Monday, 29 April 2013

Some Hails and Farewells to tell you about!

Warm and Happy Greetings to you all - Cy Bear signing in to bring you up to date on various happenings in the ColdhamCuddlies world.

Now that the computer has been returned, Isobel seems to be getting to grips with things although there are still some problems.  She's found a programme (whatever that is - it's foreign to us Bears, of course) that will tell her how to work with Windows8, and looks out for it in the daily post.  It hasn't arrived yet, but when it does, guess there won't be too many posts happening while she plays with the computer and, hopefully, digests the contents of what ever is in the package when it arrives.

Meanwhile, in between computer hassles, Isobel has been busy with some replacements.  Starting off with our Barn Owl friends, she decided to make two of everything when she replaces Cuddlies who have found their Forever Homes.  Just as well she did in the case of the Owls, as no sooner had she made the two of them, and even before she renewed them in the Etsy Listings for the Shop, one of them was purchased and is even now on its way to Edmonton, Alberta, Canada - his Forever Home is going to be with AndyB's Grandma - who, according to HeatherB (Andy's  Mum) is "very fond of Owls".  He was parcelled up and sent off before we could have one of our traditional Farewell pictures (with me in the photographs), but here is a picture of the Owl Twins before one of them left us.

The Twin on his way to Canada is the one on the right of the photograph.  Isobel put numbered labels under each Owl's talons, and HeatherB chose the one she wanted her Mum to get.  So, there will now have to be another replacement Owl once the other jobs have been completed.

The next replacement project Isobel had on her list was to produce another Green Frog.  She duly cut him out and was almost ready to stuff him, when she showed him to the lady who comes to look after Isobel's feet (I believe they are called Podiatrists).  Well, no sooner had MrsJulietW seen the unfinished Frog, but she said she'd buy him once he was completed.  Isobel told her that she still had the Green & Orange Frog (Etsy Listing #116285186) if she would like to see  him before making up her mind finally.

MrsJulietW took one look at the fellow on the right, and bought him on the spot.  Apparently she is "Frog Mad" - as she described herself, and I'm told that when Isobel went into Warminster after her treatment, her car is full of frogs - of all shapes and sizes.  At least six others were on the back window ledge, there were some hanging in the car itself and there were even some on the dashboard!!  So our Frog won't be lonely!  I've since learned that her house is called "Frogwell", and that MrsJulietW has some real frogs, as well as us toys ones!  This meant that we had to have another two new Frogs in the Shop at  They are slightly different - because we now have an Orange and Green Frog (the colours are switched from the that shown in the previous photograph) as well as a Green Frog (in the same two shades of Green).  Isobel will be doing a post about how she makes Frogs sometime soon, so we'll show you the two new Cuddlies properly then.

Then, at the week-end, we learned that Beau Fox has a new Forever Home.  His Forever Friend has a birthday coming up later this month, and her friend HelenS asked if we could possibly send him to Lochgilphead in Scotland.   I think that is in the UK, because the parcel that has been made up so that he can be posted off tomorrow (Tuesday, April 30) doesn't have an Air Mail sticker on it.  So, this afternoon, before Beau Fox was wrapped up in tissue paper and bubble wrap, and while the sun was shining, Isobel had a photo session in and around our grounds here at Heytesbury.  Here is the official Farewell photograph of Beau Fox before he goes to his Forever Friend.

Then, because it was such a lovely day, we decided to take a photograph of me with the remaining Barn Owl Twin.

Then, we can show you all the Cuddlies we've been telling you about today - including the two new Frogs.

Which is why this post has been entitled "Some Hails and Farewells to tell you about".    Good night - until the next time.  Cy Bear!

Thursday, 25 April 2013

The Latest Foxes and how they joined the Coldham Cuddlies

Earlier in April  - 08/04/2013 to be exact, under the title "Attempting to Re-start the Posting Process...", I threatened to tell you how our Country Gentleman Fox and Beau Fox appeared in our shop at  The post was really a repeat of the Etsy listing for each Fox, plus a few extra items to make it a little more interesting (hopefully!).    I hadn't intended the gap in the process to be quite a long as it has been, but having completed the reports on Turner Bear's treatment, there were some unexpected delays in getting the new computer back, and it's really only today that I've been able to try to post about the production process for Foxes.  So, here goes:

As ever. these Cuddlies are made with separate calico bodies, which are then stuffed and made ready to have their clothing attached.
Country Gentleman Fox (CGF) 
As I go along, I'm finding that it's better for me to get all the bits and pieces sewn together so that heads, tails, boots, jacket (with arms and paws attached in this case) are ready to be put on the body as soon as trousers and waistcoat are in place too.

