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.