Saturday, 29 November 2014

The Smith Puppet Saga - Part 2

Greetings Everyone - Cy Bear here! Good to be with you and allowed to contribute to the exciting events happening in the Coldham Cuddlies Family.  


You can see that I am  in my customary place, these days, on Isobel's bed.  It's much more comfortable than previously - when I was perched on top of a bookshelf in the hallway of our previous home, although  I don't now see who comes in and out to visit us!  This photo was taken when the Tiger fabric Isobel had found was photographed to send to JS - our latest customer (mentioned in our previous past last week-end).  So, it seemed obvious that I should take up the story today.
The first thing was to cut out the pattern, and a new template for the Tiger Head and a puppet body (using our Hand Puppets as an example) was made for this particular project.  The body was lengthened to accommodate JS's personal dimensions from finger tip to elbow and the width of his hand from finger tip to tip of thumb.  Once the outside fabric was cut out, a lining in exactly the same size as the body was also cut out.  (Sometimes the fabric backing for the plush materials can be a bit scratchy).  Both versions (lining and outer shapes) were then hand sewn and with wrong sides facing, fitted together - meeting at neck and arm openings and the bottom hem.  It results, I am told, in a very nice, warm space for the puppeteer to operate the Tiger as and when required.

Isobel then sewed the pieces for the head, ears,
and arms (for which she'd used the Teddy Bear arm templates she has in her Pattern Library).
They all looked like this when we sent a photograph to JS  - showing progress to date.
Then, once the eyes had been put in place (green plastic pillar eyes, with metal safety backs -purchased from a fellow Etsy  producer Clara - from had been fixed Isobel proceeded to build DanielS - stuffing his arms lightly to give them some bant.  The head was firmly filled and the ears attached so that he looked like some of the photographs of Daniel Tiger that JS  had provided Isobel to work with.

Some finger guides were then constructed from cardboard, which were rolled into a 2" tube  sewn in place - rather than glued or stapled - and covered with the same calico lining that the body was lined with.  To make sure that the stuffing in Daniel's head did not escape during operations, Isobel cut out a circular piece of calico and sewed it into the neck cavity.  She then cut a hole and pushed the neck finger guide through and arranged the head.  Then the whole head was attached to the body, at the neck hole.  Both arms had their finger guides sewn in as well, and then the arms were attached - as shown in the the picture below.  In order to protect the stuffing in the arms, the guides were sewn with a cover over the tube hole at one end.

You can see the difference in length of the body between Tommy Tiger, the Puppet prototype and Daniel S in this photograph, which was taken at the same time.  Tommy was made to fit a Lady's arm, because that was the only model available at the time he was cut out.

Once DanielS'  facial features (going by the photo guides we'd been given) had been done, this photo was sent to JS to see if the puppet was acceptable.  He also had some claws embroidered on to each hand.
One of the photos of the original Daniel

One of the photos of the original Daniel
A positive response was received and Daniel was then prepared for his journey to Tulsa, Okalahoma

 The next installment of this intriguing story will take place shortly - and it's getting more interesting, and exciting as the days go by.  But I'll let Isobel take up the narrative next time.                                                                           

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Puppet Personalities become Associate Cuddlies - The Smith Puppet Saga: Part 1

Hello Everyone - sorry, yet again,  for the lapse in posting here, but what with a successful Craft Show now over, and replacements required before it started, and the subject of this (and subsequent posts) to also create, I've not been free to post - however much I've wanted to.

One of the exciting things of being the COLDHAMCUDDLIES Toymaker is that one never knows when, or – more often – if, one is going to get an order which will result in a Cuddly finding his/her Adoptive Home.

So, early in October, when I received a “Convo” - the Etsy “technical term” for a message from a potential Customer – from JS, whom I subsequently discovered hails from Tulsa, Oklahoma – enquiring whether I would be able to make him a Hand Puppet larger than the ones we already offer in our shop at www.Etsy,com/shop/COLDHAMCUDDLIES, I was definitely up for the challenge.

(Regular Followers of my Blog will know that I rarely, if ever, refer to my customers by anything other than their initials.  They all get copies of the post in which their Adopted Cuddly(ies) are mentioned, but I prefer to keep their full names private.  However, on this occasion I am using the surname I have been given just for the title of this, and subsequent installments, but carrying on with using intials where required. It takes up less ink, too!).

JS suggested that my Big Teddy Bears would be about the right size for what he was looking for, and I sent him a photograph of this one. 

 He replied to the effect that was that it was absolutely spot on for size and that he was looking for a Tiger Puppet, which he called Daniel and sent me an initial picture of whom he was talking about, and lo and behold the original was not an unknown quantity.

When we lived in Canada during the 1970's and 1980's, Philippa and Clare  (not to mention Peter too) were avid followers of the  American PBS television programme “Mr. Rogers' Neighbourhood” . They never went to bed in the evening without having watched that day's adventures which involved characters such as Daniel Tiger – who lived in a clock, and was not a fierce Tiger, Grandpere and Henrietta Pussy Cat. I have to say that while I recall their voices, I did not often see the puppets, because the programmes coincided with my preparations for the family evening meal. However, that has not caused a problem, because pictures of all three characters are readily available online, and JS has been able to provide me with sufficient examples to enable me to carry on with the challenge.

While waiting for his response to my initial suggestion, I'd decided that a combination of patterns would be required – the head being based on my Tiger Golf Club Covers

 and the body using the pattern for the Big Teddy Bears.

