Monday, 21 May 2012

The Best Laid Plans of Man and Beast........Part One

The post that follows was actually drafted (and should have been published) May 21 before Peter and I left for a week-end re-visiting old haunts in Nottinghamshire, to where we returned from 12 years in Canada in 1987.   As with all plans, it did not exactly work out that way........

However, as it was ready for consumption I've decided to publish it today after telling all my wonderful Followers (we've reached 180 as of today!) that, alas, although we made it to daughter Clare's home and began our visits, Peter died very suddenly on Saturday, May 26.  A post mortem was required  (we'd seen our Doctor within the 5 day period before the event, and because it all happened when we were away from home).  The cause of death was established as a Pulmonary Embolism caused by a deep vein thrombosis.  The Diamond Jubilee celebrations for our Queen meant that nothing official happened until June 6, by which time the Cathedral of St. Barnabas in Nottingham (where Clare and Alan married nearly 10 years' ago) was unavailable for Peter's Requiem until June 15.  So, it was only last Thursday, June 21 that I returned home again.  

Since then, older daughter Philippa and I have been sorting things.  Both my girls did not want me to come home alone for the first time and it has helped enormously to have Philippa with me - until she returned to her home base (and work, tomorrow) earlier today.  I really have returned home and the neighbours here have all been very supportive, but it is going to take some getting used to. September this year would have seen us celebrating 43 years of marriage - although we'd known each other as good friends for 50, so there is now a big hole to be filled.  

The Cuddlies - up to now just a therapeutic pastime are going to come into their own - hopefully - as I try to build up the business now that there is more time to devote to it.  With hard work on my part, and the assistance of  all you folks who kindly comment and follow us at, I am hoping that you not only will continue to do so, but recommend us to your friends, family and acquaintances, especially those who might like to have a Cuddly of their own!

Now - to the post that I talked about earlier:

"There's a new Cuddly Bear on the block:

Or, rather, another  member of the ColdhamCuddlies Family, is in our shop at  He has been listed in the shop for almost a week now, but this is the first time I've been able to sit down to post about him.  Strictly speaking, he's not really NEW, but a replacement for the Light Brown Bear that  featured in the shop until he became one of The Italian Mob and departed for Italy and all points south early in February this year!  (See our post "Sequel to the Tales of the Italian Mob" - 17/05/2012.

This version of our Light Brown Plush Bear is actually the fifth one to have been a ColdhamCuddly.  The first and second live in England, both not too far away from here in Heytesbury:  the third - and actually the first, ever sale for ColdhamCuddlies went to Massachusetts, and the fourth - as mentioned above - went to Sequals, Italy. As you can see, he has an extremely determined look!  So much so, that that is how he has been listed in the shop (Etsy Listing #69778158). He is now also a Limited Edition Bear (there will be 6 in total) because I am finding more toys that I can make using this particular plush fabric - and variety is, after all, the spice of life, is it not?

 I took pictures of the construction process, and will start at the beginning.

Here you can see all the relevant bits and pieces involved in the construction of any one of my Bears.  There are two ears, which have already been turned to the right side - top left corner of the photograph.  Then there are the two arms, two legs, head and main body, all with the relevant spots requiring the limbs and head to be affixed correctly.

As I have made more Bears - and the other toys - I've developed a fixed order of doing things, and am thus able to cut out two different toys (not necessarily of the same species) and work on them at the same time.  This guy was cut out at the same time as Ben Barn Owl (Etsy Listing #99686556), and when he was safely listed and posted about (see the post on 12/05/2012)) I was able to get on with the latest Light Brown Bear.

The next picture along the production process shows him with both legs and arms attached and just waiting for his head to be attached - using plastic post joints, each complete with its matching washer.

The joints are almost impossible to detach once put together, so one has to be careful when placing them together.  I have been able to prise one apart (on the occasion that the fabric gave way because I had cut carelessly in the first place) - but pliers and a great deal of brute force was required.  I am therefore confident, that barring really rough treatment on the part of  my Cuddlies' Best Friends and careful preparation of the hole on my part, all limbs and heads should stay where they are put!

While the arms and legs are pretty straight forward to fix, I do find that the heads can sometimes be a little awkward.  My arthritic fingers don't always co-operate and when combined with the thickness of the plush pile (one has both the neck piece of the head and the body to cope with), and the plastic post attached to the disc is not always long enough.  I find that by cutting the pile fairly close to the surface of the fabric (hence the problem of the fabric wearing, if one is not careful) and making a very small hole through which to push the plastic disc post, with the aid of an old-fashioned, wooden (not plastic) cotton reel - with a nice round hole which usually covers the post, I can use the weight of my body to force the washer on, provided the head is in contact with a solid surface - hard wood floor, shelf or some similar unforgiving object!!

 (This tip was passed on to me by my elderly neighbour who is a retired Teddy Bear maker and from whom I inherited most of my toys' eyes to date, as well as some of the plastic joints!  We also both suffer with arthritic fingers!)

Finally, here is our latest Cuddly with his head and limbs in place - and waiting to receive his body stuffing, ears, and his facial features - now that his eyes are in place!

Since this post has gone on quite long enough, will end this story for now.  I'll complete the production story shortly - but have to warn everyone that I'm away from my computer for a few days so that we can have a family get-together at our younger daughter, Clare's home in Nottinghamshire (about 4 hours journey away) and given the programme that has been laid out, there simply will not be sufficient time for the next episode to appear until we return early next week.

 Determined Bear does have a soft side - and to prove it, here's a picture of him looking sweet!

So, with good luck and a following wind, Cy Bear and I will be back again soon!  Isobel   

PS;  The next installment of how Determined Bear arrived in the shop at will follow shortly.