Thursday, 30 January 2014

Well - You can't win them all! The Patient that "escaped"!

Good evening everybody.

 I'm pleased to be back, ready to tell you about our former Patient in the Stuffed Animal Restoration Clinic (Etsy Listing # 79124185) - who came in ready for a full treatment, and then returned home without even a stitch being sewn!

Beaugey Bear (that's how I think his name is spelled - his Forever Friend was somewhat unsure herself when asked to clarify!) arrived in time to be the centre piece for a presentation I recently made to the Heytesbury Branch of the Royal British Legion Women's Section.  (The subject was - you guessed it - Restoring Teddy Bears )   He had also been staying with us while his ear had been posted to my mohair bear  fabric supplier in Telford, Shropshire so we could match his fur and provide him with a whole new coat - as my initial inspection had indicated this is what he would require.

While waiting for this ear to come back, he witnessed the departure of our latest Koala - about which Cy Bear posted last week - and also participated in Koala's Farewell ceremony.

This picture was actually taken before his ear was sent off for matching to Mohair Bear Making Supplies Ltd,  the supplier mentioned earlier, and you can see Beaugey's original colour quite clearly.  When matching takes place, the fabric supplier matches the colour of the canvas to which the mohair pile is attached and it shows how it can change as Bears are played with and loved to bits during their lives.

However, as the first paragraph implies, the treatment did not take place - because Beaugey is destined to return to the den in which he has lived for the past forty-something years, and his Forever Friend - after thinking about my estimate for the treatment - decided that it was not worth putting him through the trauma of the treatment.  She would not do anything with him herself but wrap him up once more;  and she has no family or offspring who might be interested in giving him a home.  Thus, we both decided it was kinder to Beaguey for him to get his ear sewed back on again, and for him to return home to hibernate once more.

Before taking him home yesterday, though, I took some photographs of his current condition, and with the permission of Beaguey's Forever Friend, I thought I'd show them to you - and suggest how he could have been treated - because there was more than one way this could have been done.  Both would have probably cost much the same, but one would have been much more satisfactory than the other.

Beaugey's most obvious need was for a new left arm.  There was precious little of the original mohair fabric with which to work, which was the starting point for my suggestion that he needed a complete new coat - because the arm would have looked very out of place had I replaced it with what mohair supplies I had in stock - some of which were near matches, but not quite.  I also suggested that all his head and limb joints be replaced - because the current cotter pin discs were probably as rusted as the one in this picture.  Their size had undoubtedly contributed to the damage to Beaugey's arm.  The cardboard gets very hard as the years go by, and any movement eventually results in a hole appearing in the vicinity of the joint  - whether it is a leg or an arm, or indeed, a head.  The modern plastic replacements are a lot lighter, as well as having less sharp edges and they do not rust.

His legs needed to be stuffed, as they had got somewhat floppy and I suggested that his entire stuffing should be replaced.  What little I could see, and his estimated age,  led me to believe that Beaugey's insides were a mixture of kapok covering wood chips for his body and head, while his arms would probably have kapok alone.  That material,  after some years, tends to collapse and leave the limbs lookinglike  Beaugey's legs.  His pads were also a bit shabby and he would have been given some smart glove quality leather replacments once the stuffing had been added.

 (Those of you who have followed this blog since it's inception in March 2011 will know that I have some particular  bete-noires when it comes to stuffing materials used in Toys that I have had the privilege to restore over the months.  The worst are polystyrene balls, closely followed by wood chippings, and then kapok.  All were used at different times since Teddy Bears were first invented and some could be said to be dangerous - because of their inflammability.  Whereas, the polyester fibrefill that I now use has been tested to glory and is compliant with all international safety standards.)

His sweater had definitely seen better days - and, is in fact, part of the Forever Friend's late Father's sock which had been cut up so that Beaugey's chest wound would not be exposed.

Beaugey's Forever Friend said this splendid piece of patching was in fact the handiwork of her father, who seems to have been a dab hand with the needle!  But this too was added reason for my suggestion of the total coat replacement.  As you may recall - it's sometime since I undertook a complete replacement therapy on a Bear (the local supply of Bears for restoration is beginning to run out!) - where possible I never discard the original pieces, however damaged they are. This piece of body would have been difficult  to preserve, as there was not much left that wasn't patched.  Normally, once the pieces have had their warm water bath and dried out, I always attach the useable bits - each one to its equivalent piece on the replacement fabric - and each piece is cut with an extra quarter  inch seam.  The result is that when completed, the New Look Toy is usually a little bigger than when he started - because the original pieces have taken up their allocated space on each section of the new body.  The original Toy is still there (but out of sight).

These three photographs of Beaugey's head and face from different angles shows how his mohair pile had worn away, there's been some attempt to darn or patch him as the years have passed (Dad's sewing skills again to the fore!), but all in all the whole head would have needed to be replaced, as well as his body.  I would have retained his button eyes, because they still gleam with glee and with the aid of this photograph, I should have been able to make a stab at making his final look similar to the determined look he currently carries.

