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.

Sunday, 1 July 2018

Progress Report(s) and Introducing a New Cuddly to the Ranks.

Good afternoon Everyone:

Cy Bear back again, after a week that has once more flown by, during which we've had some lovely, but extremely un-British weather conditions.  The sun has actually shone from morning till evening, and we've had a very welcome cool breeze, which has helped us all in our flat to manage the very unusual high temperatures (both day and night). 

Now for one of those updates, alluded to in the title for today's post:  regarding the potential Clerical Bear population in the COLDHAMCUDDLIES shop and family.  We referred in last week's post to the long time it took Isobel to unpick the fabric destined for the black cassocks:  - here's a photo, which hadn't been taken when I mentioned it last week - showing the fabric that wasn't any use for the project:  in the garbage pail, ready for transfer to the complex rubbish bins last week:

Next door to the pail is the current bag of stuffing which is used to fill all the Cuddlies after they've been sewn together, prior to listing in the Shop.  You can se that the discarded items almost fill the pail!!  The remainder of the black fabric is carefully ironed and folded ready to be used for the Padre Bears. 

Progress on the Clerical Bears has been slightly held up, although we have moved forward.  Isobel has sourced the buttons (8 for each cassock) that she'll be using when she gets going.  She went to two separate local sources - one in Kirkby in Ashfield, where we live:  the other in Mansfield, the nearest BIG local town, which requires a 30 minute 'bus journey each way.  While she got most of the required accessories from the latter this time around, she's found that our nearer location has the best size and colour matches - and (given the time factor!) she's going to use that once the current supply needs replenishment.  The price differential is marginal, and she may be able to negotiate a lower cost, if we buy in sufficient bulk!!  That has yet to be discussed!!

We're still waiting to find the right sized toy limb discs:  Isobel did order what she thought would be suitable (because she gets muddled when dealing in millimetres, rather than inches) they turned out to be far too big, so they had to be returned from one of our on-line sources of these items on Friday.  We can get them - buying 2 sets (needed for each Bear) from our local haberdashery store - but we're trying to establish somewhere we can buy them in bulk, if needed.  Our Manchester based haberdashery supplier (Fred Aldous & Co.) - from whence we order our stuffing (mentioned earlier in this post, and from whom we've ordered - and received - another 1.5 kg bag of the material) do sell toy limbs, but the sample Isobel ordered (which looked OK from the online picture) turned out to be the same size as the items we sent back on Friday.  As a result, progress on the Bears has not been great this week, although we haven't stayed still!

Instead, Isobel has finally managed to create the first member of the  COLDHAMCUDDLIES line of Unicorns.  Based on the Pink Unicorn she "rescued" from a local charity shop earlier this year, she managed to create the template for our latest offering - which still needs the finishing touches.  Here is what our Unicorn currently looks like - from different angles. 

(You can see what the original one was like - before it fell to pieces when Isobel undid the seams! - by referring to last week's post). That caused some difficulty for her in remembering how each piece of the body and (particularly) the head fitted into each other, but at last we've got almost the finished article.  When Isobel showed the partially completed toy to Philippa (during her recent visit to Kirkby for Isobel's Grandson's birthday celebrations) the Yellow Unicorn looked like this:

(It is the same body, but the above photo was taken at night time, and pictures under electric light do tend to look like this:  whereas the first photo, and the ones that follow, were taken in daylight earlier this afternoon.)

Philippa suggested that the finished article might well benefit from the addition of a little "bling", as Little People who are attracted to Unicorns - of so I am told - seem to like shiny embellishments to their equine toys!  So, we've sourced some gold metallic ric rac trimming, and you can see the first example of this - around the Unicorn's horn!

Isobel plans to put a ring of the gold ric rac around each hoof - after she's added a stitch or two to make the legs look straighter.

There will also be a "collar" of gold ric rac around our Unicorn's neck as well.

Once the final details have been added, and the finishing touches added, Yellow Unicorn will be listed in the shop - as the first of the "Christmas in July" offerings for 2018.  Once the Clerical Bears are under way, Isobel wants to make another Unicorn, this time in poplin (this one being made in Yellow Fleece):  she thinks she has just the thing, and it should be a really colourful addition to the Cuddlies Family.

That's it for this week, Folks!  Hope you have a lovely week in the coming days:  we're headed for another week of scorching temperatures here in the UK - so everyone of you, keep cool and hopefully I'll see all again next Sunday!

Your Friend, Cy Bear:

Sunday, 24 June 2018

An Unexpected Departure, as well as Updated Clerical Bear News

Hello Everyone! 

Yes, it's me, Cy Bear back once more - delayed this time as the result of  Isobel getting very busy on the sewing side of her life, and therefore not having the time to keep you updated (as much as she would like to) on the Clerical Bear developments - although they are coming along apace, and I'm hoping to be able to start that story next week, when she's got a bit further along the road.

