Sunday, 23 September 2018

This Week's Update on The Clerical Bears + Other Developments

Hello there Everyone - from Cy Bear:

So good to be back, and able to bring you the latest developments in the increasingly busy world that has become The COLDHAMCUDDLIES Clerical Bear Collection.

During the week, Isobel was able to finish off the first Padre Bear - ordered by MrSS from Tulsa, Oklahoma (mentioned in last week's post).  He left for the United States on Wednesday afternoon, which meant that he probably didn't actually get to an aircraft until Friday.  (Isobel has just used the Royal Mail Tracker Number checking system, and learns that Padre Bear is "In Transit", leaving the UK.)  So he's definitely en route.   

Here's a finished picture of him:

Isobel was able to get The Clerical Band of Brothers and Sister together- and  Padre Bear 1 is in the centre of the group:  (numbering them, in an attempt to keep them in order, will be the "name of the game".  The initial Sample Models will not count in that record, as we intend to keep them to ourselves!)  It was only when looking at this picture on the camera before we cropped it for use here, that Isobel realised she must stop her current modus operandi of "plonking" the Bears in any old pose.  We need to make sure they are looking, and standing, facing the same direction!  However, this does show the Group getting used to their future "duties". 

Then Isobel took a Farewell Photograph with just me to wish him well prior to his being wrapped up and put into a polythene airmail postal envelope, labelled and addressed, together with the requisite Customs Form that we have to complete on all parcels headed towards the USA and Canada.

Although the last two photos were taken while we were posing on Isobel's bed, we feel that The Clerical Bears can equally well fit onto a Study Desk, an Office Bookshelf or any other convenient place where their Forever Friends put them, so they can survey their surroundings - and keep the peace?

As soon as Padre Bear was packed up, Isobel began completing Sister Bear 1 - who had been ordered off line by MsMP when The Clerical Bears were first being set up en masse for display two weeks ago.  To get a head start for the production line, Isobel  cut out 5 sets of bodies, heads and ears, all of which are made in the fleece fabric we're using for this project.  So, when getting on with Sister Bear 1, all that was needed was to cut out the pattern pieces required for her habit, veil and boots.  This meant we were able to complete her in time for Isobel to hand her over to MsMP (having alerted her to the delivery time on Saturday evening by email/and Messenger - after attempts to telephone her had failed.)  

(NB;  Last Tuesday, Isobel  went to Derby to get another supply of the fleece.  Although the fleece was still available, in the interim a new supply has come in - and we have been subject to the usual hazard of re-supply that Crafters (knitters, as well as sewers) the World Over face - changes in dyes.  The newer batches, once our original supply is complete, will appear in a slightly different colour tone).

Sister Bear 1 was a bit more of a problem to complete - there are always one or two Toys that just don't go to plan, and alas, she was one of them.  All the hiccups were overcome, however, and this is how future models of  Sister Bear will look (although, of course, they won't be exactly alike, because Isobel never can do that!):

Sister Bear 1 revealed

There are slight differences between Sister Bear 1 and our original model shown here - as a reminder:

Original Sister Bear Model

Apart from her head/face being somewhat smaller than the newer version, our original Sister Bear didn't have a collar:  she always looked a bit bare around the neck, so Isobel has decided that as Sister Bear 1 does have one - and in our view, looks more "complete" - this is going to be the future look for this member of The Clerical Bear Collection.  (Incidentally, two of the human Sisters who are on the Cathedral staff were introduced to The Clerical Bears this morning.  Both were highly amused by the depiction of Sister Bear - and promised to spread the word around the parish community!)

I'm delighted to tell you, that we've already received an order from MrSS for his first Sister Bear (he's mentioned he wants to buy 3 in total!)  She will be made and dispatched, after we've completed the order received from a London-based Buyer, MsNE  for a Bishop Bear.  We think, but haven't yet been able to confirm, this could have Anglican connections - given the address to which "His Grace"  is headed.  Isobel plans to cut out Bishop Bear later this evening, or early tomorrow morning and hopes to have him en route by the end of the week.  (One passer-by the Display Table this morning in St.Barnabas Church Hall indicated she would like to buy a Bishop Bear - next week, so fingers crossed!).  The purchase pattern for The Clerical Bears is beginning to take shape in an interesting fashion!

