Sunday, 29 April 2012

The Renaissance of Rusty Bear - Final Appearance(s)

As promised in our last post, there are some pictures of Rusty, the Giant Bear, fully complete and showing himself off around the Hospital of St. John, Heytesbury were we all reside.

Here he is, sitting on one of the Garden benches in the Spring sunshine.

Now, he's moved to sit, propped up by a Flowering Cherry Tree in another part of the garden

Finally, when he visited one of our neighbours - who had seen him prior to his treatment and
 had specifically requested a return visit.  She was so impressed by his new look that she insisted on taking a picture of him on her sofa and then printing it off so that I could have a copy of it as well!  This lady is now in her late eighties, but loves using her computer and plays a lot of games on it.  She was delighted to be able to put her computer to a "better use" - her words, not mine!

That brings the saga of Rusty Bear to an end.  He is due to return home to High Wycombe at the end of this week - rather than the end of May, as earlier suggested.  I'll try to remember to take a picture of him sitting in his Best Friend, Philippa's new car prior to his departure.  Should be interesting to see what, if any, reaction occurs as they drive the 80-odd miles back home.  This time, there should be more traffic on the road - being a Friday afternoon, prior to a Bank Holiday!

The next post will be along shortly.  Am presently experimenting with one of the new animal patterns given me as a Mothers Day present by younger daughter, Clare.  While off-line I was able to complete Cy Bear's doppelganger, temporarily named Cy Bear II, who is waiting to travel to Normandy to join our recent Clinic patients, Mons. Reynard and Mme Lapin.   Also, the 10 Baby Koalas, destined to travel to Sequals, Italy to join The Italian Mob.  They are waiting for a departure date - but our friend, RFE is currently "on walkabout", and we await a signal from him as to when travel arrangements can be made.

Until the next post - all the best to everyone.  Isobel

Thursday, 26 April 2012

The Renaissance of Rusty Bear, Part 3

It's been great to have as many comments on Part 2 as have arrived today - and I'm thrilled to inform everyone that, despite the recent break-down in transmission now has 160 Followers!  Thanks so much to everyone.

Also, after all this time, I've discovered that not only can I invite you to follow us:  but you can become Friends of ours as well (until now, I had thought that was the same thing!)  So,  the more recent of you kind folk have just been invited via the Blogger Dashboard to become a Friend, as well as receiving a brief message of welcome to the Happy Band of Coldham Cuddlies!   My original Followers don't seem to be able to be contacted in the same way - you've been with us for a long time! - so I'm taking this opportunity to invite all of you who haven't received a specific invitation to take it as read - and become a FRIEND INDEED!  Not sure exactly what happens, if you don't - but not to worry:   the knowledge that you are supporting us as Followers is sufficient encouragement.

Now, to the next stage of Rusty's therapy:

Using a different angle to the final picture in our the last post, shows Rusty with tissue paper wrapped round his eyes.  Over the course of his lifetime, the pupils had become very scratched, with the black bits missing in all sorts of places on each eye.   So I called for advice from Helen, our House Supervisor here at the Hospital of St. John.  She, and fellow staff member here, Sue, are great Crafters in their own right and  have introduced me to suitable craft fairs since ColdhamCuddlies became operational.  They decided the best way of improving Rusty's sight was to paint the pupils over - with either enamel paint or nail varnish.  After briefly rubbing both eyes with sandpaper (to give some grip), Helen used Black Nail Varnish for the job (hence the use of tissues to separate the eyes from the surrounding plush fur fabric).  After two coatings, followed by a couple of coats of plain varnish, Rusty can now "see" without any interruption to his vision!

