Sunday, 28 May 2017

Replacement Update - and the Start of a New Challenge

Greetings to Everyone - good to be with you again.

Cy Bear is getting a rest this week - because he's not actually doing the replacements (obviously) and he hasn't realised that we're facing a bit of a challenge which, hopefully, will result in another new COLDHAMCUDDLIES Toy joining our Family of Toys, Slippers and Golf Club Covers soon.

The replacement Hairy Bear is coming along.  However, I'd forgotten just how furry the faux fur fabric is that I use for these Teddy Bears of ours.  It's fine when I've cut out the arms, legs, body, head and ears and sewn them separately, but when it comes to putting them all together, there's another dimension with this particular toy that isn't usual with most of my other efforts!  There's just so MUCH plush involved!

Here's a picture of the limbs and ears ready to be placed on the body:

Do believe that you can see what I'm talking about!  On the left of the picture are the legs, and on the right are the arms.  In between are the ears, which have been lined with the same fabric (brown suedette type material) I've used for the paw pads  - and all of them illustrate the "furriness" involved!!   The limbs have holes at the top of each leg and arm - where the discs will be fitted through which will enable them to be moved when they become a completed COLDHAMCUDDLIES Toy.  (On the right you can just see a disc in one of the arms - but I think I'm going to have to use the biggest disc I have in stock for this project, simply because the pole in the "normal" disc for my Bears, is just too short to cope with all the furry plush around).

After a bit of a struggle (the fingers are not as agile as they once were these days) putting the head on to the body was eventually achieved.  Now, the furry problems become front and centre, because it's difficult to ensure that the arms and legs are fitted in the right place.  Most of the other toys, one can do some "thread-marking" to aid the Toy Maker.   Sewers among you will understand that with all this fur around, even with a different bright colour, finding the exact spot becomes almost academic! Using a long knitting needle, I've aligned them (I think - and profoundly hope!)  and got to that stage at the moment.  It was quite late last evening when I was trying to achieve the first limb attachments, so I decided to break off proceedings and leave it until today.

Here is the current bag of polyester fibre I'm using for the current COLDHAMCUDDLIES replacements.  I get this essential toy filling from a craft supplier firm based in central Manchester, which has been in business for over a hundred years.  Getting two bags of 1.5 kgs (3.3 lbs) at a time, I manage to save myself (and my customers!) quite a lot in terms of cost - when compared with what one can pay when purchasing polyester stuffing from one's local department store or craft supplier, where the best one can do is get a bag with about 400g (about a quarter of a pound) in it!

The need for this replacement project to move forwards was given some urgency late last week when a Custom Request was received for an Arm Puppet which could resemble an old Friend of the COLDHAMCUDDLIES - which, in turn, was a replica puppet request from a Puppeteer based in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  Early in 2015,  I made several Tiger Puppets for MrJS, based in Tulsa at the time, and he also asked me to make a Cat Puppet, which eventually turned out like this:

The fabric that this Cat Puppet is made from was a piece of Mohair material  I was able to obtain from my specialist Mohair supplier which was the nearest match I could find for MrJS at the time. It was out of stock when I first approached Mohair Bear Supplies in Telford, Staffordshire, but they were able to find a roll end, which was big enough for me to make this puppet, and still have a small bit left over.  That accompanied the finished toy when the project was completed, so is no longer part of my existing mohair stash.  If memory serves, this Puppet then had an adventurous journey to Tulsa.  For reasons best known to United States Postal Services, while the package did indeed initially arrive in Tulsa (in the correct journey time), for some reason it got "diverted" to Chicago, returned to Tulsa, and then found it's way out to the nearest Post Office to MrJS's home (which has a Post Box number as an address) - and arrived some 5-6 weeks after posting!  (The normal journey time for a Toy travelling to that same address previously had been between 10-14 days!  Since that episode, ALL COLDHAMCUDDLIES Toys now travel International Tracked and Signed For  - despite the higher cost.  That at least ensures I know exactly where they are at while they are en route).

Now as this particular fabric is no longer available to me - and it was April 2015 when I was making those Puppets for MrJS -  the thought has just occurred that I might get in touch with Mohair Bear Supplies to see if they've got anything in stock NOW that might resemble the Tulsa Cat Puppet, so that I can make a better resemblance to the original Puppet - one Henrietta Pussy Cat of "Mr Roger's Neighbourhood" fame.  (MsSD, my latest customer, is particularly attached to Henrietta and is very keen to get as near a likeness as possible, and I'm determined to do my best in that regard).  For those of you Readers who don't know who Henrietta Pussy Cat is - she, and the Tigers, were part of that wonderful American Children's programme - which was a daily bedtime  favourite of my two daughters when we lived in Canada between 1975 and 1987.  You can find out a lot more about the series, and it's characters by using that well known tool - "Google"!