The developing Work in Progress schedule  means that we then have to cut out and make the latest version of  a Tiger Arm Puppet, which has been purchased via our Shop ( by MsSD from Brandon, Mississippi, USA.  We will then return to the Clerical Bear Production Line to complete Sister Bear 2,followed by Padre Bear 2 - who was ordered this morning when Isobel set up the Sunday Morning Display in the St Barnabas Hall Repository.  (We also have the prospect of another sale - for Bishop Bear 2, mentioned earlier (and a Sister Bear 6 - if we include the Tulsa orders here), with both potential Buyers stating they'd come back next week with the funds.    

Today's confirmed order was from a fellow attender of the 1000 Mass, who actually paid us by card - enabling Isobel (with Daughter Clare's technical assistance!) to use our PayPal Card Reader for the first time!!  We're getting so technical, you would not believe!!  (When she opened the computer before starting this post, Isobel found that PayPal had already notified her of the payment - so IT WORKED!!!!).

What has been a pretty busy week was rounded off with an unexpected, but totally thrilling order from MrsKD - who wanted to buy Betty Bunny Rabbit for her Great Grand Daughter, MsVK.  This order contained a special message for Betty's Forever Friend, which will of course be incorporated in a special card.  Isobel texted MrsKD while she was on the 'bus home from Nottingham after today's Clerical Bear Display to discover whether Betty is intended as a Christmas Present, a Birthday Gift or indeed to celebrate upcoming Thanksgiving in November - and if she wants the parcel to be gift-wrapped.  It's all part of the  COLDHAMCUDDLIES customer service.

Betty Bunny was originally made as a Custom Order from a Lady in the UK, wanting her little daughter to have a similar Dressed Yellow Rabbit to her own - but who still wanted to keep hers, which had a blue check frock like Betty Isobel made one dressed in Blue Gingham check, and one with a Blue Floral Pattern and the Lady chose the Floral PatternBetty has been residing in the Big Toy Bag (on which she and I are pictured here) for some time, so she was a little shocked to hear that she would be leaving the Rabbit "Burrow" for Tulsa, Ok , USA sometime next week.   (Yes, MrsKD is part of the same family - we at COLDHAMCUDDLIES are beginning to wonder how we ever managed without the support and friendship, plus design expertise, on offer from that direction!).  I've been having a gentle word with her - so that she won't be too shocked when the farewell ceremonies take place - probably Wednesday or Thursday next week.  

It's likely to be the latter, because Isobel has to represent the Old Chapel Close Tenants Association at the funeral of one of our Residents on Wednesday afternoon  (who died sadly very soon, and suddenly, after arriving in our midst).  As that is the usual time she has her weekly play session with GrandsonE, she's booked for that this week on Tuesday afternoon. So, already the week looks like being as busy as the last one was!

See you all next week - hope you all have a good one.

Your Friend,

Cy Bear.

Sunday, 16 September 2018

Where Did That Time Go? We've been SOOO busy, that it's passed in a FLASH!

Hello there Everyone!!  Did you think we'd gone for Good?  Not that I'd blame you, but as the title suggests, Isobel has been so busy with one thing and another, that she's not been able to type the blog on my behalf, so it's had to lapse for a week or two:  we now realise that it's over a month, since we last posted - and it's time we did.

image 0

The Free Church Bear, now entitled "Vicar Bear" was duly completed, after the Alternative  Missionary Bear (described in our last post)  and thus completed the present intended collection of Clerical Bears.   They are being Made to Order, so who knows:  someone seeing them either via this post, in our Shop Listings - - or via the St. Barnabas Cathedral website (a link is given below) might suggest another version, and Isobel will be delighted to have a go - provided it doesn't stray too far from our current basic patterns!

Photo taken in part of the Cathedral gardens, with photograph taken by Fr. Kevin de Athaide

They've now all been listed - and have also been highlighted in the St. Barnabas RC Cathedral website -  - and Isobel learned that they have a whole page to themselves - all thanks to Fr. Kevin de Athaide.   We're so grateful for his unstinting encouragement and help since he was told about the project at the beginning of the process. (Alas, he's been posted elsewhere by The Bishop, and leaves us tomorrow (09/17/2018) and we wish him all the luck he deserves in this new post as Assistant Priest, based at St. Thomas More, Church in Leicester - where two priests look after four separate parishes!  Isobel and family have just returned from a farewell "bunfight" they all attended earlier today ).

Immediately Isobel had finished sewing the Clerical Bears, she got on with an order that had been waiting in the wings - from a family Friend, MissJP,  who we meet regularly at Mass every week.  These two Teddy Bears will be shortly moving to Papua New Guinea with their intended Forever Friends (2 small boys - who live next door to MissJP).  She wanted to give them something to remind them of her, and the UK, when they fly off towards the end of 2018.

