Saturday, 31 December 2011

Resolutions for 2012 + some future plans

Here we are at New Year's Eve 2011 - and I suppose it's time for New Year resolutions.

Obviously, one of mine has got to be more regular blogging - and I really will do more, other things permitting!
 My ideas for guest blogging are firming up.  It will take a bit of time to set up, but they should increase the posting flow.  Aim to begin inviting guest bloggers in the next few weeks, to if you're interested, please watch this space!  Meanwhile, anyone considering joining us in this pastime at might like to think about their most favourite toy.  If they can dig out pictures of it - particularly if it includes the owner, too, that could really start the ball rolling.  Must stress, though, the items should ONLY be soft toys;   bears, obviously - but rabbits, foxes, coyotes, and any other animal toys (elephants, horses, donkeys do spring to mind - but more exotic items would be more than welcome) that would be great. As I've never been a DOLL person, they are unlikely to  feature in any future ColdhamCuddlies related blog post!

Secondly, am going to improve my photographs.  The ones at are better than they were when I first started, but could probably be improved.  At someone's suggestion, I've concentrated on taking outdoor photographs.  However, with winter conditions prevailing - which means predominantly grey skies, if not actual snow in the UK so far this Winter - I'm well aware that those I often include here in my blogging efforts could DEFINITELY do with improvement, as they do tend to be snapshots, rather than photographs.  They illustrate what I'm doing, but don't really show things as they ought to appear and are taken as needed, rather than properly prepared.  So.... I've got two new possibilities to work with here.  One is experimental:  with toys, I hear folks ask?  Yup .... just carry on reading.

While recently away visiting eldest daughter before Christmas, Peter and I were invited as special guests to a Christmas Lunch organised by said daughter.  One of our fellow guests, when primed about my toy-making ventures, suggested that a small company in which he had an interest might well be able to increase my sales greatly.  As one does, when being wined and dined well, I welcomed the idea of an approach - any time ... as you do, don't you!  The follow-up call happened - the next week;  and it was an eye-opener.  Basically, the company has a gizmo that takes up to 50 images of a product from every known angle, and  a few that probably would not normally be thought about, and makes them into a composite 3-D image.  The idea of one of my toys getting the treatment was immediately appealing.  The flip side was that the cost was a little more at 50.00GBP (77.62 USD) an item than can currently handle!  However, the young man was nothing, if not a good salesman.  I'm being offered a FREE SAMPLE - and who can resist such an offer?  Will keep you all posted about what happens next - but if it works for me, I bet it could be interesting for many of you my lovely Followers, as well as lots of other fellow Etsians too.

With the permission of my France-based sister-in-law, Ivy, I'm going to use Madame Lapin - currently patiently awaiting rejuvenation treatment in the ColdhamCuddlies Soft Toy Clinic.  Early next week, she is going to be posted to this company's offices for a series of  "Before Treatment" shots.  She will be returned, and after I've de-stuffed her, washed her clothing and re-stuffed her, she will return to the photographer for the final "After Treatment" pics.  Thought a one-off free sample could be really well used to highlight the Clinic's services, rather than spending hours deciding which of the 25-odd toys at should be the chosen "victim".    Here's a picture of Madame Lapin as a reminder:

You can read some more about Madame Lapin in the post "The Coldham Cuddlies French Connection(s)/11/02/11 if you feel so inclined!

The second option occurred a few days later.  Looking through the myriad of freebie catalogues that fall through our letterbox at this time of the year (and all year, come to that) I spotted a mini-photographic studio (light-box type of thing) at a very reasonable price and decided that the business could afford to give me (and itself) a Christmas present - which could well result in a whole lot better indoor photographs, once I'd got my head round it.  I was on the telephone almost immediately to order it, the item arrived three days later - which completely threw me! - and it's currently sitting under the desk on which I am preparing this post, awaiting a thorough examination in upcoming days.  It consists of a three-sided platform, a tripod - complete with its own rigid platform - for a digital camera, two spotlights and three different coloured backgrounds to vary the outcome of any portrait. Everything folds up into a carrying case, and it is sold specifically for taking pictures for insurance or internet auctions, so I felt it was tailor-made for the Cuddlies.  Watch out for better indoor photographs ...... hopefully .... in the not too distant future.

