Sunday, 26 April 2015

The Cat Puppet Saga - Part 3

Well, yet another week has flown past, and here I am again - Cy Bear - to give you the final installment in the Cat Puppet Saga.  We have yet to hear whether she (for it is indeed a she-Puppet) has arrived safely in Tulsa, but it took about  10 days for the last package we sent to America to reach it's destination, and thus, we hope we'll know sometime this week that the journey has been safely accomplished.

However, since last week's post was all about the Prototype that was made to see if the concept actually worked, we thought you'd like to see the finished version - so here she is:

The human hand manipulating this Cat Puppet is another fellow resident of ours - a lady, who is blessed with long fingers and a wider hand than Isobel has, and found her easy to work.  (Which means that if  MrJS from Tulsa wants another person to help him, either his son or daughter will probably have little difficulty in stepping into the role.)

The fabric this Puppet is made with was specifically chosen by MrJS after he was introduced to our Mohair fabric supplier, Mohair Bear Supplies Limited - who are based in Telford, Staffordshire, England,, UK.  (We were very lucky to be able to use it, because when first chosen we were informed that it was "out of stock".)  However, there was just enough when Isobel contacted Mohair Bear Supplies Limited for our requirements. I gather that she fits the bill exactly and her arrival in Tulsa is awaited eagerly.  (The Puppet on which this Cat is based was well known for not being the happiest individual, and Isobel tried very hard to replicate her facial expression from the photographs that were sent to her.)

This shows the Cat Puppet in a sideways on, semi-prone position.  As the front paws are unstuffed, Isobel had to arrange them so she appears to be leaning on her elbows, but the back legs and tail are able to stay where they should be.

This angle gives her face a rather sweet and forlorn look I feel.  

And I'll finish off this final piece about our Cat Puppets (until Isobel is asked to make another one!)   This shows the two completed Puppets - using this model and both made from the same pattern, despite the apparent difference in size.  What makes the difference, is the thickness of each fabric.  The Sad Puppet on the left is made from a Faux Fur fabric - while the Cheerful Chappy on the left is made with a Plush material.  It all depends on the thickness of the pile utilised for each project.

At the moment, and because we've not yet listed the prototype in our Shop, if another one is made, probably it will be like  our original suggestion.  But..... in this toy making business, it would seem, one can never tell.  We remain at the service of our potential customers.

Good bye for this week. By the way, Isobel has added another skill to her toy-making abilities by finally managing to alter a pattern from the diagram she finds in her pattern books.  The result took two evenings to achieve, and was accompanied by some not very ladylike expressions of frustration (from what I  could hear from my perch in the bedroom), and I hope to be able to show you a picture of the latest addition to  our Shop ( sometime soon. 

Until next time - your Friend, Cy Bear.

Coldham Cuddlies Clinic

Sunday, 19 April 2015

The Cat Puppet Saga - Second installment.

Greetings Everybody:

Cy Bear back again, as promised last time around - this time to tell you that, indeed, the Cat Puppet we were asked to do using the alternative Cat pattern did indeed prove possible.

Isobel set about cutting out the pattern using a similar fabric to the one used for the Ginger Sitting Cat in our previous post, and then did a lining.  Whilst having a lined  puppet might seem a little over the top, Isobel likes to do it because so often the canvas backings which are used in plush fabrics can be a bit scratchy.  So if the operator has his/her hands inside for too long, she feels it's very uncomfortable for a puppeteer to cope with.  Here's the prototype before it's stuffed.

Here, you see it  - from the other side,

And now on his back - with the Coldham Cuddlies label discreetly sewn  in place and before Isobel attached the felt pads to all the legs.  The back legs, tail, and head/neck will be stuffed, leaving the tail end open for the operator's hand to be inserted, and the front legs are left "as is", so that they can be manipulated by the puppeteer as required.

Isobel then went in search of one of her fellow residents to "borrow" his hand to demonstrate that a man's hand could fit in comfortably so that MrJS could rest easy on that score.  The puppet still needed to have his ears attached, as well as the pads for the back legs.  These deliberately had no pads on the back legs, because the stuffing of each was the next step.  

