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