When he first arrived for treatment earlier this year, I guessed that when it came to stuffing the Giant Bear, it would probably take about 6 kilos (circa 14 lbs)  to do the complete job.  I'm fortunate that my source for this vital piece of toy-making (Fine Quality Feather Company in Frome, Somerset) are willing to sell me the polyester fibre for the same price per kilo (2.2lbs) that I can obtain 100 grammes (4 ozs) of the same stuff elsewhere!  However, there wasn't room in our flat for both Rusty-as-was and the 6 kilos of stuffing at the same time, so the latter was deposited in our storage unit some 10 miles away from Heytesbury.  The price of gas being what it is these days, and the fact that the unit is located somewhat out of our usual range of activities meant that it was a day or two before it was convenient for us to go and pick up the packaged stuffing.  It looked like this before the bags were unpacked, ready for use.

It was another Sunday morning that the stuffing procedure began.  Rusty was laid out on our bed, on his front, and I started to fill the legs first.


At Peter's specific suggestion, both the arms and legs are not stuffed as firmly as the body and head.- Because, when we went to stay with Philippa in December, Peter had a fall in the bedroom where Rusty reigns supreme in a wooden Rocking Chair, surrounded by all the Morrell Bear Family.  If it hadn't been for Rusty's soft legs, Peter could have hurt himself a great deal more than he did!  So, in case of future need (Heaven forfend), the legs are firm, but soft - rather than rock hard!

The following series of pictures shows how the stuffing was carried out.

By sitting him in the chair he currently occupies in our flat, I was able to get his legs set in a similar position to where they had been before, and it also enabled me to get a better angle on his head when it came to stuffing that part of his anatomy.

I'd kept his ears sewn in place when using the "Quic-unpic" to begin the treatment, so it was just a question of ladder-stitching the front and back head pieces together - and finally attaching his red tongue. 

After 25 years, although his original one was useable, it seemed appropriate to give him a fresh one after all the washing and drying he'd gone through.  The final touch was to tie his original ribbon round his neck - it too went through the washing, drying and, in its case, ironing process!

I've some more pictures of Rusty taken as he visited his new-found friends around the Hospital of St. John.  These will form the basis of my next post in a day or so.  So, for now, good bye!  Isobel.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Hello there to everyone!  Am no quite sure what happened to this post, but looking at my Archive and Edit Post pages this afternooon, I find that this has been languishing there as a Draft.  It may have been because I had only just managed to re-connect to Blogger, but whatever - don't think it will cause too much of a problem, but I really do apologise for those of you who have been following Rusty's progress!

This was posted May 7, 2012, although it is appearing in the right context!  

The Renaissance of Rusty Bear - Part 2:

Well, well - hello everybody, after a three week absence from the blogging scene.  Suffice to say that what with one thing and another, I return to the story of the Renaissance of Rusty Bear a great deal wiser about the dangers of working on the internet, and hopefully, having learned how to avoid some of the pitfalls that await a 71+ silver surfer who DOES indeed go where "angels fear to tread".

In Part 1 of this saga, poor Rusty's final picture shows him head down, inside out and hanging over and on a dustbin in the garbage area here at the Hospital of St. John, Heytesbury, where we live.  Having rid him of as much of the polystyrene filling and other stuffing mixture as possible, a change of plan was called for.  Originally, I'd intended to remove his eyes and nose - thinking that that could be easily accomplished:  however, once his stuffing had been totally removed it quickly became obvious that when Rusty was produced by a company located in Eastern Canada, these items had been put in, with the intention they would remain for ever!

The next stage was to get the Giant Bear cleaner, so once the bathroom was vacant, I ran a cold bath and carefully put him into the water, making sure that the entire carcass was covered.  He spent about six hours immersed in the water, and then came the difficult job of getting him out.

 Now my hands are not that strong these days, and Rusty thoroughly wet as he was,  was quite difficult to get out of the bath.  The task of wringing him out was accomplished eventually, and the remaining water in the bath was  definitely grey!

