Sunday, 4 March 2012

As promised: finally, the Tale of Mons. Reynard

Cy Bear has been talking about it, and I've been thinking about it, and now - finally - here beginneth the Tale of Mons. Reynard - with the first installment of his rejuvenation treatment.

As those of you who regularly follow us here know, Mons Reynard (Mons.R) has been a patient in the Soft Toy Clinic (Etsy Listing # 79124185) for several months now.  He, and Mme Lapin (who is expected back from her 360 degree imaging procedure on Wednesday  or Thursday of next week), belong to my French-based sister-in-law, IvyM, for whom I originally made them over 30 years ago.  The exact date has been lost in the "mists of time".

When Mons.R arrived last August, he looked like this:

His "stuffing" did not allow a standing up picture
When I got to work on him, I was very pleased to find that apart from years of accumulated dust and stuffing that had deteriorated, there really was not too much wrong with him.  He needed a good wash, re-stuffing and a new set of boots, because the leather his boots are made from  in this picture was all that was available to me at the time of production and I never really liked them!  Plus, Edmonton, Alberta where we then lived was not as well supplied for craft materials then as it is now from all accounts.  In addition, I now have reasonably ready access to a selection of remnants of glove-quality leather and like to use that when making my gentleman toys.

In pieces, and clearly showing the dust on  Mons.R's  fur.

Mons.R's clothing - and broken boots!

Mons.R's boots had dried out so much over the years that once I got to work with my "Quik-Unpic " the stitches simply tore the leather as I worked to remove them.  As I'd already decided to change his boots, they were no loss!  His felt coat was in such good condition that I decided all that was required was a careful vacuum to remove his surface dust.  Then unpicking the stitching, and turning everything inside out would suffice to give him a "new" overcoat.  Felt, of course, does not respond well to getting wet, so I had been prepared to give him a complete new outfit, but really did not feel one was required.  I did decide, however, that modern fashion dictated that  some extra adornment might not go amiss.

The trousers have their own story which might amuse.  Some years before, shortly after Peter and I married, we were donated  an armchair by his mother who was packing up and moving permanently to Canada.  The chair had always been known as "Peter's" Chair, and woe betide any family member who sat in it when the "owner" was present!  However, over the years it had become - well - shall we say a little shabby.  So, I decided to have a go at some soft-furnishing and try to recover said object.  We found the material together, I think, in Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk - the nearest big town to where we were then living - and after some hesitation, the deed was done.  Forever afterwards, it was known as the Gold Chair!  Alas, when we ourselves moved to Canada, the frame was in no fit state to accompany us, but I did retain the remnants from the project - and Mons. R was the ultimate beneficiary, as they became his trousers.

To return to the present, though:  I was not sure how the brocade would respond to washing after all these years (nearer 40 than 30!) but decided to have a go.  Using the well tried technique of soaking all the material designated for such treatment in cold water overnight, the next morning I gently washed each piece in lukewarm water and soft soapy detergent - and boy did the dirt come out!  I then rinsed them well  and pegged them on to a clothes maiden perched over one of our radiators.

Everything was dripping wet here - but the trousers did still cause some concern!
By the afternoon of the same day, everything but the trousers was ready for pressing into shape, so I waited a further 24 hours, and we were ready to begin the rejuvenation treatment in earnest.

There is a significant difference already in his appearance I think you will all agree!  Here is Mons.R's head ready for his ears to be replaced, with two new glass-look plastic eyes, complete with metal safety  washer.  (I had made his original ones using felt, and he had always had a somewhat "oriental" look, which somehow did not look quite right to me!)   His new boots are ready to be sewn together and the head and ears are resting on  his newly vacuumed felt coat!  You wouldn't think that the felt was over 30 years' old would you?

Showing Mons.R's original eyes!

Right - time to end this post:  the second installment will follow in a day or so.  I've got to do some sewing for the upcoming Spring Shopping Day this week-end, as you know, and there are still some more toys to make.  I've done 3 replacement Baby Koalas and cut out a new Bear which I hope to have complete in a day or two.  So the next post will have to be fitted in somehow.

In the meantime, goodnight, take care of yourselves - and be with you again soon.  Isobel

Mercantile Muse: And that award goes to......

Mercantile Muse: And that award goes to...... www, Many thanks for the helpful boost!