Describing the production of various cuddly toys in my shop at Etsy.com (www.coldhamcuddlies.etsy.com), plus histories of toys I've had, met along the way - after 50 years of toy-making, plus odds and ends, as they occur.
As promised (or threatened?) recently, am now ready to tell you what has been happening in this field of activity in the life of the Coldham Cuddlies (all of whom are featured http://www.coldhamcuddlies.etsy.com/).
Little Red Ted (our name for him: we don't know what his owner calls him) joined us at the end of March when his owner - I'll call her Mrs. P for this article - and I met at a meeting of the local branch of The Royal British Legion Women's Section here at the Hospital of St. John. Having seen pictures of Cy Bear, she asked me if I could do her a Big Red Ted for her youngest grand daughter. (She specified Red, because she had had one as a child herself and loved it to bits!) When I went to see her to show a sample of the only red plush fur fabric I could find from my current suppliers, she introduced me to Little Red Ted - who was indeed very much loved, but in such a sad state of repair that I offered to see if I could rejuvenate him. She was happy for me to do so.
So, in order to be able to create a pattern to carry out the process, I unpicked the seams - and found some problems. In order to prolong his existence, he had been "mended" very often - threads of at least three different colours had been used over the years and the seams were threadbare. When he was made, hand made toys used very different materials. Polyester fibre had not been invented so he was stuffed with a mixture of kapok and wood shavings (large sawdust) and his eyes were glass with a very thin wire stuck to it (with what I do not know). When the deconstruction process was complete, I separated these items - and took this photograph to show what I found.
The wire on which the glass eye was fixed had just simply been shoved into the kapok, which provided a thin lining into which the saw dust had been poured. No attempt had been made to stop the items from being pulled out and, even if they were the originals, the thought of what might have happened if "little fingers" had been active, is somewhat horrifying. Mrs. P told me that Little Red Ted has been played with by her, her children, and grand-children, as well as having been attacked by a dog(s) in the past! As it was, when I attempted to carefully separate the wire from the kapok into which it had been pushed, one of the eyes separated from the wire.
The cotter pins are very much thicker and heavier than the plastic joints which are now used when making Bears or other cuddly toys. Little Red Ted's body was almost too small to handle five of them (head + four limbs). So I decided to remove them totally and replace them with the modern versions which are much lighter and less cumbersome.
The next stages were to create cardboard templates from the original body pieces, trim round the edges and applique them on to calico sheeting. I then cut out another set of pattern pieces in the new red plush fur fabric, laid the appliqued pieces on the matching new fabric pieces and sewed them up to create a new, unstuffed toy.
Showing treated head pieces and an arm
The pale "cut out" areas are where the cotter pins had been placed
The next instalment in the rejuvenation process will follow in the next blog.