(Mr.JS was then engaged in a special project in 2015 when he found out about the COLDHAMCUDDLIES, and challenged me to try to make the Puppets for him.  It so happens that thanks to Facebook, contact has recently been re-established between MrJS and myself - purely on a friendly basis now, and we exchange information about our respective recently arrived grandchildren - an illustration  of the good wonders of modern technology!  The project we both worked on is currently "on hold" - as MrJS had serious surgery in 2016, from which he is still recovering. I've told him about this new Cat Puppet challenge, and he too is looking forward to seeing the result of my efforts!  No pressure then!)

If any Readers are interested - and have the time - how our version of the Tulsa Cat Puppet came to be made was described in a series of posts here  between 12.04.15 and 24.05.15. (You can find them by clicking on the relevant Year Link on the right side of this blog - I think!).

Provisionally, (I've yet to contact MsSD about my "brain wave" regarding the fabric match) the new Puppet is being based on our current Black and White Plush Cat - seen here

Cat Arm Puppet Cat Activity Toy Cat Hand Puppet Black White Cat Toy Made to Measure Toy Toy for All Ages Activity Play Toy Present for Kids.
Black and White Plush Cat Puppet -

When creating the Custom Order, which was only finalised yesterday evening, I hadn't thought about contacting Mohair Bear Supplies to see if they might now have more appropriate fabric for meeting MsSD's requirements, so in the absence of that information, and if there isn't a better choice, I'm going to make the main head and body using the same Dark Grey Plush I used for these Rabbit Head Novelty Slippers:

Grey Plush Rabbit Novelty Slippers -

The facial features (shown in the Black Cat Puppet picture here in white plush) are going to be made using the Light Grey Plush Fabric I used to make the Chests of my Hedgehog Toys - looking like this:

Daddy Hedgehog -

The other change that will be made to the new Cat Puppet will be that the eyes will be a Round Green Eye, rather than the Yellow ones used in the Black and White Cat Puppet on which the whole new project will be based. 

So with my work planned for a few weeks hence, either Cy Bear or I will update you on the progress of both the projects described here this week.  I'll sign off for now - wishing you all the best for the upcoming week.


Sunday, 21 May 2017

Penguin Cuddlies - Replacements with a New Look - and thus a New Cuddly Model.

Good to be back with you once again, Everyone.

Cy Bear dropping by with some speedy news from the COLDHAMCUDDLIES' World - because today happens to coincide with one of the EtsyFRU Team's HEART ATTACK events, and Isobel has spent a large part of her time this week preparing quite a few of our CUDDLIES to be listed in the special Thread.

Several of our Toys were due to be re-listed - as happens every 3 months if one is part of the World - and as it costs the same to re-list as it does to renew (but the former appears in the on-line Shop as a "brand new" listing), Isobel decided to go the re-listing route this time around.  

Three have already been posted on the HEART ATTACK site - both in our Shop, and on the HEART ATTACK site:

Baby Black Bunny Rabbit Stuffed Black and White Toy Cool Tots Toy Shower Basket Gift Toy for Mobile Toy for Boy Gift for Girl Toddler Gift

Tan Coyote Toy Brown Stuffed Toy Collectible Adult Toy Coyote Toy for Kids Boy or Girl Toy Adult Companion Toy Cuddly Coyote Toy Coyote Gift
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Once we've told you about our Penguins with their New Look, she'll be going back to the Team site, to carry on re-listing (and publicising the fact throughout the Etsy team world(s) - as well as on Facebook, and this time  - as a first - on Pinterest and something called Tumblr as well). As Isobel only operates with a laptop (smartphones are a technological development too far for her at the moment - given that she rarely even uses a mobile, unless absolutely forced to) the Tumblr activity is one she will not be participating in, although she's always open to correction.  It is her understanding at the moment, that Tumblr doesn't work if one doesn't have a smartphone to hand.

When Isobel hasn't been re-listing (drafting) Cuddlies for presentation in the EtsyFRU HEART ATTACK today, she has also been sewing the new version of our Penguin Toys.  Two have been done - and if they look a little reminiscent of our Puffin Toys, you could well be correct!.  It was while she was making the Puffins recently, that Isobel decided to make some more Penguins - having only made the one to date - who looks like this:

Percy Penguin, Stuffed Toy, Black and White Cuddly, Shower Basket Item, Cool Tots Toy, Toddler Gift, Cool Tot Toy, Boy Shower Toy, Girls Toy
Penguin - Original Plush Version.