Allow me to introduce first, Yellow Plush Bear:

image 0

and his fellow Teddy Bear, Silver Plush Bear

image 0

They haven't been handed over yet, because MissJP is currently away on vacation, but we expect that meeting to take place next Sunday before Mass, which is when Isobel usually has a quick chat each week.  Meanwhile, they've been bundled up together to await that meeting,

and a Farewell photograph (as is the custom for departing COLDHAMCUDDLIES  Ornamental Toys) was taken of the three of us together.

We're all made with the same pattern:  it's just that we're made with different fabrics

The Clerical Bears have also appeared officially in public before the 1000 Mass for the past two Sundays, (and the 1115 Mass) as well as being listed and getting their own page on the Diocesan Website, so they are beginning to get known.  So far, we've had 6 Orders, either placed and/or promised.  Four of them will be eventually flying off to Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA - with the first, Padre Bear - hopefully flying off early next week.   Isobel is just finishing off his cassock, with everything else needed for a completed Bear ready to be attached to an already stuffed body. 

Our good friend,  MrSS - who designed the Oscar, Blue Rabbit Mascot for us earlier this year -

image 0

has told Isobel that he will also be requiring 3 Sister Bears to join Padre Bear, one at a time, once he has got to Tulsa safely.  ( Isobel wanted them to be ordered separately - so that the COLDHAMCUDDLIES shop statistics can benefit by showing the different orders we are currently beginning to get!  And, it's not only of Clerical Bears, I must also add:  this week, we also received a Custom Order for another Tiger Arm Puppet, which I'll be telling you about shortly, when the Tiger order comes to the top of the list - probably in about 14 days time).

Another Sister Bear is going to be joining my good friend, Panda Bear - who found a home with MsMP just before Christmas last year.

MsMP  did tell Isobel she would be ordering a Sister Bear when she appeared, and happened to see her last Sunday when The Clerical Bears were first being displayed on a table in The Repository area of the Church Hall.  She's been cut out, and will be the next Bear to be worked on by Isobel, after Padre Bear flies off to Tulsa.  As you know, orders received are made in the order they get listed:  we're still waiting for the Tulsa-bound Sister Bear orders, so as MsMP's was received last Sunday - and in "real time" as it were, hers will be the first one going off to her new home.  (Isobel is going to show all The Clerical Bears for the next few Sundays, until they  are booked to appear at a forthcoming Christmas Artisan Bazaar - planned in St. Barnabas Church Hall for 12th and 13th October.) 

So Friends, I've yattered on long enough - but it has been quite a while that we've not been in touch, so I didn't think you'd mind me doing so this time around.  We'll try to be a bit better at keeping in regular touch, and meanwhile, I'm signing off with a sincere wish that all our Followers in the wake of  Hurricane Florence are safe and well, and that everyone else has a great week.  See you all again soon.

Your Friend,

Cy Bear.

Sunday, 19 August 2018

On the last leg: Alternative Version of our Missionary Bear now ready.

Hello once more Everyone!  

Cy Bear delighted to be back and to be able to share the progress - first reported in last week's post - about our Alternative Missionary Bear.  He's now complete and has joined the other Clerical Bears awaiting the BIG REVEAL - towards the beginning of September, which is getting ever closer.

His head and ears are level, although they may not look it in this photograph. We think he looks a very welcoming sort of Bear Toy, and are hopeful he and his fellow Clerical Bears will soon find  Forever Homes - as Toys or as Ornamental Decor Items in lots of people's homes, and so become good fund-raising tools for the St. Barnabas Cathedral Roof Maintenance Fund  in Nottingham.

A frontal view 

Looking at this photo, though, he does look as one of his ears could do with a bit of adjustment!  The line of buttons also doesn't look straight, but actually that is the way the picture has been taken, as well as the way the garment hangs on the Bear's body!  (Close-up, they are below each other in a straightline! Isobel will see to the ear,  before he is shown to the St. Barnabas Cathedral Craft Group tomorrow, when she is due to attend a gathering in the afternoon.  (She has also still got to sew that "ColdhamCuddlies" label into the Original Missionary Bear too! - she's been quite busy this week, though, with one thing and another.)

A side-ways view: where the ear doesn't look too bad!!

Followed by one from his rear:

And now, from the other side:

And finally, here's Missionary Bear Two waving to you all (or providing a "blessing" maybe?)