However, we do have some lovely news to tell you - all about our Dressed Grey Wolf Ornamental Toy, (  - who has been looking for (and NOW FOUND!!) her Forever Home.

A week ago on Friday, we got an unexpected enquiry from a MsRT - who we discovered lived in Southport, Merseyside, England (not far from where Isobel and Peter used to live - well before I became a member of the Morrell/COLDHAMCUDDLIES Family - she was then "into quilt-making, I've discovered!).   MsRT had come across this picture of  our dressed Grey Wolf

It apparently reminded her of her much loved canine friend "Dill",who had died a couple of years ago.  She wondered if  Isobel could make her one like the above photograph.  We were able to surprised (and please MsRT) by saying that she was actually still looking for her Forever Home, and we'd be delighted to send her - if we could have her snail mail address, once the necessary usual procedures had been followed (a.k.a funds reaching our Bank Account!)  To prove that Grey Wolf was indeed available, we sent an up to date photograph of her sitting on Isobel's new printer on the desk, beside the computer this post is being created on.

We received MsRT's order, together with her payment to our Etsy Shop account ( that same day (a Friday- which often means that the next stages of the payment can take two Working Days to achieve).  That did turn out to be the case, but Isobel promised to have Grey Wolf in the post to Southport the next time she was scheduled to be near our main local Post Office (late Wednesday morning, last week).  

Just to remind everyone, if a Cuddly is in stock, and all usual channels have been travelled, they can be en route within one week of receipt of an order.  If they're not, our process times are shown in each listing, and allow time for Isobel to make them for you, from scratch - as well as taking into account existing work in progress.

Meanwhile, to digress somewhat, a meeting of the St. Barnabas Cathedral Craft Group was convened on Monday 18th June - at which Isobel was able to show the members the fabric she had purchased from two fabric stalls in the City of Derby's Eagle Market - to be used for the Clerical Bears' cassocks.   They were in the White and Maroon colours she wanted for two of the three cassock patterns she's planning to produce - having been given an old, unneeded Canon's cassock from Cathedral stocks to be recycled for the Black versions.  (She spent two entire evenings unpicking the seams of that garment - not having realised just how much fabric and sewing goes into one of those important Church vestments!)  Once all the unwanted linings, inserts, shoulder pads etc et al had been disposed of, the remaining black fabric was washed, and now awaits ironing, before being used for the Padre Bears being created.

(While buying the fabric, Isobel did show the Teddy Bear prototype to one of the Stallholders, who asked what Yellow Bear was called.  When told he hadn't got a name, she promptly said he'd GOT to be "Father Ted Bear" - so that's what he is!!)  

When the "draft"/prototype Yellow Bear was shown around before Sunday Mass the week after he'd been made - looking like this

those who met him were very complimentary, wishing the project every success - as well as Isobel being told that the Bear had bigger hips than most clerics have (by one of the regular Priests at the Cathedral!  He's right, actually:  they're not in the right spot on the Bear's body!).  Isobel wasn't really happy with how this prototype-Bear turned out - his arms are not right, nor do they match the rest of the body, as we ran out of the scrap fabric we had used for this purpose, and indeed, we are now working with a different shape body, with legs that don't move - although we're hoping the arms will.   (These will match the chosen colour fabric being used)  if Isobel can find the smaller discs needed to make moving limbs for Toys exist (we'll know tomorrow after Isobel has gone to our haberdashery supplier in nearby Mansfield to find out, as well as see if she can also establish an on-going supply of the small buttons we need, in the three colours we're using.  Each Bear will have 8 buttons on the front of each cassock!! FYI - a proper Priest's cassock has 33 - one for each year of Our Lord's Life on Earth).  The discs we've used to date are too big for the pattern we're now following, and the black fabric we're starting with will wear very quickly using them.  Isobel hopes a smaller disc will avoid that problem.  Keep your fingers crossed, please!  Otherwise, the future Bears will have one arm permanently raised (for a supposed blessing?)- which could be uncomfortable for them!

To return to Grey Wolf and her journey to her Forever Home:  all went well, and she was duly packed up (as I described in our last post dated June 3, 2018) and posted to Southport last Wednesday.  She arrived safely the next day, and Isobel was so pleased to hear that MsRT is even more delighted with her than she expected.   This is part of which she said in her note telling us of Grey Wolf's arrival:

"  " she" arrived today and is absolutely exquisite!, you have made her so beautifully, I love her, thank you so much, and for helping me to get " the one in the picture" as well, I'm sure I shall be back for more!"

She sent us a photo of Grey Wolf the evening after she arrived - when she was taken to Birkdale Beach (near to where she lives in Southport - where we guess she walks her current doggy friend - or maybe after visiting her Mother there,  which she also told us about).

She also included a photograph of "Dill", the canine friend I mentioned earlier, just to see if Isobel could see the resemblance between them that first caught her eye.   We certainly can:   and we wonder if you can too?