When JS's answer came in, I suggested I would start the ball rolling by making a prototype, which would become his if it worked, or would be added to the ColdhamCuddlies family, if it didn't.     Regular readers of this blog know, I'm no use without a pattern with which to work and I'm not that good at altering stuff either

Copyright issues were raised (by me – I am very careful in such matters) and having been assured that JS – incidentally a puppeteer himself – has matters of this importance well in hand and well covered (the background is contained here) I got on with the prototype. 

"My 23 year old son is a professional stage actor and has been branching out into
voice acting and has recently done some work for Funamation Studios, dubbing a
Japanese Anime series into English.   We have submitted a proposal to the Fred
Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children's Media at Saint Vincent's College
in Latrobe, Pennsylvania.   

Part of their mission statement is to:
"Maximize the potential of the Fred Rogers Archive as a resource for study and new work."

Without a proper Daniel, we submitted the following video.   They would like to see more....

This is why I'm trying to 'clone' Daniel.

Not only do I love the idea of having these puppets for myself, but
I'm doing this in a effort to help my son,  and his very promising voice career."

 So, I got on with the commission - delighted and somewhat awed by the responsibility I now have - and the result was Tommy Tiger:

Once completed, it quickly became obvious that Tommy's body was quite a tight fit for my (fairly small) hand, and that JS's hand could certainly not be accommodated.  

Tommy being modelled by Clare

However, by the time this state was reached, I'd changed by plans for the DanielS.  When I'm makng Toys, I often find ways to alter them as I go along, and so had decided that the pattern used for my Hand Puppets -

was actually a better body shape for this purpose, and that it would be easily adapted to meets JS's own hand width. Accordingly, he was asked to provide his personal dimensions – both for his hand width and his arm length (from finger tip to elbow).

While making the Tiger Golf Club Covers, I have been looking out for animal print fabrics in a slightly more realistic Tiger colour than the one  being used for my current Tiger toys. The original one  - used for my Long Legged Tigers  and  the Childrens' Medium Sized Novelty Slippers 

– had ceased to be available from the Shop Clare had discovered for me while I was still in Wiltshire.

When she went back for replacements, the current orangey version was the only one available – but as it happened to match the Double Knit yarn used for the knitted metal handle covers for the Golf Club Covers, I went ahead and purchased a metre so I could meet an order that I then had in hand.

I was not happy with it, however, so when JS's commission arrived, I contacted another of my fabric suppliers (from whom I had bought the poodle faux fur used for lining all my slippers) and was thrilled to bits to find this material.

Cy Bear supervised proceedings
I promptly ordered it and upon arrival took a photograph of it and sent it off to JS.  It met with his approval, and I was then thrilled to receive the suggestion that he'd like DanielS (his version of Tommy) to be made in the lighter colour, and if possible could I then make Grandpere using the more orange shaded background of the new fabric. That did not seem to be beyond my capabilities, but  not wanting to run before I walked, I suggested that we wait to see how DanielS turned out before we committed ourselves any further.

So, I'll now leave the rest of the Smith Puppet saga until next time. I'll try not to keep you in suspense for too long!

All the best for this evening – and thanks for your patience.

Coldham Cuddlies Clinic

Friday, 14 November 2014

Baby Koalas have a Makeover

Good afternoon everyone!  Cy Bear calling in, with an update from the COLDHAMCUDDLIES shop  ( ).

It's been a couple of weeks since Isobel was last on here, and the time has gone by so fast that she's not been able to do all she wanted to do here.  However, with a Craft Show on the horizon - this Sunday morning (November 16) at St. Barnabas Cathedral, Nottingham (taking place between 0900-1330) - she's managed to get some replacement Baby Koalas made - which also now look more like our other current Coldham Koalas -   be they Big Koalas, Giant versions or Mens Slippers,   versions
 This is the last of our original colour Baby Koalas still looking for a new home

Our new ones look like this:

They will be relisted later today, so the original Brown and White fellow will not be visible in our shop once these guys get put on.  We're hoping he will find a new home on Sunday!  He and his predecessors often do get new homes when they appear at Craft Shows.

Just because Isobel is incapable of making any of us look EXACTLY the same, even though she uses the same "ingredients" for each specimen, here are the  four new recruits to the COLDHAMCUDDLIES world, taken from left to right in the preceding picture:

They do all have two eyes, despite the way they look in these snap-shots!  We're still trying to find the best places in our new abode where we can take good photographs!

Koalas have not been the only things that have kept Isobel's fingers sewing since we last posted.
Instead of typing posts here - she's made two new Arm/Hand Puppets (in the form of Tigers).  We promises to tell everyone about them as soon as she is able - after the Craft Sale on Sunday is a possible starting point!  This one is made using the same fabric as used for our Tiger Head Golf Club Covers   whereas the other Tiger Puppet has been made with a tiger print fabric which results in a Tiger with a Siberian Tiger look!

Tommy Tiger is the prototype Puppet for a series of three, maybe four others, that Isobel has been asked to try and produce.  One has been completed, posted and safely arrived at this destination.  We'll be telling you all about him too.  The order for the second one is awaiting payment, and the other definite one is still being discussed.  The fourth one is still not a certainty!

Also, for the Sunday Craft Fair, Isobel found she was very short of Baby Bunny Rabbits.  So, since last week-end, she's cut out, sewn up and now is stuffing and putting on the facial features to 8 more Fleece versions:  two each of Pink, Blue, Purple and Brown, each with White Chests.  

Think this explains the lack of action here!  Hope so, anyway:  will be back soon, I hope.  All the best everyone - it's nice to be back here again once more.

Your Friend, Cy Bear
Coldham Cuddlies Clinic