While waiting to attached the jacket, I used some rubber bands to hold CGF's newly-cut tassels in place at the top of his boots.  The suede leather was a tad inclined to stick out instead of facing downwards, and I experimented with the rubber bands which just happened to be at hand.  It actually worked quite well, and  I shall be using this as a patented Morrell method in future - when the need arises.

This rear view of CFG shows the white tip that all my Gentlemen Foxes are given - to distinguish them (as in real life) from the Ladies whose brushes are all in natural chestnut plush.

Once this fellow was completed, the process began all over again for Beau Fox -  whose apricot
pink fleece trousers make a change from the white felt johdpurs that my Gentlemen Foxes tend to appear with. The fabric happens to be left over from making the The Pig Twins earlier this year.  As I didn't have sufficient for another whole Pig, Beau Fox's johdpur trousers seemed the best place to use the remnant up.

 The waistcoat is a rather smart blue plaid fabric, which was part of the haul I received when I last picked  up  my fabric supply from the Fine Quality Feather Company in Frome, Somerset some weeks' ago.  (The Three Buchanan Foxes' dresses - described in our posts "Making the Buchanan Foxes, Parts One and Two - 18/02/2013 and 25/02/2013) - were part of that consignment), and I have some other unusual plaid fabrics to use in future - whose destiny has yet to be decided.

As I was finishing the waistcoat, I decided to see what might happen if I put the sleeves in at this point, rather than waiting to insert them in the overcoat/jacket.  I had some rather nice royal blue velvet remnant to hand, so decided to use it for Beau Fox - to show up the waistcoat, and also decided not to hide it when attaching the outer garment.  I also thought that a little light blue ric rac added a certain "je ne sais quois" to the overall look - what think you?

His boots are made with a lovely crimson soft glove leather remnant I have in my leather collection, and I then added the white stock to finish the overall look.  At that point, I did waver:  because he actually looks quite smart as he is - without the full jacket.  However, having cut out the jacket, I went ahead and completed it - and actually think he looks even smarter than before, especially with the double breasted fastening, which allows the waistcoat to be viewed, as well as the scorpion type emblem embroidered on the white felt stock.  This is what makes creating my Cuddlies such enormous fun - without an original pattern, I'm absolutely lost:  but give me a pattern, and my creativity has almost no bounds!

This last photograph was taken just a few days ago, with the sunshine blazing and the garden here at The Hospital of St. John just beginning to burst into flower.  I also took some of CGF at the same time, as well as one or two of them together.

Now that Spring is beginning to show it's hand, I shall endeavour to take as many photographs outside as I can.  Obviously, while the production process is in hand that does also mean that some still have to be taken in the work-room, but I do think daylight makes such a difference to showing off our Cuddlies!  Hope you do too.

Have got some outside shots of the Owl Twins (now only one still looking for a new home) as well as two new Frogs to show you.  That will have to wait until next time.  In the interim, I'll close this post  - and wish you all a great week-end.  Seems like it was  only yesterday when I was posting about AndyB's Christening in Edmonton, Aberta! - and yet it is 6 days ago, already and Clare arrived back in the UK earlier today!   How the time flies!   Isobel 

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Celebrating a very Special Occasion - with the help of a Cuddly or two

Cy Bear and I are delighted to bring you a post which is all about some Cuddlies who found their Forever Home just before Christmas last year, but whom we have not told you about before, or if we have, it has been in passing.  Because we are still having computer problems, we are not absolutely sure that this post will actually go ahead today.  But in any case, as England is 7 hours ahead of Alberta, Canada, we may still be able to get it published (and read even) on the Special Day itself, because my new computer is due to return to duty sometime tomorrow afternoon/evening.

At the moment, Clare - who normally is based in Nottinghamshire, England, UK  - is holidaying with a school friend in Edmonton, Alberta.  They've been friends since they first met in Junior High School (Grades V-V11) and have kept in touch (spasmodically at times, admittedly) ever since.  When they met, though, report has it that it didn't feel like 26 years since the last saw each other!  In December last yearHeatherB (incidently she and her family have been our most prolific customer in Canada!) and her husband welcomed the arrival of AndyB into their family, and invited Clare to become his Godmother.  So, last Monday, she got a 'plane to Edmonton, and has been re-living childhood memories, meeting some of Peter's and my (and hers) Canadian chums and getting ready to take up the responsibilities of this important relationship (for the third time, incidentally!).

