Tuesday, 4 March 2014

An old friend returns - for refreshment therapy

Last week, following a meeting with his Forever Friend, Little Red Ted returned briefly to the Stuffed Animal Restoration Clinic (Etsy Listing 79124185) because his ears were causing concern to the whole family.

Little Red Ted is a Very Important Person in the Coldham Cuddlies story.  He is the reason for the creation of the Stuffed Animal Restoration Clinic.  His Forever Friend had seen Cy Bear when he was just made (well before Cy Bear became a co-author of this blog) and asked me if I could make a Red Bear for her grand daughter.  She had always had a Red Bear  and wanted one for her grand daughter to enjoy as well.   To be quite honest, I had never heard of a Red Bear before - but one always tries to meet one's customers' requirements, doesn't one.  So I set about trying to find some suitable fabric with which to undertake the task.

I was equally ignorant of the fact that one could get Red Mohair fabric for Bears.  Turner Bear, who is made with Red Mohair, came to the Clinic well after the treatments had become a feature of Coldham Cuddlies' life and I was by then familiar with what different colours of mohair fabric (as well as plush materials) were available for this purpose. My sewing skills have also improved over the months as well!

Thus I only looked for red plush fabrics for Little Red Ted (think I'll refer him to as LRT for the rest of this post).  It was only when I took the various swatches  I had found to LRT's Forever Friend that I was first introduced to LRT himself.  Now he was  then nearly 80 years' old and in a bit of a bad way.  He had clothes covering several patches that had been applied over the years but the overall Bear shape was still there - and he had obviously been recently given some chamois leather paw pads.  (He had been a "military bear" in his younger life, and wherever his Forever Friend had travelled with her husband and family, he had gone too.  He'd also had some "conclusions" with various family dogs over the years.)

Until that moment I hadn't even contemplated becoming a Bear Restorer, but felt I had  to make him look more like a proud Bear than he then did.  His Forever Friend bravely consented to that happening, chose the fabric she wanted for her grand daughter's Bear, as well as LRT - and I set off home, feeling slightly daunted at my daring idea.  (Their home is only a couple of houses away from The Hospital of St. John).

Being naturally cautious (a.k.a. "scared stiff"!), I decided to make the grand daughter's Bear first.  Then I did Little Red Ted and his treatment was duly completed.  Quite literally, the modus operandi I now follow for all Stuffed Animal restorations in the Clinic was honed with Little Red Ted.  I made a template from his shape, cut the new coat out with a quarter inch seam all round, and sewed those bits of LRT that were worth saving  to the matching pieces.  Satisfied with the process so far, I  put back his eyes (they hadn't suffered the fate that so many of my Bear Patients since have done!) and added his newish chamois leather paw pads, which I had carefully cleaned up!

Before I completed both the Red Teds, though, I had purchased a digital camera and had taken photographs of all the stages involved in LRT's rejuvenation, so that when he returned to his Forever Friend's home, the two of them looked like this

That was over two years' ago.  (Big Red Ted was intended as a Christmas Present).  As you will see from this photograph, his ears were rather large when compared with the rest of him, and over the months, they had definitely become a bit of a sore point for everyone in Forever Friend's family, who had known him in his previous incarnation.

Thus, after the January meeting of the Ladies Section of the Royal British Legion - at which I gave a talk on Stuffed Animal Restoration - LRT's Forever Friend evidently decided to ask if I could do something about them.  Looking at them, after the distance in time, he did look like a Bear with ears like the wonderful Dumbo - didn't he.  So, naturally, I agreed and he spent a night with me.

All that was involved was for me to remove his ears - I was somewhat ashamed of how his ears had been fixed on! - so that he looked like this for a short while.

The open seams of both ears, where they are attached to Bears' head were cut - between a quarter and a half inch.  Then both were sewn back on to his head - at a different angle from where they had been before so that he now looks like this - not that different, but more firmly attached and at a different point on his head:

Before he was returned to his Forever Home, LRT was introduced to Little Mohair Bear, or Little Ed Ted - who was made directly from LRT'S template.  The difference in size and shape is entirely attributable to the difference in fabrics involved.  The red plush of LRT is a lot thicker than the pile on the mohair used for Little Ed (the original fabric was used to restore Ed Ted - my first big Bear Patient, who is now living in his Forever Home in Sequals, Italy).  Also, plush fabrics have a lot more "give", so one can make a rounder toy when stuffing them, than when using mohair.

 So far, Little Ed is the only little Bear that I've made, but there is a stash of mohair fabric - left over from the treatments of Bears since LRT's initial restoration - which will eventually join the Coldham Cuddlies family.

Now, Little Ed Ted is back in his den - waiting for his Forever Home and LRT has been restored to his Forever Friend's arms with a very much more acceptable look than heretofore.

Another satisfactory end to a Coldham Cuddlies Patient treatment.

Until next time!  All the very best to my wonderful Followers.  Dare I say it - but Spring looks like it's on the way!