Rusty was then transported to the Hospital Laundry area and I carefully washed him using lukewarm water and delicate soap mixture to continue to remove the accumulated dirt of 25 years. It took two washes and several rinses before I was satisfied that I'd finally done the job!   He was too big to get into the spinner, so I had to try to wring him out by hand - somewhat unsuccessfully.  However, as it was on a Sunday that this took place, and there were spare  "Sheila Maids" (wood slatted driers that are hung from the ceiling) I could use, Rusty was carefully draped over one, conveniently placed between the boiler that operates part of the Hospital's heating system and a heater in the laundry area itself.  I had another dust sheet at the ready under the drier to catch the drips (plenty of them!) and left him for the rest of the day and night.

Next day, Rusty was dry, looking a great deal cleaner and ready to be stuffed.   Before leaving the laundry, I put the dust sheet (which was absolutely soaking wet) into the spinner and then hung it on the empty Sheila Maid so that it could, in turn, dry off.

 The stuffing operation was one that was likely to take some time, and I wasn't able to carry it out immediately.  So, Rusty was carefully laid over the fold-away bed in my work room in the apartment and finished drying off, ready for the next stage of his recovery.  In front of him are the Hedgehog Family that had recently been made, waiting to be photographed before listing at (Etsy Listings:  #95652141, 95653310, and 95653745 respectively).  Space in my work room is at a premium, and Rusty does take up quite a lot of space - and I'm pleased to say that he did not shrink as a result of his immersion!

The next installment will cover the final part of the renaissance and reveal Rusty Bear ready to be sent home to Best Friend, Philippa - a renunion now likely to take place at the end of May.

Be back with you (now I'm once again operational) in a day or so.  Meanwhile, good bye - it's just great to be blogging again!  Isobel

Monday, 2 April 2012

The Renaissance of Rusty Bear - Part I

When posting a couple of evenings ago, I ended with the promise that I would bite the bullet and get down to stuffing Rusty, the Giant Bear.  Well, I finally achieved it - after about 2-1/2 hours work before getting lunch on Sunday, and another three-quarters of an hour afterwards.  It wasn't as difficult as anticipated (often the case, isn't it, when one has been putting things off for some time?). I took several pictures, so the telling may get spread into two or more installments.

The photo with which I begin this tale shows just how much Rusty required help - he had accumulated over 25 years' worth of dust collected while travelling between Western Canada, the UK, spending some time in storage while daughter, Philippa - his Best Friend, had lived and worked in Belgium and then shunting around London when he and Philippa joined up once more.

When Rusty arrived in Heytesbury at Christmas, his size impressed dear Cy Bear who had only just got over not being as big as Tommy Teddy (whose treatment formed the post on 27/11/2011).  Cy Bear was almost overwhelmed and has since persisted in labelling Rusty as a "Monster Bear".  I don't think that's a kind description:  so from henceforth, he will be called a "Giant Bear".

The treatment began with me wielding my trusty "Quick Un-pic" and opening his head.  Fortunately, I'd taken the precaution of covering my workroom floor with a dust sheet, because his head stuffing - a mixture of tiny polystyrene balls and other assorted stuffing materials - promptly fell out.  Having collected as much as feasible into a nearby black garbage bag - everyone familiar with the adhering qualities of polystyrene to any man-made fabric (Rusty is made with a thick, long nap plush fabric) will understand that it was quite a job.  The stuff went everywhere but the dust sheet, and I spent valuable time vacuuming up the stuff that had gone round the room.

That left the rest of Rusty;   I realised that the next stage had to take place outside - in the area at the Hospital of St. John where all the garbage bins are housed!  He required to be carefully emptied, bit by bit,with as much of his stuffing as possible put into handy garbage bags and then turned inside out.  The polystyrene behaved as expected, so once he had been turned inside out -

I got the hand vacuum out and removed the rest of the stuffing from his seams, and other parts of his torso.
The post will have to end now, as the page is coming to the bottom.  Next installment will therefore follow - soon.  Until then, good night!  Isobel

Sunday, 1 April 2012

New Developments on the Cuddlies Front.

Having completed my March obligations to the BESTeam, feel it's time for a return to normal Coldham Cuddlies blogging news, so here goes.