As is usual in the ColdhamCuddlies world, Cy Bear made sure he witnessed the departure of Mr. Coyote (Mr.C) and our Baby Yellow Bunny when they were dispatched to Clare, so she could send them as a Welcome to the World present when AndyB arrived early in December.  MrC, was specifically chosen by Clare, as she understood HeatherB often played with her dogs and baby Coyotes in fields nearby her home on the outskirts of Edmonton.  Otherwise, we might have sent a Fox instead, but chestnut coloured foxes -  like our English ones  - are not to be found in Alberta, so we felt he would be more appropriate as a playtime friend for young AndyB as he grows up.

Mr. C and Cy Bear before being prepared to travel 
The Yellow Baby Bunny is the last of his kind, and actually was made from material I used to make when we lived in Canada in the 1980's.  I've made Baby Bunnies like this for newly-arrived Little People ever since, and the one now with AndyB finished the supply of that particular fabric.  So, he's a special Baby Bunny for a special little Boy.

The photograph of Baby Bunny on his own, is one taken in the garden here at Heytesbury and has been used in our shop  He'd been on his own for some time, so it was lovely we could send him to AndyB, because he is most like my very first Baby Bunny, made for daughter Philippa when she was about the same age as AndyB is now - and the model for many different coloured Baby Bunnies since!

The Bunny in front is the model for the Snowy March Hares (Etsy Listing #125962011
Once AndyB arrived, and the date for his Baptism was set, I asked HeatherB if she could send me some photos of the young man and his toys.  She kindly did so, and here they are.  Captions are really not required, are they?

Have a great day Andy:  may you cry when the Priest pours water over you - so the Devil leaves you! and my best wishes to you,  Mum Heather, Dad Clint and God Mother Clare - as well as all the families to which you belong!

Lots of love - Isobel and Cy Bear!

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Turner Bear's Treatment - Part Two

Hello Everyone - Cy Bear being allowed to take over the story of Turner Bear's return to full, smart health.  In the interim, since Isobel took you up to and including his wash and dry-out, we've been joined by two Barn Owl Cuddlies.  One being a replacement for Ben Barn Owl  (who will be re-listed later) and the other being an order placed by a Family Friend from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada - who will be on his way early this week.  Doubtless, their production process will form part of a future post - but in the meantime, let's get back to Turner Bear.

Once Isobel had collected all his pieces together from the clothes airer, it was a question of tacking them on to the new coat pieces.  When that part of the treatment was finished, they looked like this:

Each time we have a Bear in for treatment, Isobel seems to find a better way to put them back together again.  This time, she decided, once she had tacked all his old pieces on to the new ones, she would stuff the limbs from the bottom, as opposed to the top.  She also put in the joint discs too.  It worked out much easier this time around, and adding the new beige paw pads was easier this time around as well.  The next stage was to put in Turner's new eyes (his old ones had been buttons, rather than the more modern plastic safety backed ones now on the market).

Once these were in place, the old eyes were put into a plastic bag together with all the old cotter pin joints, and original ears (which were slightly smaller than his new ones and would have looked out of place if they had been attached to this new heard).  We keep all the old pieces to give back to our Patients' Forever Friends - in case they want to keep them.  In Turner's case, MrsJS decided to take them home with her, but didn't think she'd be keeping them for too long: probably, just so she could show them to her family.  

There's just one more picture to be included:  it's one of Turner's original paw pads.  In close-up, you can see just how small the seam was.  As Isobel said in our previous post, it's something of a miracle that he lasted as long as he did - and a tribute to the strength of the original mohair fabric with which he was made.  This paw pad was in some sort of felt material, which was much thicker than the felt now available.

Once the eyes were in, Isobel then proceeded to stuff each limb and once it was sewn up they were placed on his body.  The head went on first - and was quite a struggle to fit because the new material's pile did seem to be thicker than the neck joint's pillar length.  Eventually, Isobel succeeded and then it was relatively plain sailing until Turner looked like this.

As you can see - this is the first picture we've been able to take outside this year.  Isobel took advantage of some Spring sunshine, and took this and a few more just to celebrate - both the completion of Turner's treatment, and also the fact that the awfully long winter seems finally to be retreating and summer may not now be too long in its arrival.  

And just one more - one of our farewell photographs in which I like to be present.  Turner and I got to know each other quite well while he was with us - as he did seem to be unhappy with only one ear.  So, I tried to comfort him by having him sit next to me on Isobel's bed each day.

As Turner used to look without his ear

As he looked when he went home with his Forever Friend, MrsJS  last week.  It's been great knowing him, and I hope he'll enjoy life getting to know his Family.

Good night and good bye for the time being.  Cy Bear.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Turner Bear's Treatment - Part One

 Cy Bear and I are pleased to be able to tell you that Turner Bear has now been treated in our Soft Toy Restoration Clinic (Etsy Listing #79124185) and was picked up to return home this afternoon.  MrsJS, his Forever Friend is very happy with end result.

