Friday, 28 December 2012

Treating the Waggstaff Bears: Part Three - Mohair Bear

Mohair Bear, as well as being the oldest of the three Waggstaff Bears, has also really been the most interesting project.  He arrived with his head dropping off, his face looking as though he'd been in a street fight in which he'd definitely come off worst, and was definitely so tightly stuffed as to not be a cuddly armful at all.  Indeed, until I began to de-stuff him, I thought his innards were comprised entirely of wood chippings.  In the end, I found it was a mixture of varying coloured cotton-wool, packed very tightly together.  The hardness had occurred, I later discovered, because the attic in which he'd been stored for many years was located by the coast, so damp had probably been absorbed which added to the hardness.  Here is a shot of what he looked like upon arrival.

Overall, Mohair Bear is not in bad condition at all.  His paw pads were incredibly hard - perhaps being leather which had hardened in the damp conditions he'd been kept in, but they needed to be replaced as they looked chipped, as though they had indeed been walking a long way!  By removing them and putting in some soft, glove quality leather instead, I was able to remove all his existing stuffing from his limbs without the need to take out the cotter-pin discs with which he had been created originally.

While he needed to have his head re-attached to his body, and new eyes put in - he had two leather buttons in place when he arrived - it was his mouth area that fascinated me.  You can see that he obviously had a red tongue originally, and that he had a red roof to his mouth area as well.  When I took his head to pieces,

 this is what I discovered.  The jaws had literally covered a disc contraption which looks like this.  No wonder his head was so hard, because while it, too, had the compacted cotton-wool stuffing, it also accommodated this piece of engineering - as well as the cotter-pin disc for attaching the head to the body!

A close-up picture of the mouthpiece contraption, showing how it is damaged - and therefore not to be recommended for re-use - is provided below

As the head was detached, I'm not quite sure exactly how it worked in practice, but presume the cotter-pin was somehow attached through that big hole in the top of the contraption.  Though when in place, I still cannot figure out how it actually worked!

Anyway, NickiW  came in for a further consultation before going any further - and we both agreed that this would no longer feature inside Mohair Bear's head and that I would endeavour to remake his mouth and jaw (which had several holes in the fabric where the jaws had rubbed during use).  To do this, I took about a 1-1/2 inch wide piece of fabric from the neck area of the body which by then had lost any stuffing that may have been there originally.  Using this, I patched some of the biggest holes and darned those that were easily treated in that manner and managed to create a nice new face for Mohair Bear - which I hope will serve him well for many years to come.  He also had two nice new Bear Eyes fitted, which are a whole lot better than his former leather buttons.

The rest of Mohair Bear, given his age, required no further treatment - although there was a bad hole at the top of one of his arms.  Once I'd de-stuffed that limb, I was able to use the remaining piece of cut away fabric as a patch.  The paw pads were all cut away and, once each limb had got its replacement stuffing, the new leather pads were stitched in place.

The newly-made head was fitted in place with a modern replacement plastic disc (cotter pins are still used, but I find them difficult to handle with my arthritic fingers, so prefer the plastic variety - they are less cumbersome, too!) and Mohair Bear was then ready to take his place in the banana box with his two younger friends.  With head and all limbs re-stuffed, all that remained was for his body to get it's quota of polyester stuffing and for the remaining seam to be sewn up.  Before doing that, however, I was asked to replace a tiny sea shell which had appeared on the scene from out of the huge pile of the previous cotton wool stuffing.   NickiW felt it would be a nice reminder to Mohair Bear of his previous, long term home!  It was indeed replaced, but carefully in the middle of his tummy, well away from any of the mohair fabric!

Mohair Bear now looks like this and Cy Bear was pleased to approve his new appearance!  Here is a final picture of the Waggstaff Threesome, together with their newly made friend Cy Bear.  He could not be left out of it, could he?

Now that the Saga of the Treatment of the Waggstaff Bears is complete, I have just one more post to complete drafting.  This may get done before I leave for High Wycombe to celebrate Christmas, but it may well have to wait until my return.  I hope to be able to post these three while I am away, but access to a computer for the time required for me to do my usual activities associated with these posts may not be possible.  So, in case I do not get the chance, I'll end my posting activities for 2012, by sending all of you, our wonderful Followers (270 in all, and getting ever near 10,000 views since we began in March 2011) my very best wishes for a Happy Christmas and a Prosperous New Year!  Isobel