Normally, one would do the stuffing of such appendages AFTER the pads had been sewn on. However, as this project is a Puppet, Isobel decided to close the leg on the inside of the body, and stuff the legs from the feet upwards - and than attach the felt pads.  (That way, the stuffing can be kept in place while the operator moves the Toy around).

In the case of the tail, she did the thing - retaining the integrity of the inside of the puppet - and filled in the tail by stuffing it from its tip and then sewing the seam up with a ladder stitch.  The same thing happened in the case of the head - before the ears were attached.  (A cardboard tube, covered with calico fabric was inserted into the neck before that cavity was closed.  Then the head was stuffed, with the polyester fibre fill being carefully arranged around the tube so that it was held in place while the head gets moved around by the Puppeteer)

This is a better view of the almost completed puppet, waiting to have legs and tail filled in.

The rear view (seen here) with the required components in place and ready to be deployed as a Puppet.  

In this prototype's case, though Isobel discovered at this point that she'd made a mistake when cutting out the puppet, and on one side the fur pile is going in the opposite direction to the other!  It's not noticeable unless one knows about it, but if  - or when - it is posted to our Etsy shop (, it will not be offered at the full price a properly constructed Activity Toy would be.   While it won't affect the mobility of the puppet, the "look" will not be to the standard to which COLDHAMCUDDLIES aspires. 

Here is the finished Puppet, just waiting to have some whiskers added.  I can tell you, it's very difficult to take a photograph of a hand puppet - without the operator's hand inside it.  But, Isobel did her best here.

Lo and behold - the prototype Cat Puppet ready to be operated by whomever wants to do so! Having proved that the original Cat pattern can be converted, Isobel set out to make MrJS's version of his Cat Puppet - which has been completed satisfactorily, and I'll be telling you all about her, next time around.  (She's been packed up and is currently en route to Tulsa).

In the meantime, have a good week everybody.  It's turned mighty cold, and a bit threateningly grey this afternoon, after a week of lovely sunshine.  All the flowers are coming out in the garden which surrounds where we now live and if I look out of the windows in the flat, there are some lovely sights to be seen.  Hope you all have equally nice views.

Your friend, Cy Bear.

Coldham Cuddlies Clinic

Sunday, 12 April 2015

The Cat Puppet Saga

Hello again Everyone!

Cy Bear back again and hope you are all well and enjoying the kind of weather that you all like at this time of the year, wherever you are in the world.  It's been beautifully sunny and warm for early Springtime in the UK,but today, we're back to cold, windy and almost wintry conditions.  Fortunately I don't have to worry - sitting as I do on Isobel's bed. (It can be interesting to see what she's going to get dressed in when she leaves the flat each day - to do whatever it is that she does - when she's not making us Cuddlies in one form or another.)

Today, I'm here to tell you about what we're involved in making at this moment - Cat Puppets, destined for Tulsa, Oklahoma, U.S.A. to join my friends the Tiger Puppets who left us before Christmas last year.  MrJS, our Puppeteer Customer, has a very specific Puppet he wants to have in his collection, and Isobel is keen to see how she can help him achieve the ambition.  Originally, when the discussions started, she found pictures of two cat patterns we had in our Library which are these:

These were originally scanned (whatever that is...) and were taken from two different books.  The one on the left comes from a book Isobel has had in her Toy Library since the 1970's, when she found it in a second-hand bookshop just after she had decided to try to make toys as a business in 1971.  (That attempt did not work, because she was a very new Mum, and finding looking after a baby, a house and a husband a lot of work to do, after being a Secretary all her life previously).  However, she kept the book and used it, together with another one by the same author, to make Cuddlies for Philippa, Clare, and their cousins - and baby friends who came along from  the mid- 1970's onwards - until she opened in 2010, and we find ourselves where we are - HERE!