Whilst we were delighted to learn that Grey Wolf arrived safely and well, Isobel did ask if we might have photos of "Lady Dill", as Isobel named her,  in an indoor location too.  Sure enough, the next evening, these two pictures arrived:

End of story I think!  I do love a happy ending, don't you?

See you next week, with the latest on the Clerical Bear front:  and, meanwhile, have a good one EVERYBODY!

Your Friend,

Cy Bear.

Sunday, 3 June 2018

What Happened to the Blue Rabbits (and All Cuddlies!) when They go to Forever Homes or Work

Hello Everyone: 
Cy Bear back again, despite things still taking a little longer to happen than they used to when the laptop was functioning before the new hard disk was fitted.  We're delighted to tell you that the Blue Rabbit Saga has come to an end, with the departure on - Friday - as planned - of Blue Rabbit No.7.

Here is No,7, standing on top of the radiator in the living room, under a silk-printed picture of The Fobidden City in Beijing, China - which has been a feature in Isobel's home since the 1980's when she and Peter lived in Canada, and is a present from a Chinese scientist who became a friend of theirs, although - alas - they have lost touch with that family since.  It happens, unfortunately:  and the picture is part of what is known as "The China Wall" in our Family.

We thought you'd like to see what happened to ALL  the Blue Rabbits - including the two Oscars -), who were part of the original packages) once the Farewell Ceremonies they all went through had happened.

First of all, they all move to the Bedroom, where the bed becomes the focus of attention.


I then get out of the way, and Isobel  gets the wrapping materials together prior to getting the Blue Rabbits (or any other COLDHAMCUDDLIES Toy for that matter) prepared for their respective journeys - whether within the UK or globally.

Here you can see, in the foreground, the polyester Mail Envelope (the biggest size we can lay our hands on!) plus the reel of cellotape and required scissors to get the job done. On the left in the back ground is the chemical free tissue paper (Blue Rabbits required two separate pieces, cellotaped together, because they are such long legged - and with big ears too!- toys) and the box in which the bubble wrap which every travelling toy is encased in before being put into the envelope.
Because we didn't want the ears to get unnecessarily bent in transit, Isobel cut off a piece and wrapped the ears separately before wrapping the Rabbits in the tissue paper.  Then the wrapping process began, until the package looked like this:

With me in the background (I supervise EVERY package that leaves the COLDHAMCUDDLIES premises!), here's Blue Rabbit No: 7 in the tissue paper, and the next photograph shows the roll of bubble wrap the parcel ends up being finished with:

The bubble wrap roll is conveniently just wide enough to place a Blue Rabbit in the middle of it, so Isobel just cut off sufficient for a single overlap and then cellotape was used to join up the package on the sides and at the end.  Then the Toys are put into the Mailing Envelope, which is then folded in such a way as to make it easier for the postal authorities to cope with, put into Isobel's shopping trolley (the Blue Rabbits were actually longer than the trolley bag, usually) and ended up in the local Post Office the next time (usually the following day) Isobel was going shopping.

Because of the size and shape, all the Blue Rabbits had to be treated as medium-sized parcels (instead of  large letter-sized packages!) so they all ended up being sent Second Class, but Signed For - which Royal Mail promises to deliver within 3 Working Days of dispatch.  As it was Friday morning that Blue Rabbit No.7 was dispatched from Kirkby in Ashfield, it will likely be Tuesday or Wednesday of this coming week before he gets to Oxford.   Ms KA, our Oxford Against Cutting contact, will likely have to pick him up from the Sorting Office so it may well be Thursday or Friday before they meet each other - because Isobel was told that MsKA is very busy organising a Poster Campaign aimed at schools in their local area before the summer holidays begin.  Apparently, it is at that time in the year  that the information warning about the dangers of Female Genital Mutilation is most required.

Isobel and I are already missing the Blue Rabbits - they did take up quite a lot of space and time, however enjoyable it has been getting to know them!  However, we've already started on another long-term project - Teddy Bears.  This coming Monday, Isobel is going to a meeting of a newly-organised Craft Group set up at St.Barnabas Cathedral in Nottingham (where we've already attended a Christmas Bazaar in the past) where a group of congregation regulars are using their various crafting skills to make things for sale - with a percentage of their cost going to help fund the cost of the Building's maintenance.  Isobel is making  small dressed Teddy Bears, based on these two friends of mine - 

Little Ed Ted (L) and Little Red Ted
One of the Ladies in the group has already said she will make Isobel a pattern for a Priestly Cassock and once received, we'll make them up in Black, Maroon and - if requested to do so - in White as well.  Then, possibly, these new additions to the COLDHAMCUDDLIES Shop will be called Padre Bear, Bishop Bear, and Papa Bear.  
Keep watching this space, Folks!  Meanwhile - have a good week Everyone.  I'll keep you posted!
Your Friend, Cy Bear.

Coldham Cuddlies Clinic