Right, think that is enough for everyone to be going on with - should take me until at least March 2012 to achieve anything like I'm hoping to do, so I'd better begin now!

A Happy New Year to everyone.  Here's to 2012 - for everyone!  Cheers.  Isobel

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Following on - and getting ready for Christmas!

During the last post I published ten days' ago - where does the time go, I wonder? - I made mention of the Christmas Bazaar held here in Heytesbury on December 10.  I mentioned that I had made 7 sales and that the toys who have left the ColdhamCuddlies family will need to be replaced - somehow, sometime!

Well, having written our annual round robin letter to our friends, in which we update folks on the Morrell family's activites during the current year, printed them off, written individual messages on both the letters and the cards into which the letters are inserted and addressed/stamped the envelopes, I've just come up for air and am ready to face the blogging scene one again.  So - as a follow on (implied in the title of this post), here is a photograph of the table of toys in the Parish Church of St. Peter and St. Paul, Heytesbury - before the sale began.

Crib in the background, together with part of the pulpit showing a splendid carving

It was our luck to be placed there - right next door to a hot radiator (just to the left of the Golden Teddy Glove Puppet shown in this picture).  As it was  one of the first really cold days we've suffered this Winter, and believe me, English churches can be cold - even in high Summer - every time I began to get a little chilly, I just moved to my right and sat on the radiator!  LOVELY!

The local paper was invited and actually attended.  Several pictures were taken by the reporter, who also "interviewed" me, asking me about the Cuddlies - and showing particular interest in the concept of the Soft Toy Clinic and it's activities - I'd given him a card earlier in the morning!  The report has not yet appeared - but as The Warminster Journal seems to be about two week's behind in its reportage, I suspect if anything does appear,  it will be in an edition after Christmas.  If I feel it is a good story, I will include it in a future blog.  Even if it's only a brief mention, all publicity is good publicity - and a good ending for my first full year as Toymaker to the ColdhamCuddlies, and, hopefully, a good start for 2012 as well.

In the front of the table, you can just see the latest additions to the ColdhamCuddlies family:  a medley of Baby Bunnies, made in Pink, Purple, White and  Blue Fleece and decorated with a green holly leaf collar with a bright ribbon for use as a pram or cot toy.   This has been my latest project, which I've just completed having made four of each colour.  They will be listed in our shop after I've completed this post and although a little late for this Christmas, they can stay in the shop until next Christmas - or I can always change the collar and hanging ribbon for any colour that is requested.  (Hot off the Press:  Etsy Listing #89020911)

Two of the bunch (an all-Purple Baby Bunny and an all White Baby Bunny) have already left us - destined as a Welcome to the World present for a young man called Michael who arrived on December 13 - weighing in at 10 lbs! - which just happens to be Peter's birthday as well!  So no excuses on our part to forget this young man in future.  He was sent the Purple Baby Bunny, and his big sister was given the all White one - just so she could play with her little brother later on.

A Christmas ring of Baby Bunnies
Here, for your amusement are close-ups of the various Bunnies prior to joining their plush versions in the Baby Bunnies storage bag!  Their eyes are all made using Black Double Knitting yarn, and are also firmly sewn in, as well as being tied together and fixed into the individual toy's stuffing.  Little fingers should not be able to get them out, but if they do, they will probably collapse under the strain!

The remaining Purple Fleece Baby Bunnies.

Little Michael's present is similar (because I am quite incapable of making identical ones, however hard I try!) to the Bunny in the centre.

Here are the remaining White Baby Fleece Bunnies - the centre one's tail doesn't really show up!

These are like the one sent to Michael's Big Sister.

