Friday, 2 September 2011

Introducing Glove Puppets to the Cuddlies

The time has come for me to branch out a little - and that's thanks to Ed Ted's Best Friend, RFE.  After sending Ed Ted for treatment, and continuing to clear out the attic in his childhood home, he came across Big Koala (who was pictured with Cy Bear and Ed Ted appeared in our last post) and two glove puppets.

  Many of you may well be familiar with the television puppets Sooty and Sue (golden teddy bear glove puppets) who featured for a long time on Children's Television here in the UK during the 1970's and 1980's.  These two are Sooty and Sue look-alikes, having been hand made - probably by RFE's Mum or a friend of hers - to entertain  him when he was a little boy.  They were a little worse for wear, but not like Ed Ted and I've again been given a free hand as to how I treat them and what I do with them.  When complete, the intention is for both puppets and Big Koala (who still has to undergo his Clinic treatment) to be given away to a children's hospital for the patients there to play with.  The exact donor site has yet to be selected - but I'll keep you posted when a decision is made.

Big Koala, with his friend Ed Ted
So, to begin with, I took both the puppets to pieces.  The Sooty type has a really nice head, but was stuffed with lots of bits of wool, tightly packed together. They were not very clean looking, so have been discarded. Once in pieces, the Sooty head looks as though it will provide a really good template for a new puppet.

The Sue look-alike was a bit less impressive, her head was much smaller, her ears were badly crumpled, and the whole head was  a very hard feel. When I took her apart, I found the head to be made up of wood chippings, tightly packed together and shaped to provide a bear-type head.  Her eyes were small, perched on a thin piece of wire - there's a photo of head innards and eye coming up - and as I took them out of the stuffing, one eye came away in my fingers.   Very little force was needed to effect the separation! Tres dangereux!

Having got the heads off, I then attacked the bodies - or the bit where the hand goes in to operate the puppets.  Sooty's was a somewhat complicated piece of cloth which had been folded and stuffed into the wool.  Am not sure how it operated as successfully as it did - but I have decided to discard that piece as well as the body, as it seems to be more complicated than required to use in future.  This is how it looks:

The V-shaped darts are where the separate arms were sewn in.  Don't think my arthritic fingers would enjoy attempting to fit these into place, so am going to go with Sue's more straight-forward design, shown here:

To complete the Glove Puppet project, I've decided to actually use a combination of the two Bear puppets' patterns.  Sue's body and finger stall which fits into the head through the body - you can see where it should go in the centre of the  photo above;  the rest of the completed puppet will be taken from Sooty's profile.  A picture of all the bits can now be seen:

On the left of the photo, are the crown - with a plastic nose so tightly fitted that I cannot get it out, Sooty's hands and side of face, complete with his eyes - which again, I cannot move, there's Sue's head stuffing left in as a contrast (it's now in the garbage bin!), with the little eye and finger stall peering through.  The finger stall is made with cardboard, which has been shaped and glued together.  Sooty's black ears (in much better shape than Sue's brown ones) are being retained for the pattern template.  When made, I will be able to differentiate between the two puppets, because Sue's ears are made with brown plush and I'll embroider the facial features in black and brown yarn to match the respective toy.  When the templates are drawn, I will be discarding the original fabric pieces, as they are really too disreputable to use.

So the next stage is for me to press the pieces flat,  draw the templates on cardboard, as I have done with all the other recent toys I've made,  and cut them out and place them on the new golden plush fur fabric I just happen to have in stock.  There's enough for at least two puppets, and I may be able to get one more - it will depend on how they fit on the piece of material.

However, the really exciting thing about this whole glove puppet project is that when complete, I think the finished head will be similar in size to my Rabbits and Foxes already offered at  I'm going to experiment with a head of each toy to see if my suspicions are correct.  If so I will  then be able to offer Bear Glove Puppets in future, as well as the other animal puppets as well.  With Christmas, Thanksgiving etc. coming up, think they should provide a good novelty or stocking stuffer item!  What think you?

A quick update - the Soft Toy Clinic (Etsy Listing #79124185) - can now forge ahead.  Susan from Bear  Basics got back in touch yesterday (September 1), having re-opened her business after her summer vacation. She has been able to match Brr Bear's fur and the material has been ordered - and actually arrived here today!.  Alas, Tommy Teddy's matching has yet to be achieved, but I have decided to look for something in the fleece line - there are more pastel colours on offer in that area, I believe.

The little bear with a big burn on his cheek is called Rupert, and I'm meeting his Mum tomorrow to see if the swatch from Bear Basics is acceptable to her.  If it is, I will be ordering that at the beginning of next week, together with a selection of Growlers for placing in bears that have been known to talk.  Brr Bear is one of them, so by the time I've deconstructed  him, given him a wash and ironed him back into shape, I'll be able to place his new voice into his body when I come to re-stuff him.  Delivery date for him is  two week's hence!

So, I've got my work cut out - think Cy Bear will be posting the next few editions of the blog!  Meanwhile, I'm signing off.  Isobel