Sunday, 4 February 2018

Introducing Oscar Blue Rabbit - Mascot for a Very Important Cause

Hello there, Everyone - Cy Bear back again and fortunately - for this week at any rate - on time!

In last week's post, I alluded to Oscar Blue Rabbit and to his being a very Special Rabbit.  When the enquiry first came in from the MsKA, representing the Buyer,  in November 2017, we found out it was from a Charity based in Oxford, UK.   Isobel didn't realise the true significance of this particular Story until he was finished and almost ready to be dispatched.  So, this post is going to tell you ALL about Oscar Blue Rabbit  - and what it is hoped he will be able to do in future.

First of all - as of yesterday -  this is now Oscar Blue Rabbit's official listing in our shop ( - and  he is the official Mascot for the Charity,  OXFORD AGAINST CUTTING (OAC).  As such, he is currently a one-off - and so does not have the COLDHAMCUDDLIES label sewn anywhere on his torso.  He will not appear officially off line until next Tuesday, 6th February, when he will be launched as he is playing a prominent role in a film, specially created to be circulated to primary school teachers so that he can help OAC in their work - which is educating people about Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and how wrong and unnecessary it is.  (MsKA gave Isobel  permission to publish the listing early - so here it is!)

Tuesday, 6th February is a Very Important Day - because it is the INTERNATIONAL DAY OF ZERO INTOLERANCE for FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION (FGM) and Oxford Against Cutting has created a toolkit for primary school teachers to talk to young children about bodily integrity.  The tool kit includes a lesson plan and film (Who Can You Tell: bNfUmO) and Oscar takes a leading part in this film.   It's official launch is on that date - at one of the local schools in the Oxford Area.   Isobel got an official invitation to the event, but because of other commitments here at home (e.g. with her Dentist) she had to decline. 

For those of our readers unfamiliar with FGM, here is a brief description, provided for our listing by MsKA FGM (Female Genital Mutilation) involves the cutting of the female genitalia for cultural reasons and has no health benefit whatsoever. It can be extremely harmful, with many girls bleeding to death. FGM survivors are often left with life-long physical and emotional trauma. 

For further information about the work and ambitions of Oxford against Cutting (and the February 6th event) please click here -

The left hand photograph below is of The Blue Rabbit - as he is called in the film.  "Oscar" is the name Isobel called him while she was making him, and it was accepted by MsKA from OAC, with whom we have regularly chatted throughout the process of this order.  It is the one on which Oscar Blue Rabbit has been based.

Designer's calculations are on the right of this picture

The original enquiry wanted to know  if  Isobel could make a cuddly Toy, using similar colour fleece to the photographed model.  Buoyed by the recent success we had enjoyed at the WINTERFEST Christmas Bazaar, she felt able to accept the challenge.  (Misgivings set in pretty fast once she'd done so!!)

(Much of this post will be based on the actual listing for Oscar in this Shop - there seems little point in my duplicating stuff when there is no need.  This will explain the difference in some of the  print fonts that follow as well!)

Everyone who knows Isobel,  knows she is hopeless without a pattern, even though the OAC provided us with a photograph,  So she appealed for help from Etsy Team Members with whom she regularly liaises, and also to a former customer/collaborater - Sean Smith, Puppeteer Extraordinaire, based in Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA.  A copy of the original photograph was sent to Tulsa (isn't technology great - when it works)?  He set to - and Sean Smith's calculations are shown alongside it - in this second photograph,  

The pattern pieces were then transferred to two sheets of printing paper, posted back to us - with the instruction that they should all be increased by 200%.  The instructions were followed - to the letter - and Oscar is the result, after several attempts on Isobel's part.  Creating a fabric toy model based on a photograph of a plastic/plasticine animation model evidently had it's challenges!  

As you may have observed, Oscar Blue Rabbit in his role as Mascot Toy for the Oxford Against Cutting's latest project doesn't have the whiskers the original designer had in mind.  They look splendid in the supplied  photograph - but not when Isobel had a go - 

Our own supply of Cat's Whiskers were too thin.  When our haberdashery supplier was consulted, the pipe cleaners (see in the above photo) in as near a colour match as we could find, were far too fat.  So, as Isobel is not keen on spiky appendages to Cuddly Toys as a rule, and in particular where Oscar is concerned, after discussion with MsKA, we did not progress any further along this route..  Whiskers, no matter how they are made, can't help but be spiky -  and we all think Oscar's chubby cheeks look great without them.  Do hope Oscar's prospective Forever Friends will agree.  They, of course, are at liberty to decorate THEIR Oscar Blue Rabbit in any way THEY choose, once he arrives home.