The construction of the final member of the Clerical Bear Collection is well under way - with the Free Church Bear cut out, with head sewn and ready for the facial features to be added.  Isobel is currently making a start on sewing up the body.  The footwear needs to be sewn, and then will come a different set of garments.  Keep a watch out folks:  next week should see this last addition completed, and work begun on the Two Plush Teddy Bears headed at the end of this year for Papua New Guinea (firsts for a COLDHAMCUDDLIES family member!).

Have a great week.  By the way - it's unlikely that we will be posting next week, as the family is involved in an August Bank Holiday event being held outdoors in Kirkby in Ashfield next Sunday, and obviously Isobel cannot be in two places at the same time.  Let's hope it will be blessed with the kind of weather we have had up to this week, and not the rather cool, threatening rain one we are having as this post is being prepared.

See you all again soon.  Your Friend, Cy Bear.

Sunday, 12 August 2018

New Clerical Bears to See, but not yet Touch.

Hello Everyone - Cy Bear back again!

Here we are  - a Sunday afternoon once more, and time to update you on the COLDHAMCUDDLIES  Clerical Bears Project. (Last week's post was missed, because there was little more to add - other than the the Grey Plush Tiger Puppet was still en route to his Forever Home.  I'm delighted to tell you that he did get delivered on 7th August.)   This week has seen Sister Bear completed, and also one of the two versions we propose to offer for our Missionary Bears.  

The first to be ready for introduction to the St. Barnabas Cathedral Craft Group last Monday, using the toffee-colour fleece fabric with which most of the Collection will be made, was the one currently being referred to as Sister Bear:

Isobel decided to give her black boots - based on the pattern we use for our dressed Lady Rabbit, Foxes and Wolf Toys - rather than the pattern she's using for the Padre Bear and his male companions.  Based on this picture, we think Sister Bear is currently looking a little "naked" around her neck region, and we're thinking about possibly giving her a white collar.  With the current veil she has on her head, there wasn't enough body space for the cape that Isobel had prepared for her, so it was left off.  There may therefore be a change in appearance before the final version is revealed to the public early in September.  Watch this space, Everyone!

With every version being produced, Isobel is working faster - and the first version of our proposed Missionary Bear is now done.  The cassock and body were ready to be shown at last Monday's Craft Group meeting at St. Barnabas Cathedral in Nottingham, and finally completed (minus the "COLDHAMCUDDLIES" label, which has inadvertently been left off!) yesterday afternoon.

Isobel was delighted with the way she was able to slip the laminated white paper "dog collar"into Missionary Bear's collar.  It's so satisfying when these "experimental" suggestions actually work!  You can see the difference in the footwear- in the "shoes" this Ornamental Bear is "wearing" in this picture, but even better in the final photograph at the end of this post.

The next Clerical Bear to be worked on is the "Brother" Missionary Bear - which Isobel began by cutting out last evening.  This is where she's got to - 

The Head is sewn, and now waits for nose and eyes to be fitted in place - before being stuffed and sewn at the neck.  Below the Head are the arms, and the label which will be fitted somewhere on the finished Ornamental Toy.  Below the unfinished arms, are the cut out shoes, including cardboard bases which are fitted into the shoes before the stuffing is put in - to make it easier to get the finished Toys to stand without being propped up.  (The second label is the one destined to be sewn into the finished original Missionary Bear).

On the right of this picture can be seen the body waiting to be sewn together, as well as the cut out cassock pattern.  At the top is the back of the garment, with the lower pieces being the fronts - which are produced somewhat back to front.  In most garments (for toys or anywhere else) the garment fold is usually at the front.  However, with all the buttons that need to be sewn to a real Priest's garment (33 for a human - 10 in the case of this Missionary Bear) the fold is in the front of the cassock. 

Unusually, Isobel doesn't seem to have any light brown lining with which to complete the second Missionary Bear's ears, so tomorrow will see her travelling to one of her fabric suppliers to see if they can provide her with what she has in her minds eye.  "With luck - and a following wind", as the saying goes - the preliminary Clerical Bear models will be completed by the end of next week.  

We have an order for two Cuddly Teddy Bears - destined to be Forever Friends for two young boys who are going to be living with their parents - coincidentally with their Dad headed to become a pilot flying missionaries in Papua New Guinea, Oceania later this year!  (The Cuddly Bears are to be in plush fabric - different colours, so no quarrels will ensue! - and thus will be bigger than these Clerical Bears).   Then, we'll be returning to stock up the Clerical Bears - in time for their public appearance at the start of September, to be followed by being on sale at the upcoming Christmas Bazaar the Cathedral Craft Group members are working towards which is scheduled for early October.  