First of all, we thought you'd like to know how he got his unusual name?  Well, Turner actually belonged to MrsJS's Mother and she had never allowed her daughter to play with him as most Bears get played with!  When Mother died, Turner arrived to stay with MrsJS, and by that time she still did not feel that close to him and he was just Bear, and lived for years in a drawer.  When MrsJS saw the finished version of Edward Bear ((How Edward Bear became a New Bear Part 1
 20.01.13 and Part 2 - 22.01.13, and Oops, Edward Bear Needs a Nose Job - 31.01.13)        ), she asked me to have a look at her Bear (I noticed he did not then have a name) to see if I could do anything for him.  He looked like this at the time:

As far as I was concerned, he was in pretty good condition - when one recalls the state of some of my previous Clinic Patients, so I did not foresee too many problems and was quite prepared to accept him as a patient.  However, I do like to be able to have a name by which the Patients can be distinguished between each other.  MrsJS was asked to put her thinking cap on.  The choice came two to between Llewellen Bear (her Mother's maiden name) or Turner Bear (MrsJS's maiden name). As I have a problem typing, let alone saying the former, we both decided on the latter!  So, Turner Bear he became when he joined us at the end of January this year.

Then came the search for as close a match as possible to his rather unusual Bear colouring.  Whilst pale yellow and gold bears are quite common as Patients, and Brown Bears of different shades and Silvery Brown Bears are to be found in our shop at, Red Bears are not as frequently seen.  So the first step in our search was for Turner to lose his left ear, so that it could be sent away to my mohair fabric supplier - Mohair Bear Making Supplies of Telford, Shropshire. 

 (To ensure that Turner's Ear did not meet the same fate that Edward Bear's had, it was sent by Recorded Delivery - ensuring that a signature was collected at the other end of the journey!)

Turner Bear and Cy Bear - with the former minus an ear

While we waited with fingers crossed, I got on with Treating TW Bear making The Buchanan
Foxes (Etsy Listing #65456642) and the Snowy March Hares (Etsy Listing #125962011).  When the match came back, it was absolutely spot on - but I couldn't proceed without MrsJS' input.  We both are regular Zumba attendees so it can be convenient to exchange such details there.  On this occasion,  however, she visited us at my home.  I was given the go-ahead, and a couple of days after, the treatment began.

It turned out not to be as easy as has been the case with our other Bear Patients.  We worked out that Turner was likely to be over 100 years' old - if he'd been with his original Forever Friend since she was a baby.  Whoever made him used very, very tiny machine stitches and the seams were less than an eighth of an inch wide.  It is something of a miracle that he stayed in one piece as well as he did - even though he had obviously not been cuddled as much as some Bears can be.  I think the secret lies in the fact that the original tacking had been left in.

The purple tacking can be seen in place on the  back seam
Consequently, the unpicking process took me a whole 6 hours - but eventually we reached the point where all his pieces were ready to be immersed in a luke warm bath - to remove the dust and left-over stuffing.

Stuffing:  paw pieces and cotter pins used for Turner's head and limbs
L to R - Legs, fronts, head and 1 ear, arms and back pieces
The stuffing was actually somewhat different to that I've been used to dealing with.  While it felt like wood, it wasn't the chippings I've had to discard previously and held it's shape much better when parted from the fabric.  It also did not leave the material as dusty as the normal chippings do. So, Turner did not need an all night soak in the end, merely a quick soapy wash and rinse, after a couple of hours soaking in the luke warm water I find so useful in removing the superficial dust that lingers on these occasions.

After a bath, I don't wring out any Bear  (or any other old toy for that matter).  I put each piece on to a flat towel, and then roll the towel up very tightly.  Once the towel gets unfolded, most of the moisture has left the Bear pieces and they are ready to be hung up on my clothes airer (over night in Turner's case), and he was then ready for the next stage(s).  These will be unfolded in our next post - which Cy Bear is itching to undertake!

Until then, we leave you with the hope that everyone is well - and our thanks for continuing to view this blog in increasing numbers.  When I looked earlier today, we've got to 13,600+ which is wonderfully encouraging!  Good night - and God Bless.  Isobel

Monday, 8 April 2013

Attempting to re-start the posting process - here goes!

It seems a long, long time since I posted here - and yet it's only been two weeks!  However, in that time I've discovered a lot of things about computers that I never knew (nor wished to!), but have  I've now sussed how to upload pictures to Etsy, so there are two more Cuddlies in our shop at  Obeying the suggestions received via Tim Adams of Handmadeology Team on Etsy to then post the item to one's blog, I'm now going to try and do it there today and thus prove that I have indeed mastered the arcane route through Windows 8 and all.

