Thursday, 30 January 2014

Well - You can't win them all! The Patient that "escaped"!

Good evening everybody.

 I'm pleased to be back, ready to tell you about our former Patient in the Stuffed Animal Restoration Clinic (Etsy Listing # 79124185) - who came in ready for a full treatment, and then returned home without even a stitch being sewn!

Beaugey Bear (that's how I think his name is spelled - his Forever Friend was somewhat unsure herself when asked to clarify!) arrived in time to be the centre piece for a presentation I recently made to the Heytesbury Branch of the Royal British Legion Women's Section.  (The subject was - you guessed it - Restoring Teddy Bears )   He had also been staying with us while his ear had been posted to my mohair bear  fabric supplier in Telford, Shropshire so we could match his fur and provide him with a whole new coat - as my initial inspection had indicated this is what he would require.

While waiting for this ear to come back, he witnessed the departure of our latest Koala - about which Cy Bear posted last week - and also participated in Koala's Farewell ceremony.

This picture was actually taken before his ear was sent off for matching to Mohair Bear Making Supplies Ltd,  the supplier mentioned earlier, and you can see Beaugey's original colour quite clearly.  When matching takes place, the fabric supplier matches the colour of the canvas to which the mohair pile is attached and it shows how it can change as Bears are played with and loved to bits during their lives.

However, as the first paragraph implies, the treatment did not take place - because Beaugey is destined to return to the den in which he has lived for the past forty-something years, and his Forever Friend - after thinking about my estimate for the treatment - decided that it was not worth putting him through the trauma of the treatment.  She would not do anything with him herself but wrap him up once more;  and she has no family or offspring who might be interested in giving him a home.  Thus, we both decided it was kinder to Beaguey for him to get his ear sewed back on again, and for him to return home to hibernate once more.

Before taking him home yesterday, though, I took some photographs of his current condition, and with the permission of Beaguey's Forever Friend, I thought I'd show them to you - and suggest how he could have been treated - because there was more than one way this could have been done.  Both would have probably cost much the same, but one would have been much more satisfactory than the other.

Beaugey's most obvious need was for a new left arm.  There was precious little of the original mohair fabric with which to work, which was the starting point for my suggestion that he needed a complete new coat - because the arm would have looked very out of place had I replaced it with what mohair supplies I had in stock - some of which were near matches, but not quite.  I also suggested that all his head and limb joints be replaced - because the current cotter pin discs were probably as rusted as the one in this picture.  Their size had undoubtedly contributed to the damage to Beaugey's arm.  The cardboard gets very hard as the years go by, and any movement eventually results in a hole appearing in the vicinity of the joint  - whether it is a leg or an arm, or indeed, a head.  The modern plastic replacements are a lot lighter, as well as having less sharp edges and they do not rust.

His legs needed to be stuffed, as they had got somewhat floppy and I suggested that his entire stuffing should be replaced.  What little I could see, and his estimated age,  led me to believe that Beaugey's insides were a mixture of kapok covering wood chips for his body and head, while his arms would probably have kapok alone.  That material,  after some years, tends to collapse and leave the limbs lookinglike  Beaugey's legs.  His pads were also a bit shabby and he would have been given some smart glove quality leather replacments once the stuffing had been added.

 (Those of you who have followed this blog since it's inception in March 2011 will know that I have some particular  bete-noires when it comes to stuffing materials used in Toys that I have had the privilege to restore over the months.  The worst are polystyrene balls, closely followed by wood chippings, and then kapok.  All were used at different times since Teddy Bears were first invented and some could be said to be dangerous - because of their inflammability.  Whereas, the polyester fibrefill that I now use has been tested to glory and is compliant with all international safety standards.)

His sweater had definitely seen better days - and, is in fact, part of the Forever Friend's late Father's sock which had been cut up so that Beaugey's chest wound would not be exposed.

Beaugey's Forever Friend said this splendid piece of patching was in fact the handiwork of her father, who seems to have been a dab hand with the needle!  But this too was added reason for my suggestion of the total coat replacement.  As you may recall - it's sometime since I undertook a complete replacement therapy on a Bear (the local supply of Bears for restoration is beginning to run out!) - where possible I never discard the original pieces, however damaged they are. This piece of body would have been difficult  to preserve, as there was not much left that wasn't patched.  Normally, once the pieces have had their warm water bath and dried out, I always attach the useable bits - each one to its equivalent piece on the replacement fabric - and each piece is cut with an extra quarter  inch seam.  The result is that when completed, the New Look Toy is usually a little bigger than when he started - because the original pieces have taken up their allocated space on each section of the new body.  The original Toy is still there (but out of sight).

These three photographs of Beaugey's head and face from different angles shows how his mohair pile had worn away, there's been some attempt to darn or patch him as the years have passed (Dad's sewing skills again to the fore!), but all in all the whole head would have needed to be replaced, as well as his body.  I would have retained his button eyes, because they still gleam with glee and with the aid of this photograph, I should have been able to make a stab at making his final look similar to the determined look he currently carries.

Finally, the ears.  Because they are rather smaller than the rest of the body, replacing them in the way I do the body - by attaching them to the new fabric would make the final result somewhat bulky, so I usually discard the original ears, once I have made a cardboard template from the existing appendage.  But, given the state of the one sent away to be matched (see below) it would have been difficult really to tack them to the new fabric had I ever gone that route.

I did mention earlier in this post, that there were two ways in which Beaugey could have been treated.  The replacement option I have detailed.  But the alternative was to remove all the stuffing and rusty cotter pin limb discs, giving him the usual warm water bath and drying him out - all in one piece, then darning all the holes with a matching yarn.  This might have been as difficult to achieve as getting an exact match with half a metre of mohair fabric (currently priced at a minimum of £72.50/metre + postage and packaging).  The time and effort of doing the second option would probably have taken about the same time (if one takes into account the time lapse between the order being placed and the fabric being delivered).  So the cost of the second option would probably have been about £50-£60.00 - whereas, the whole coat replacement option would have been about £60-£80.00, based on previous treatments offered in the Clinic.

Anyway, Beaugey didn't have to face either option in the event - and this is him the night before he went home to his den, with his well-travelled ear back in place.

Now, having reported on this latest event in the world of Coldham Cuddlies, it's back to the Wolf project.  MsKN's selected eyes have arrived safely, just in time for me to put the Yellow eyes into Mrs Buchanan Wolf.  Unexpectedly, a selection of Blue Eyes were also part of the consignment.  Although I had already made Mr. Buchanan Wolf's head including a pair of blue eyes already in stock, following a conversation this afternoon via email, it has been decided that the head will be taken to bits and the current blue eyes replaced with MsKN's choice.  That's the next job - after my usual battle with leather boots for Mr. Wolf!

See you all soon.  Isobel