Good Heavens:  Christmas Bazaars already?  It only seems yesterday, we were all preparing for the last one the Cuddlies appeared at last November at Thoresby Hall.  Where did the time go?

See you all next week:

Your Friend,

Cy Bear

Sunday, 5 August 2018

This Week's Progress Reports on COLDHAMCUDDLIES Activities

Greetings once again, Everyone:  

Cy Bear back in harness with further news on the Clerical Bears project - as well as an update on the the journey undertaken by the newest Arm Puppet Activity Toy to be created by Isobel. 

Grey Tiger Puppet - "in motion"

He's still en route, taking a little longer than hoped because for some reason or another, the parcel was thought to be "suspicious" by United States Customs Service.  That is not an unexpected hiccup by the way:  even with the Customs Declaration Form correctly filled in, Customs Services all round the world have to be careful of packages entering their environs, and regrettably, Toys (especially Arm Puppets) could well be used to try to smuggle "undesirable" products into their respective countries.  COLDHAMCUDDLIES travelling to Canada have been particularly susceptible in the past.   A GIANT PARCEL containing 8 pairs of COLDHAMCUDDLIES Novelty Fluffy Slippers as Christmas presents for Isobel's Niece's family looked as though it had been invaded by the time it got to its destination - with part of the packaging ripped off the top where the packages had evidently been removed and individually scanned!!  However, this is the first time there appears to have been more than a day involved in any smooth progress from the United Kingdom to  an USA ultimate destination.

Grey Tiger Puppet's Itinerary to Date:

Package In-Transit Updates 
August 5, 2018, 5:54 am 
Departed USPS Regional Facility 
Your item departed our USPS facility in SCRANTON PA DISTRIBUTION CENTER on August 5, 2018 at 5:54 am. The item is currently in transit to the destination. 

August 5, 2018, 4:48 am 
Arrived at USPS Regional Facility 

August 5, 2018, 3:18 am 
Departed USPS Regional Facility 

August 4, 2018, 11:31 pm 
Arrived at USPS Regional Destination Facility 

August 2, 2018, 2:32 pm 
Inbound Out of Customs 

Inbound Into Customs 

August 1, 2018, 9:51 pm 
Processed Through Facility 

Origin Post is Preparing Shipment 

July 30, 2018, 11:50 pm 
Processed Through Facility 

July 28, 2018, 11:50 am 

Thus, with any luck, MrGG should be getting his package delivered to him early next week - USPS willing!  This tracker service is a great help - as well as rather a fun thing to do - especially, if like Isobel, you like to know EXACTLY where a Cuddly is, when they are travelling to their respective Forever Homes.  She particularly enjoys using the Tracker facility because a close family member was involved in the team that thought up and provided the programme for use by Royal Mail several years ago.  

Rear View of Grey Tiger Puppet - being handled

On the other Cuddlies production front - the Clerical Bears, there is good progress to report there too.  Sister Bear now has a head and almost has a completed habit.  (Her ears were still only pinned on, as was her veil - they are now in their permanent position, which will be revealed when she is ready for presenting to the public!)

She's not meant to depict a  Sister of an actual Religious Order, but merely to be a recognisable concept of one.  Her Head looks like this currently, and Isobel isn't intending to change it much more at the moment.  Although future models may well get made in a different order.  That's why our First Attempts can take a lot longer to make than those that follow.  (It can involve a lot of trial and error!)

Since this photo was taken earlier in the week, she has her two arms in place, and the hem is currently being worked on.  She now just needs to have her head attached to the body, and a white cape sewn in place around her shoulders, (that's ready to be attached)  as well as a pair of black shoes at the end of her legs.  (Isobel is currently in two minds as to which pattern she will be using for Sister Bear - the one she's used already for the Padre Bears:  or the pattern she uses for the Dressed Lady Rabbits, Foxes and Wolves).  That will be visible the next time we post here!

Meanwhile, yesterday, Isobel travelled to visit one of our haberdashery outlets -  in nearby Mansfield.  There she purchased several more sets of eyes, noses and fabric with which to make the bodies of our proposed Missionary Bear model (which we propose to offer in two versions - to be clarified as and when they are both made!) and the trousers for our Reverend Bear (hopefully to attract customers of all faiths - or None, not just Catholics!)  