The following photos show how Oscar came into being:

The original pattern only allowed for two head pieces, and Isobel did think it might be easier if Oscar had a gusset joining them together (shown here)  The ears were tacked on, but he didn't look right, so two more head pieces were cut out, and we started all over again.  (The additional gusset fabric made the head even heavier than it already is)

This time around, Oscar's eyes were changed slightly, and his cheek pieces laid on his face before being finally attached.  Then Isobel went to work on his body, and that proved an exercise in itself.  The original photograph shows him with rather spindly arms and legs

 - which might well work for a plasticine animation model, but doesn't quite do the same when you make them with fabric, stuffed with polyester (meeting all international safety standards, by the way). The foot pattern template provided by Sean Smith was entirely inadequate to have any hope of Oscar standing on his own. (In messages between them, Sean Smith did admit to being somewhat concerned himself! He also made the template so that the legs were attached more as part of a hip, rather than directly to the body at its bottom - as in the original picture.)   However, with judicious fiddling around, Isobel did manage to get him to stand - by using the template for our Lady Dressed Toys'shoes, and shaping them to make them look like feet.  Each foot now also has a piece of cardboard on the base, which helps Oscar to stand better.  He also now has a head that will stay upright, by shortening it a little, and packing in the stuffing - to hold it in situ when attached to his body.  

By this time, you will see, Oscar has a mouth - in the original photo, you can see that it goes right across the face in one straight line.  Isobel felt that that gave him too severe a look, so shortened it - and when the photograph was sent to MsKA, she came back asking if we could make Oscar have more of a smile.  You can see in the first picture to this post, that this was achieved - but not before de-stuffing the head, before the head was attached to the body.

In all the excitement, and to-ing and froing, between Tulsa, Oxford and Kirkby in Ashfield, Oscar nearly appeared minus that vital appendage that no self-respecting Rabbit should be seen in public without  - his Fluffy White Tail.  Again, Isobel resorted to her Rabbit patterns, created a slightly larger one to match Oscar's own vital statistics, and the result is shown here.

The lighting for this photo is not right, but it does show the vital appendage.  There's something in the light blue fleece fabric that doesn't like being photographed under the electric lights in our flat.  It's not much better when we try to take photographs of our Rabbits in bright daylight either.  Isobel will have to ponder on how to get around this problem - if we are to offer many more Oscars (and other Light Blue Fleece Rabbits - Big or Small) in future. 

A second rabbit was also made - 

with similar colours to Oscar,  but based on our own pattern, used for Fleece Rabbits in the COLDHAMCUDDLIES Shop - - in case the original photograph did not result in a completed ToyIsobel made him Oxford Blue coloured paws and feet, and his facial features were sewn on in matching blue Double Knit Yarn. He also got a pair of Oxford Blue Ear linings made in fleece, rather than our usual satin lining fabric.   In the event, it was not required.  He therefore accompanied Oscar Blue Rabbit when he went to meet the Oxford Against Cutting Team for the first time.  He is COLDHAMCUDDLIES' first donation towards the Charity's fund-raising efforts and we hope it won't be the last.  (It would seem that having a black background does help the photographing conundrum referred to earlier!).  

Currently, Oscar is a one-off.  However, Isobel  retains the pattern templates (again with the agreement of Oxford Against Cutting - just in case anyone else would like to have their own Oscar.  She inadvertently omitted to send them with Oscar when he went to meet his Destiny earlier this Year.  Although based on the original pattern, future Oscar Blue Rabbits will not be an EXACT duplicate of the one we are looking at here.  Isobel finds it impossible to create an EXACT COPY of any Toy she makes - that is, after all, the point of "HAND MADE" and the difference between machine produced toys.  The more Oscars who are made, should result in a faster turn around, as well.   (Sean Smith has already indicated he would like one!!!)  

NB:  Every Oscar Blue Rabbit who gets adopted will result in 20% of his purchase price (£5.00:  circa $7.00 USD) being donated to Oxford Against Cutting (registered charity number 1161597) to assist the Charity in their important, demanding, and relatively unpublicised work in stopping this abuse of human rights against girls and young women.   (Any new Oscars will also have a COLDHAMCUDDLIES label attached under his Tail - as do all our Fleece Bunnies).

Here's a direct message from Isobel herself:

PLEASE BE AWARE;  Orders received for any COLDHAMCUDDLIES products are handled in order of receipt, and Oscar's potential adopters will receive EXACTLY the same treatment.  COLDHAMCUDDLIES, as well as being a handmade Toy Shop, is also a "prescribed" occupational therapy for myself - to assist in keeping increasing arthritis in my hands and other limbs at bay.  The current dispatch dates are therefore set to allow me reasonable time to make a new Oscar (or other COLDHAM Cuddly) from scratch, but also to take account of Work in Progress at the time any enquiry is received.  Dispatch dates are NORMALLY well within the set timetable, and any changes are notified via email and/or the Etsy convo system. Please take this situation into account when placing your order.  No one connected with this project wants YOU to be disappointed.

We'll be back in touch again soon - hopefully next week, but one never knows!!

Have a good week Everyone!  

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Cy Bear