The Cat (Sitting Cat) on the right (the pattern for which is in a more recent book, given by Clare to her Mother a couple of years ago, though it was first published in the mid-1980's) was chosen by one of Isobel's Etsy Team Mates before Christmas 2014 to be made for her Grandmother - and we now have a a similar Toy  in our Shop looking like this (the white markings are a little different from the original Toy):


When Isobel and MrJS began discussing his specific requirements, they decided to see what might happen if only the head of the Sitting Cat was used.  It would then be sewn on to one of the bodies we made for MrJS to use for his own projects - where he'd had special heads made for him and needed bodies to make them proper puppets.  (He has now attached these heads to the bodies himself - and we'll be showing you them in future posts, I promise)

So, Isobel set off and created a bigger head than the one for Harry the Cat (which was the name our Etsy customer friend wanted to call the Cat she purchased), and we ended up with a prototype Black Cat Puppet, which can now be found in our shop and looks like this:

Black & White Cat  Made to Measure Arm Puppet Activity Toy Plush Fabric Head  Fleece Body Calico Lined  Party Activity Toy

Whilst Isobel had been experimenting, she introduced MrJS to our mohair fabric supplier (an introduction via the internet, because our supplier, Mohair Bear Supplies Limited (MBS), is based in Telford, Shropshire, England, UK) because he also was looking for a different fabric for the final Tiger Puppet he wants Isobel to make him - for which he has already sent us a specific Head Pattern, and which we will be doing for him shortly - once other commissions we have in hand are completed. 

While he was looking through the online shop, MrJS came across a fabric which he really wanted for his Cat Puppet, rather than the Plush fabric we have ourselves and  shown in the photograph above.  However, the Shop site indicated that the fabric was then out of stock for the Cat fabric he desperately wanted, but could meet the one he selected as being closest to his ideal, for the Tiger.
Isobel immediately contacted the shop with this response to see if the Cat Fabric was likely to be re-ordered, and how long it would take for it arrive, before ordering the Tiger choice, because that Puppet was further down the production schedule (while MrJS carried on fitting his Heads to his Bodies in his Puppet Theatre in Tulsa).  The response was that it was unlikely to be reordered, but that there was a small piece left - and not offered, because they did not think there was sufficient for a whole Teddy Bear.  (The Lady Owner of the Shop is a well-known UK Teddy Bear maker, but their fabrics can be used for any other Toys or projects.  Isobel loves dealing with them, because nothing is ever too much trouble).   Isobel quickly estimated that the amount of fabric available would be just enough to make a head and one body piece (which could be the back of the proposed Cat),  The front could be made up in the same White Plush fabric as in our photograph.  In any case, because the Cat Puppet  - when completed - would be dressed up,  the different fabrics would not be a major problem.

MrJS approved of that idea, so the purchase went through once Isobel had received the payment from Tulsa.  In the interim, MrJS spent time reviewing the now lengthy correspondence between Isobel and himself, and came across the first photograph in today's blog and wrote asking whether it would be feasible for the Standing Cat to be made with its head, back legs and tail stuffed, but the body and front feet left empty - so he could put his hand in the resulting void and operate the Puppet as a Hand, rather than Arm, Puppet.  

Isobel has never made this pattern, because the original called for wire to be placed in the legs (for stiffening) and then surrounded by stuffing.  (Even in the days before Health & Safety became the priority it now is, she did not like  the idea of wire in a Child's Toy).  However, the idea that it could be a Hand Puppet was appealing.  So, she agreed to make a Prototype Cat Hand Puppet to see if it was feasible.
The Black Cat - as an Arm Puppet
Whether or not it is will have to wait until next time - because this has gone on long enough today.  So, until the next post,  here's hoping you all have a great week and that all your plans are achieved.
Good Night and Good Bye - your Friend, Cy Bear.
Coldham Cuddlies Clinic

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Bits and Pieces - A Cuddly has a Makeover and Welcome to a New One.

Greetings to one and all - Hope everyone is having/has had a Very Happy Easter.
Cy Bear is having a rest this week - and it's not because he's had too much chocolate.   It's a case of being easier for me to explain what has happened in these cases this week, than asking Cy Bear to do it - besides, he must not get the idea that he's the only one involved with this blog!  
As the title implies, we have a new Cuddly in our Family - a Blue Fleece Rabbit Toy, similar in shape and size to all the other Fleece Rabbits - but looking like this.