When all the models are assembled, Isobel is planning on taking photos of each of them, together with one all in a group, and doing an article about them - and then sending it to a former member of the Cathedral Parish Choir (the one that leads the singing at St. Barnabas Cathedral's 1000 BST Mass each Sunday.  There are other Choirs at the Cathedral as well).  She works for a prominent UK Catholic weekly publication - and may well be happy to have the package for placing "on the spike", as it was described when Isobel's late husband, Peter, used to work in the publishing industry (viz. a useful story to fill a gap in a journal page, and one which could appeal to a lot of their readership!)  Fingers crossed that the plan can be accomplished as it could help to "spread the word" and lead to enhancement of the St. Barnabas Cathedral Roof Maintenance Appeal.   Which in the end, is the real reason for the Clerical Bears in the first place!!

Right Everyone, that's it for this week. Great to be with you again - and do hope you're all enjoying your various summer vacations - wherever that may be!  See you all soon - hopefully.

Your Friend, Cy Bear

Sunday, 29 July 2018

Progress Still Being Maintained - on all Fronts.

Good afternoon Everyone!

Cy Bear  back again - in case you thought I wasn't coming back. While it's been 3 weeks since we were last together, it has been for a reason:  Isobel has been so busy with one thing and another that I fear blogging has taken a back seat - and also as there was not much different to tell you about when our usual Sunday afternoon get-together takes place,  we decided we'd not blog just for the sake of it:  but only when there was some progress to report.

So, on the Clerical Bear Front: we now have two usable models - both of which appear in the photo below.  Our initial, trial bear (with a sewn nose - the other two have been given plastic noses!) is included, because he now has the final version of the "dog collar".  COLDHAMCUDDLIES has gone halves in the purchase of a laminating machine with daughter Clare- who has many uses for such a gizmo.  We followed the suggestion of laminating a piece of ordinary white paper - and cutting it to size for our trial Bear:  it worked:  and the results can be seen in the follow up models!  One sheet is going to last for quite a few more Bears - when they are officially announced (looking like the beginning of September).

We ended up our 8th July bulletin by telling you about an order for a Tiger Arm Puppet which we received from MrGG - based in Exeter, Pennsylvania, USA.  He was particularly interested in it looking like one of the Tiger Puppets which appeared in a well-known, much-loved childrens' programme series "Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood" which was followed by Isobel's daughters when the family lived in Canada.   After explaining that we wouldn't be able to make it EXACTLY like that character, but we would make one closely resembling it, the Custom Order was set up by Isobel and paid for by MrGG.   (As ever, our orders - particularly from the United Statees - seem to arrive on a Friday, making starting orders experiencing a little delay - helping Isobel to put the finishing touches to our Bishop/Cardinal Bear).  Thus, the Bishop/Cardinal Bear (name still to be finalised!) was finished last Saturday week, and the Tiger Arm Puppet cut out and sewing started on Monday afternoon - when Isobel was at the Cathedral Craft Group session, getting the members' approval for the Clerical Bears to date - as well as for her future plans for the Group.  

Start of the Grey Tiger Arm Puppet 

All our Arm Puppets, and our Hand Puppets too, are made with calico linings - because the canvas backing used with some of the plush fabrics can be a bit "scratchy".  The sheeting - being made with cotton - makes it more comfortable, but admittedly can add to the operators' hand/arm getting warmer than it might otherwise be.  No one has complained to date, however.

Isobel thus needs two pieces each of all the items involved with the body and arms of the Puppet.  The Head is just cut out with one layer, while it's ears have two.  Initially, Isobel used a matching grey lining for the ears, so that before getting the two bits together, the Tiger Puppet looked like this:

However, Isobel felt that this didn't achieve what she was looking for - trying to immitate the original picture sent to us by MrGG with the Custom Order:

To her eyes, the head looked too like a Teddy Bear, and not a Tiger, and the lining - which was a stiff satin, matching the grey plush well, was too stiff.  Therefore, she undid both ears, and cut out two more pieces of the grey plush fabric, and made them up again.  Resulting in a Tiger Head which was much more what she was hoping to achieve.

Followers, please forgive the quality of this particular shot - but these "blow-by-blow" shots, taken as Isobel is going along, can sometimes be when it is night time, and the LED bulbs in our electric lights in the flat do result in camera shots looking a trifle "jaundiced".  However, it illustrates what Isobel was doing at the time, and we feel it's appropriately shown here!