Whilst he's been much admired, Percy Penguin does look a little woolly compared with the "real thing" - or least Isobel thinks so.  Thus, when she was making the Puffins recently, and because we've got plenty of the black and white fleece fabric in stock (and it's relatively easy to replace if and when needed), she decided to cut out patterns for two more Penguins - and they now look like this.  

As you know, Isobel cannot make a Toy look EXACTLY the same at any time - let alone when different fabrics are in use.  However, she is really happy with the way these guys look, and will be listing them later today (yes, in the HEART ATTACK!).   They didn't take her long to make - both were done in 6 evenings, while listening to the radio, and/or some programmes on the TV (that DIDN'T include mentions of Elections - she's fed up to the back teeth with those already, and there's another 2.5 weeks to go yet!).

Here are Paddy and Petula Penguin - we're not sure yet which one is which - maybe some of you can let us know?

Then here are a couple of different photographs- taken from different angles for both Birds.

Sideways views.

And finally, a shot of both Fleece Penguins from the rear.

Having completed these fleecy toys, Isobel yesterday cut out and started sewing a replacement for our Hairy Bear - one of our most popular models.  This new one will actually be Hairy Bear Number Nine or Ten - Isobel has lost count. But the one showing in our Shop at the moment found a home in the middle of last year, and this is the first opportunity we've had for Isobel to actually sew his replacement.

Hairy Toy Brown Bear Faux Fur Teddy Hairy Teddy Bear Stuffed Cuddly Toy Furry Companion Collectible Toy Cuddly Toy Bear Furry Bear Mom Gift

Once he's been completed, another round of new photographs will be taken and he will be re-listed: probably as a brand new Toy, because our original Hairy Bears Etsy reference number might be making it a bit more difficult for him to be recognised - or maybe folks think he looks too fierce for them?  One can never tell, you know.   Isobel always likes making her toys with "happy faces" - but she did get asked one time (and it was indeed for one of the Hairy Bear versions) if his "look" could be a "sad one".  Naturally, she obliged - but it took quite a bit of doing not to finish up with a Grumpy Bear.

Right I've been waffling on long enough for this week.  Will be back next week, hopefully, with the new look Hairy Bear and other news.

Meanwhile, have a great week everyone!  We've had a lot of rain here in the last few days - but we've been promised lots of sunny weather for next week, so hopefully the photograph session (or sessions) will not be spoiled by unexpected showers!

Bye for now!  Your Friend, Cy Bear.

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Carrying on, carrying on: replacements, and some new looks.

Hello Everyone:

Cy Bear greeting you, in the hope that you've all had a great week-end, and are ready for the oncoming week and it's developments.

In the spirit of the replacing regimen Isobel embarked upon last week, there are some new things to show you.

As our Profile picture (sometimes referred to as an avatar, I'm told) had been in existence throughout our Social Media sites, as well as here on the blog and in our Shop ( for almost 2 years, Isobel decided the time had come to think about a replacement.

Accordingly, on Wednesday morning last week - and taking advantage of a really lovely sunny day - Isobel asked daughter Clare to take photographs of herself and me (reflecting the dual nature of our activities related to the COLDHAMCUDDLIES),  and then she took some new photos of me in Clare's garden.


The second one is currently being used for the intended purpose:  we might well move to the first one later on in the year.  (Isobel was not too keen on all of her right arm being shown - so went with the second one, apparently!)

Isobel then "borrowed" some of  GrandsonE's outside toys - and took some up-to-date photographs of me.  Until now, she'd been using pictures that she took when we lived down in Wiltshire, shortly after the COLDHAMCUDDLIES business first became operational. They were taken about 6 years ago.   Although I don't think I've changed that much, the background scenery definitely has.

While GrandsonE was quite resigned to me sitting at the top of his slide, I'm not so sure that he was quite as happy to see me taking a spot in his prized Dinosaur Car:

While this picture was being taken, GrandsonE was standing by with a very dubious expression on his face, so he was very happy to watch Clare position me among the flower boxes on the nearby patio  -

I didn't sit there for long - and the pansies were not hurt during the session!  Finally, Isobel tried me sitting on the patio table.  We don't think this one will feature very much, because I don't stand out too well - probably too much glass and a crowded background maybe.  But, if we don't experiment, we don't find out!

While all this photography was going on, we were all being "supervised" by Isobel's "Grandog" Dotty.  She's been part of the family for about 5 years now, and has become an inseparable "partner in crime" with GrandsonE.