These are the Pink Baby Fleece Bunnies - choice of White fronts, or not, are up to the Buyer!

These are the Blue Fleece Baby Bunnies - their tails do show up!

All the Bunnies have furry white Bob Tails and do sit up if firmly placed on their respective surfaces - unless of course they are being hung up in a pram or the side of a cot.  They'd all also make ideal stocking stuffers, and I'm considering making them up - if they don't go before - as hanging mobiles in time for next Christmas!

Right - I'm now off to list them in our Etsy shop -  See you all soon!  Isobel

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Happy Endings: new beginnings

Hello there - expect my regular Followers/Readers have decided that Cy Bear and I have just about given up blogging.  Not true, but since the computer went off for it's MOT (UK Ministry of Transport shortform - relating to vehicles over 3 years old) and used by everyone when check-ups (whether vehicular or human) are in the offing), and Peter and I returned from a brief visit to Philippa, accompanied by the rejuvenated Tommy Teddy, I just don't seem to have had the required time to compose a post.

The next couple of weeks prior to Christmas don't seem to be much better, but I do have a spare moment tonight, so am getting down to it again.  I have some happy endings to report.  Noel, the Xmas Rabbit - last mentioned as being somewhere between UK and Richmond, British Columbia has reached his Forever Home and seem to be settling in  remarkably well! Here is a picture of him, together with part of the message from his new Best Friend, Lyrawing (a.k.a. CK,):

"Hi Isobel,

Noel has arrived! He is so adorable and even cuter than the photos..... I've attached some photos of him with some very early Christmas cookies."

This is the best of the three pics Lyrawing sent
Then, after we returned from our trip away, I received the news that the Saudi Baby Bunnies had been gleefully received by their intended Best Friend, so that's another Cuddlies' story satisfactorily completed.

Then, finally, as I mentioned earlier, Tommy Teddy is now back home surrounded by his friends in the Morrell Bear Family.   Daughter, Philippa, was delighted to have him back, quickly got used to his new appearance, and as far as I know, Tommy Teddy's chums are also happy with both aspects too.

Rusty is the Big Fellow:  Teddy (L) and Sleep Teddy (R)
Rusty is indeed a Giant - he's in need of some refurbishment too, and is due to accompany Philippa here for his treatment, when she comes to see us at Christmas, so he will be registered as the latest member of the Soft Toy Clinic.  Just to give you some idea of his dimensions:  if he stands beside me (and I'm about 5ft      7 inches in stocking feet), he comes up to my armpit!  Philippa is threatening to have him sit beside her as she drives him down from High Wycombe to Heytesbury!  It should be interesting to compare the reaction of British drivers with those in Edmonton, Canada in the mid-1980's, when I drove him home one Christmas time, as he sat beside me in the front of our car, after winning him in a raffle!  He made an unexpected present and addition to the toy family that year!  Until then, I'd really not been that successful in raffle and other such competitions:  since his arrival, I have had the odd success, every now and again.  Not regularly, but enough to keep one carrying on trying!  More Anon about Tommy Teddy & Co.

Earlier today, I had a successful couple of hours selling 7 Cuddlies while participating in the Christmas Fete held today in the Parish Church of St. Peter & St. Paul. HeytesburyTwo Koalas, Four Baby Rabbits and the Rabbit Glove Puppet are on their way to their new Forever Homes - all destined as Christmas presents for some little folk.

On that happy note, I'll end this post - and get down to drafting our annual Christmas letter to our friends so that I can get the cards all sent out.  Regret that I shall not be sending them to you all - my lovely Followers - this year, but I'm taking this opportunity to wish you all a truly Blessed Christmas and a Happy, Prosperous New Year (before I forget to do so in the hustle and bustle we face in the next couple of weeks!)  The Festive Season has caught up with me this year - normally, I'm much better organised!  Must be the blogging and toy-making taking up more of my time than of yore.

Bye for now.  Isobel