All that was then required was to get the nose filled in with the distinctive orange shade of double knit yarn, and then fix the head to the body.  That sounds to be quite a simple task, but it can be fiddly getting both the lining and body to fit together without too many wrinkles to make operating the final result difficult.  

The circular piece in this picture is a new departure for our Puppet-handling "mechanism", whether a hand or arm version.  All our previous Activity Toys have had a cardboard tube - covered with calico - fitted into the head, but that only allowed for one finger to be inserted for the operator to move the head around.  Isobel had one of her "flashes of inspiration" while making this latest Tiger Puppet, and decided to see if making this circular piece of fabric and creating a central hole in it would enable at least another finger to be inserted.  The gap has been "strengthened" with the addition of bias binding around the hole, and she found it worked quite well .  (She has always felt she had an extra digit getting in the way when she was trying the former COLDHAMCUDDLIES PUPPET out before shipping them to their Forever Homes).  She has asked MrGG for his feedback on the newly introduced item - which has been promised.

Finally, when the head and body were put together, our Grey Plush Tiger Arm Puppet - representing a Tiger who has "lost" his stripes - looked like this next evening, before he was packed up and left the UK for Exeter, Pennsylvania, yesterday morning:

You will see that while he looks quite like the original photograph shown above, he doesn't have black claws on his hands, nor the featured wrist watch or the whiskers.  Apart from not wanting to be EXACTLY the same, Isobel has a policy of not adding protruding items like whiskers (brittle or soft!) to any of her toys - for safety purposes.  In any case, she finds it quite impossible to get anything to look exactly like another Toy - whether she's making one for the first time, or when restoring old friends to look almost like they did when they first arrived in their Forever Home, after a Toy Animal Hospital treatment in our Clinic - (

Before posting, and because she was visiting a friend locally yesterday before calling in at the Post Office, Grey Tiger Puppet was shown to our Friend, who kindly agreed to be in photos of the new Cuddlies' offering - in motion as it were.  She has stiff fingers (even stiffer than Isobel's) but found the new neck opening was manageable - so we hope it will be the same for MrGG when his acquisition arrives - hopefully at the end of next week (or shortly thereafter).

Right, that's it Everyone:  except that we've heard from MrGG - that the Grey Tiger Puppet may become the latest COLDHAMCUDDLIES Toy to be given a life mission.  To quote MrGG himself - in one of the messages exchanged during last week, as the Puppet progressed:

"I have also been thinking recently that I may on occasion bring this puppet to my private mental health counseling practice. There may come a moment where he would be of good use." 

Isn't that exciting?  And he's also given Isobel permission to include this idea here, as well as providing some new Tags we can use to highlight this kind of assistance that can be offered by our other Puppet Activity Toys, present and in future!!  (Guess what Isobel is likely to be doing at some point next week?)

See you all next time - while Isobel gets back into the Clerical Bear project once more. Plans for a Sister Bear are progressing well, as is one for a Missionary Bear.   Have a good week, Everyone!

Your Friend, Cy Bear.

Sunday, 8 July 2018

A week of Good Progress on the COLDHAMCUDDLIES Front to report

Good afternoon again, Everyone!

Cy Bear reporting on what has happened in the last week in the COLDHAMCUDDLIES' world - and it's one of progress too.

First of all - our Yellow Unicorn was completed after we posted our blog last week, and is now listed in the  COLDHAMCUDDLIES' Shop -

As  you can see, Yellow Unicorn is now fully decorated around his hooves, and the next photo shows him with his "necklace/collar" too.

The final shot - for this post anyway - is a full facial photograph:

Then we can report good progress, finally, on the Clerical Bears Project:  we finally managed to run to earth the right sized limb disks for our proposed Models, and they eventually arrived in the post  on Friday morning.  Ironically, while they were purchased via E-Bay (in slight desperation on Isobel's part), it turned out that if she'd been thinking straight, she could have got them RIGHT AT THE BEGINNING of this experimental stage from Mohair Bear Making Supplies Ltd - our supplier of choice for most of our furry fabrics for all the CUDDLIES that need such material - because that is where the initial packet of 3 sets (they come in threes you see) were sent from via our E-Bay order!  (One of the things Isobel will have to do this coming week, is to sort out with Mohair Bear Making Supplies that she has multiplied herself:  but needs them to put the two accounts in Isobel's name into one!!!)