Today was able to establish that Mme Lapin and Mons. Reynard eventually negotiated their way through the hazards of inter-UK/French postal channels, and have arrived safely at their home in Normandy nearly two weeks after they left.  MrsIM while pleased to have them back again -  is somewhat taken aback by how much they have been changed while undergoing their rejuvenation therapy.  She's happy with how they look ..... but they're are NOT her little, long-time friends!  Well....that's what happens during rejuvenation, isn't it?  So, it's a big message to me that in future customers should be made more aware that what arrives in the Clinic may well look very different when they return home again.  Hopefully, by the time we go to see the family later in the year, everyone will have settled back into their accustomed relationship.  Meanwhile, despite the concern, have been assured that payment is already on its way!

However, I've also said that I shall be taking a new pair of leather boots for Mons. Reynard as I was never totally happy with how  his new pair turned out:  and it seems that the change of footwear is of particular concern to MrsIM.  Can't have distressed relations, can one - especially one's sister-in-law.

Yesterday, (March 30) news arrived from MrsTP residing in Monroe, NJ that Fanny and Francis Fox have also safely arrived in their Forever Home and that Emma and they were getting acquainted and loving being together.  The Foxes' journey from Wiltshire to Monroe only took 6 days, which was good, and they've already enjoyed a tea party!  Life looks like being full of fun for all concerned - and I am hoping that there will be pictures of the little friends before too long.

Fanny Fox, in the garden here in Heytesbury
While arranging the transaction, I also discovered that Emma is being home-schooled.  Now, that's something we ended up doing with our two daughters when were lived in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada - and wished we'd done it a whole lot earlier than we actually did.  One of the things we arranged then was for our younger daughter, Clare, to acquire a Chinese pen pal - which was a great success.  Clare and her Chinese friend (who later arrived in Edmonton, just before we left to return to the UK in 1987) discovered on meeting that they were not only pen pals, but also twins:  having both been born on the same day!  During our conversations, I asked MrsTP whether Emma might like to have an English pen pal.  Seems Emma is keen to have a go, so I've put MrsTP and Clare in contact with each other, as Clare is Godmother to a young English lass and we'll wait to see what comes of this introduction.  Think it is a great way for folks to learn more about each other's lifestyles - how about you?

Sometime ago, I mentioned that I was going to include a woven label attached discreetly on future Cuddlies as they are produced.  After some to-ing and fro-ing, they have finally arrived, and with immediate effect all new Cuddlies will have one when completed.  Those who have seen the new label (which is somewhat different to the sample I included in an earlier post) approve and say it should complete the "professional" look of the toys, whether they be plushies, fleece or dressed ones.

Then, a final update on the newest Cuddlies' development - the domain  Those of you who know me, and have followed me - 156 of you now, by the way (as of today) - will have realised that I do have a tendency to tread where angels fear to go when it comes to things to do with the internet.  In  my urge to cover my rear end and not suffer like Lisa (see my post "A Cautionary Tale - March 29, 2010) and purchasing the site (US$9.99 per annum) I suddenly realised that having got it, I had not got a clue as to what do next!  So, I've contacted United for assistance, and their Support people have already been most helpful.  They've asked me several pertinent questions and ended up by saying "not a problem...we'll set it up for you......!" (or words to that effect), so I'm waiting with anticipation to see what happens next.  Will keep you all posted, although probably most of you computer-literate types will already know!

As for what happens next here - well it's stuffing Rusty, the Monster Bear.  He's spent over 2 weeks without anything inside him, is well and truly dry and has now had his eyes redone.  I'll tell you all about what has happened to him shortly - once I've "fought" to get his new polyester innards fixed.  Admit, I've been procrastinating a little - but tomorrow, I shall bite the bullet and get going.  The 6 kilo bags of fibre have been sitting on the chair where Rusty previously sat - looking like this.

There are six separate bags of fibre in this package!
While Rusty himself has spent the last week,  looking like this.

Rusty, with tissue paper round his eyes while they got varnished
Now, let's see what happens when I put both together!  See you all soon!  Isobel