However, our original Blue Fleece Rabbit 
is made with the same fabric as many of our Blue Baby Rabbits (shown below) so my supply was running low. 


Thus when I went on line  to my fabric supplier for these fleeces, I found they had a different, darker blue example, and decided to go with it for a different Cuddly result.  After all, the Babies look good in the pastel shades - as proved by the number of times they get selected for Treasuries - and, with a big stretch of imagination - they COULD grow into big Blue Bunnies in later life! 

Rabbit Toy Blue Fleece Bunny White Fleece Chested Boy or Girl Gift Shower Present Easter Special Times Basket Filler
Etsy Listing #228531836

This new Rabbit was listed in our Shop on Etsy earlier this week, and here are a couple of other shots of him from different angles to give you an idea of his dimensions.

Now to move to the other Cuddly who received attention this week.  Our Light Brown Faux Fur Teddy Bears have proved popular Forever Friends for folks all over the US and UK.  I was delighted therefore to be contacted about the latest being shown in our Shop  by MsAB - who is a long-time COLDHAMCUDDLIES Friend.   (She is both a customer - she was our very First in 2011, and has adopted two other Coldham Teddies since - one of whom now resides with her Mother.  But she was also one of the first Followers of this blog).  A new family member has recently made their arrival into the World, and MsAB was keen to see if she could adopt the one on the right of this picture.

                                      Collectable Toy Furry Teddy Bear Light Brown Flecked Plush Cuddly   
She said she preferred the look of him from his companion, but alas, I was unable to meet her request, because that particular Cuddly was adopted in December 2014 and is called Arthur and living very happily with his Forever Friend (who bought him as a 50th Birthday Present to herselfin the Nottingham environs of the U.K.   So I  offered  to change Left Hand Bear's facial features, to see if I could make him look more like his fortunate friend.


The operation took place mid-week, and involved me cutting out the black double knitting yarn used to embroider Right Bear's nose and mouth.  If you look closely, his nose is squarer and his mouth looks a little grim.  Having removed the original sewing, I made his nose look more like Left Bear, and tried to get his mouth to look a bit happier.  (Remember, I find it difficult, if not impossible to absolutely replicate a look even when restoring Bears and other Toys when they become COLDHAMCUDDLIES Patients).  However, this is what Right Bear looks like now - after his makeover.

While I was doing the makeover, MsAB decided to go and have a look-see at my blog - which apparently she'd not visited for some time.  There she found the story of Hairy Bears No. 10 and 11, and read that No.10 (in our posts of 17th and 22nd February 2015) had been made with a slightly larger head than our Teddies are usually given. She wrote back asking if it would be possible for me to make a Custom Bear for her, using the Light Brown Faux Fur Arthur and his Companion are made with, but with a big head.  Apparently there is no hurry for him to reach Massachusetts, because the new arrival and MsAB are not expecting to see each other for some time.  So, a Custom Order is about to be raised for Arthur2, but with a happy face and a bigger head.

Thought this story might make interesting reading for our Followers - because it illustrates that it is possible for any Cuddly in the Shop ( to be changed if anyone would like to specify their wishes.

Right - that's it for this week:  am deep in the creation of a new Cat Puppet prototype, to prove that a pattern for a standing Cat Toy can be turned into a Hand Puppet.  So far it is going to plan - the outer part is readyNow I'm seeing if I can construct a lining - because the canvas through which the plush pile is fixed can be a bit "scratchy" and all previous Tulsa based Puppets and their Bodies have been lined.  I'm hoping that this will be accomplished later today, so that pictures showing the new Activity Toy can be emailed to Tulsa (how on earth did we manage before the internet, I wonder?).  If approved by JS, my friendly Tulsa-based Puppeteer, I will go ahead and make his Cat Puppet - in a specially chosen fabric, which I was not prepared to use until we were both sure the idea would work.

Either Cy Bear or I will report on progress next time.  In the interim, hope you all have a good week, as Spring shows the first signs of arriving here in the UK.  Winter seems to have been going on an awful long time this year.

Coldham Cuddlies Clinic