It has enabled Isobel to finish the Prototype Padre Bear - which is pretty much how all the rest of them will look.   Basically, they're going to be made in three stages:  the body, head and arms, which will include fitting in the first disk part at the top of the arm.   Then we'll do the head and body and stuff it so that we get an idea of how the Ornamental Toy will look like when finished.  Then we can make the "cassock", which is quite fiddly, although once Isobel has "got it", she shouldn't have too much of a problem.  Hopefully, they'll all end up looking something like this:

The initial fit resulted in too much of  white collar, and it not holding it's shape too well.

Also, it became obvious that although we thought we had 8 matching black buttons, we actually ended up with five properly black ones, and three that "looked" black, but also had a reddish tinge to them.  

As this is still a prototype - and therefore not going to be part of the fund-raising gig for St. Barnabas Cathedral's Roof Maintenance - Isobel decided to carry on, carrying on, as she needed to get some market research done on progress to date (a.k.a. showing pics of the finished article to all and sundry before and after Mass this morning).  

Although this Model will not be on sale, Isobel  had a brilliant suggestion made as to what could happen to him - rather than sitting around in the flat, gathering dust.  The idea of us creating Padre Bears started several months ago, when we were having an early morning coffee before Mass one Sunday.  One of our Parishoner Friends, whose wife actually has an earlier version of one of our Light Brown Bears - (and called him "George", if memory serves):

suggested that Isobel try to make one, as he felt it would sell well - and not just here in Nottingham at the Cathedral.  Getting a pattern has been the main hold-up, but now we've got a template, we can bring it to fruition.  Isobel will indeed offer this original Padre Bear Model to our Friend - as a gesture of thanks for his suggestion, once he's done his work as our production "guinea pig"!!

As usual, we had to work out the order in which the different components of the new Coldham Cuddly would be put together - we think we've got that!   Then we had to fit them together, and add the arms - which did need to be taken apart at the arms shoulder so that the disks could be fitted in.
Then the cassock was fitted over the body, and holes made in the side seams - matching where there were already gaps in the Bear Body side-seams.  The disks were then fitted in, and closed with the plastic safety disc which comes as part of the set;  the already-made head was then added and the collar gathered to make a better fit  - giving the resulting look. 

The white piece bit of the "dog-collar" is currently made with pretty strong inter-facing, which would normally be ironed on - resulting in a less fragile fit.  At the moment, it's not quite what Isobel is looking for, as it tends to bend too easily when trying to sew the cassock around the Bear's neck, and so doesn't look too convincing - at least when one is close up!

Discussions during the "market research" resulted in a suggestion that an ordinary piece of white printing paper, laminated on both sides might well provide the answer, and this will be put to the test in subsequent days.  We think it will be hardy enough to remain in place once Isobel slots it into the collar (the current inter-facing gets very weak if handled too often!) and it will also provide the "shiny" look that a real "dog collar" has, while our Model's has a matte finish.  Meanwhile, here are two further photographs of the prototype as presently on offer:

See you all next week - and hopefully, we'll have a finished version of  Padre Bear - as he will be offered to the world, as well as a Bishop Bear - dressed in purple.  Isobel has somehow always thought of it as crimson, but again, our friends didn't think I'd got it right!  More research needed on that, methinks.  Plans are in Isobel's mind, as she types this, I know!

One thing though has emerged:  we're unlikely to be offering a white-robed "Deacon" Bear, as the general consensus was that once ordained, Deacons tend to dress in Black, and have a special white garment as their clerical robes.  However, one of the Parish Priests at St. Barnabas - who was pretty enthusiastic about our prototype - suggested that a white-robed priest might go down well in countries where hot temperatures are the norm (although if the weather carries on the way it is at the moment in the UK, they might have to go that route themselves here and our Clerics have to have "Tropical" outfits, as happened in the days of the British Raj all those years ago!).  They do wear white cassocks, like our priests wear black ones in places like South India (one of our present Priests does come from those parts, as it happens!).  So, we'll still offer a White-robed Padre Bear - and see what results!

As I said last week:  just watch this space Folks!  Exciting times ahead - especially, as we received a Custom Order for a Tiger Arm Puppet from a MrGGG, located in Exeter, Pa, USA on Friday.  It's based on this Tiger Arm Puppet in our Shop, but our client wants it made without stripes - 

so it's going to be made with our Silver Fox plush fabric, which looked like this in the photograph Isobel sent out to MrGGG on Friday afternoon.  

See you all again, next week - hopefully.

Your Friend

Cy Bear.