 (To be fair to Tim:  he did suggest it should be done immediately after listing on Etsy - but frankly I was so exhausted by the effort needed to do the listing yesterday, that I decided today would be better late than never!)

Etsy Listing #59809283
Our latest Country Gentleman Fox is a Retro Collectable Chestnut Plush Furry Fox Toy, dressed in Hunting Pink - the latest version of a popular ColdhamCuddlies toy.  He's actually a re-listing of one of the original ColdhamCuddlies listed on Etsy in September 2010 - one version of whom found a Forever Home on the outskirts of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada early in 2012.

(He was purchased early by a lady from our village of Heytesbury for her daughter who still lives in British Columbia.  It later transpired, as these things do in subsequent conversations, that not only did she know where on Vancouver Island our home was at that time, but also that I worked for her father's accountant in Victoria, during our sojourn on the Island!!)

His body is made separately with calico and stuffed with polyester fibre which meets all international safety standards.  He has a waistcoat which is made with Red Felt, over a striped Brown and White waistcoat, which is not actually visible.  Like all our Collectable Toys, this Country Gentleman is not made to be undressed, and is ideally suitable for children aged 3 years upwards. His riding trousers are made with white felt and his boots are made from Black Suede Glove quality Leather, with self-colour tassles as a turnover at his calf.  His jacket is made with red felt.  He has a white felt stock round his neck and his head paws and tail are made with chestnut brown plush furry material  His tail is tipped with white plush furry material to distinguish him from the lady foxes.

This Country Gentleman Fox measures 17.5 inches (40.45 cms) from tip of ears to the sole of his boots, with a tail measuring 5 inches (10.03 cms).  He weighs approximately 250g and is stuffed with polyester fibrefill meeting all international safety standards.  This allows him to be treated as a Small Packet when travelling via the UK Royal Mail's standard parcel postal rate.

This Country Gentleman also has a companion - by name Beau Fox:  allow me to introduce him here:

Etsy Listing #128704624
O.A.A.K.Beau Fox, the latest in a line of ColdhamCuddlies Retro Collectable  Fox Toys, is made with Chestnut Plush fabric and  dressed in a Royal Blue Velvet Coat, trimmed at the wrist with light blue ric rac trimming.  He has blue tartan waistcoat, which can be glimpsed under the coat front, which is fastened with two silver gilt buttons.  His bushy tail has the white tip that all Gentleman Foxes grow up with.  His Apricot Felt trousers are made in the traditional riding habit estyle and are set off with Crimson Leather Boots with a self colour tassle turnover at the calf.  The leather is glove quality and very soft.  He has a white stock, decorated with a red emblem,  to set off the Royal Blue Velvet Coat. As a Collectable Toy, Beau cannot be undressed - but he makes a cuddly armful for children ideally aged 3 years and upwards.  He is not recommended for younger children because of the buttons on his coat, which might be vulnerable to prying little folks' fingers.   Previous incarnations of Mr. Fox have become Company Mascots.

(I've just remembered that one early Mr. Fox - dressed like our Country Gentleman (before ColdhamCuddlies became more than a hobby) sat on a bookcase in Peter's office.  He was a Father's Day present one year, as he admitted he'd always envied our daughters their Foxes in Edmonton, Alberta and became a conversation piece when visitors came for meetings!  Alas, he is no longer - having not survived our moves around the UK).

Beau measures 17.5 inches (40.45 cms) from the tip of his ears over his muzzle to the sole of his feet.  His tail is 5 inches long (10.03 cms and he weighs approximately 250 g.  This would allow him to travel as a standard Small Package via the Royal Mail International parcels system.  He is stuffed with polyester fibrefill meeting all international safety standards and has plastic brown eyes fixed with a safety backing.  His facial features have been applied with black double knitting yarn and his fluffy ears are lined with light fawn satin.

These Foxes usually take between 3-6 days to produce from pattern to final article, and Buyers should be aware that I no longer drive and am thus reliant on rural public transport in order to reach Royal Mail outlets capable of handling international packages.  This I do on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays of most weeks - so in cases where deadlines are a factor, please take this fact into consideration when placing your orders.

As is my custom here, I'll be doing a blow-by-blow description of each Fox's construction, in later posts, but just to end with - and to rejoice in my having achieved what I did begin to think an impossibility - here is a final picture of both gentlemen, sharing the limelight together.

It's good to be back - and here's to the next time:  soon.  God Bless.  Isobel