The process of familiarisation with the new Etsy Shop format has carried on all week, and everyone seems to be getting used to the idea.  Lots of comments are being read by Isobel, but she's buckling down to getting herself around - and at the same time, the changes have coincided with a lot of re-listing being needed for many of  the existing Cuddlies.  Isobel has recently discovered how one "re-lists" our Shop contents - as opposed to "renewing" them every quarter. (It costs the same, but the newly acquired skill means that the Buyers can't see how popular (or not, as the case may be) each Toy has been - which apparently can make a difference when potential customers are browsing the scene.  Isobel may have been operating the Shop since 2010, but she's still learning new things almost very day.)  

Before completing this week's bulletin from Nottinghamshire, Isobel was thrilled to get an update about the Easter Duckling (ED) who now lives with our Friend, AndyB in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.  Apparently ED (equally shorthand for Edmonton Duckling, I think) accompanied his young friend when AndyB spent time at his "daytime home" recently:  he had tremendous fun, and ended up looking like this:

Amazing photo, isn't it?  To think a little chap like our Easter Duckling could carry a "load" like he's shown doing here - and NOT TAKE OFF himself, eh?

Hope you all have a great week - see you all again soon, I hope.

Your Friend, Cy Bear.

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Embarking on the replacement regime- Stage One

Greetings Everyone - Cy Bear back once more.

What with new layouts to cope with on the Etsy Shop front, and a steady stream of orders since Christmas, plus other activities in support of our Shop,,  Isobel has been building up a list of replacements that need to be done so that our stocks get replenished. Over the past few weeks, she's been finding a bit more time to sew, as well as attend to all the on-line social media activities required of anybody trying to operate an on line shop, and we thought we'd tell you about some of those this week.

Two of the replacements actually are not really proper replacements of the Toys - but replacing their listings in our Shop.  In an excess of activity a few weeks ago, Isobel inadvertently deleted a Fox listing and a Wolf Toy from the Shop. As the original photographs were not easily found (on a separate disk, somewhere in the flat, is what she told me!) she decided to wait for some more sunny days to arrive - and to take the photographs outside in the gardens here.  (The originals had all been taken inside the flat after they'd been made last year.  We try to take pictures outside, if we can, because we think they look nicer for visitors to see in our Shop, too).

So, after a few trials and errors, we recently re-listed our Fantasy Fox - seen here:

Fantasy Fox Toy, Fox Fantasy Toy, Yellow Fantasy Fox, Yellow Fantasy Toy, Fantasy Dressed Toy, Dressed Fantasy Fox. Yellow Fox Toy Present,

It was a bright sunny day, as you can see - and Isobel found a nice bench on which  Fantasy Fox could be perched.   

At the same time, photographs of our Grey Dressed Wolf were taken, using the same bench, but the other end of it for her new portraits.

Grey Wolf Dressed Toy, Grey Wolf in Blue Dress. Wolf Dressed Toy, Traditional Animal Toy, Dressed Wolf Toy, Furry Wolf Dressed Toy, Toy Wolf

Then a couple of week's ago, Isobel embarked on properly replacing toys in our store, by cutting out and re-creating our Puffins.  Two more were cut out and sewn (usually in the evenings, after Isobel has done her daily stints on Facebook and Etsy - and other places in between).  They were completed last Monday, and after another photography session (this time in daughter Clare's garden mid-week), our Puffins were re-listed, because inevitably they don't look exactly like our original two Birds.   They, as you may recall, are now residing on opposite coasts of the United States of America (Rhode Island - in the case of the former patient in our Stuffed Toy Animal Restoration Clinic - - and Maryville, Oregon in the case of our Dry Run Puffin).  

Here is how they now look in our Shop:

The last photo was among some Isobel later took when she arrived back in the flat on Wednesday - just in case the outside ones didn't work out.  They can always be substituted in the Shop, when Isobel decides that a "change of look" is needed.  (Or that's what is the plan, anyway!).

Work on the new Etsy Shop Manager site has continued, with Isobel spending more time on the new version being offered by Etsy.  As she gets more familiar with the layout, she is beginning to get more comfortable with it, so hopefully everything will settle down and life can once more resume a less hectic feel!!  (Believe me, as one who has to deal with Isobel when she gets worried by online developments, that's definitely a plus for this Beaver Lamb Bear!!)

Right, that's it for this week.  Not sure what, or who, is in the replacement plan for the next sortie.  I'll keep you all posted as and when that happens.  Until then, here's wishing you all a good week all round. 

Your Friend, Cy Bear