Finally, the ears.  Because they are rather smaller than the rest of the body, replacing them in the way I do the body - by attaching them to the new fabric would make the final result somewhat bulky, so I usually discard the original ears, once I have made a cardboard template from the existing appendage.  But, given the state of the one sent away to be matched (see below) it would have been difficult really to tack them to the new fabric had I ever gone that route.

I did mention earlier in this post, that there were two ways in which Beaugey could have been treated.  The replacement option I have detailed.  But the alternative was to remove all the stuffing and rusty cotter pin limb discs, giving him the usual warm water bath and drying him out - all in one piece, then darning all the holes with a matching yarn.  This might have been as difficult to achieve as getting an exact match with half a metre of mohair fabric (currently priced at a minimum of £72.50/metre + postage and packaging).  The time and effort of doing the second option would probably have taken about the same time (if one takes into account the time lapse between the order being placed and the fabric being delivered).  So the cost of the second option would probably have been about £50-£60.00 - whereas, the whole coat replacement option would have been about £60-£80.00, based on previous treatments offered in the Clinic.

Anyway, Beaugey didn't have to face either option in the event - and this is him the night before he went home to his den, with his well-travelled ear back in place.

Now, having reported on this latest event in the world of Coldham Cuddlies, it's back to the Wolf project.  MsKN's selected eyes have arrived safely, just in time for me to put the Yellow eyes into Mrs Buchanan Wolf.  Unexpectedly, a selection of Blue Eyes were also part of the consignment.  Although I had already made Mr. Buchanan Wolf's head including a pair of blue eyes already in stock, following a conversation this afternoon via email, it has been decided that the head will be taken to bits and the current blue eyes replaced with MsKN's choice.  That's the next job - after my usual battle with leather boots for Mr. Wolf!

See you all soon.  Isobel

Saturday, 25 January 2014

The Experiment is successful: now for the partial introduction of the Buchanan Wolves.

Cy Bear calling in after a spell away from posting here.  It's just amazing how fast this New Year is going past.  Only a month today, it was Christmas Day - and here we are, nearly at the end of January already.

Isobel has been busy finishing off the experimental Wolves who are set to become part of the Cuddlies Family shortly and was able to send pictures of them, almost completed to MsKN - the author who has been waiting patiently for them to be done since she first contacted us in August last year.  The wonderful thing about this assignment is that there has not been a deadline - and Isobel has been able to finish Slippers, send more Cuddlies off to their Forever Homes and think about how the Wolves will be made.

I'm pleased to say that based on the photographs we sent earlier this week, the experimental Mr and Mrs Wolf have passed muster.  Isobel will  now get on with Mr. Buchanan Wolf  who has been ordered, while we await the arrival of some special coloured glass eyes that MsKN particularly wanted for her Mrs Buchanan Wolf.  They're called that at the moment, because MsKN specifically required them to be dressed in the Buchanan tartan plaid fabric which is presently worn by our Tartan Foxes (Etsy Listing #65456642).  Originally there were three of them:  now we are reduced to two - the one in the middle of this picture was sent to her Forever Home early in December.

We are still waiting to hear how she was received by her Forever Friend.  The person ordering them told us they had arrived at her home, but Miss Buchanan Fox with the yellow braid adornment was destined as a Christmas present for her Mum (whose ancestors were Scottish Buchanans).

MsKN's Wolves have the surname Buchanan in her story -a series of three. ( Isobel has read - and enjoyed - the first one) but MsKN is anxious to have some models wearing the plaid before her as she sits and writes the rest of her story.

To begin with, Isobel decided she would make two versions of the Gentleman Wolf and two of the Lady Wolf, and began with cutting out and sewing up their heads.  Since she was using fabric with a much thicker pile than the faux fur plush we normally use for our Foxes, she decided to experiment as she went along - and has actually shaped their faces in a way that she has not done previously, and she's used a plastic nose for Mr. Wolf - the first time she's done this.  (Normally, as you know, our noses have been embroidered with black or brown double knitting yarn).

 (It has been decided that we will be using Plastic Noses some more in future - they give a completely different "look" to the finished Toy!)

The same pattern is being used as the basis for the Wolves as Isobel uses for the Foxes and Coyotes in the Coldham Cuddlies Family, but because the fabric has such a different texture (it's much thicker), the head looks a bit bigger.  Apart from the eyes, which are actually green in this version, MsKN was happy for us to go ahead, as long as  her Mr. Wolf had Blue eyes.  This we've been able to do, and he doesn't look that much different from the photo we've shown you.

Isobel then made his clothes - with a smart Brown Tweed Jacket, and contrasting jodhpurs in the rather unusually striped velveteen fabric we have in stock.  Together with some smart brown leather boots, he looks like this - without the head attached.  MsKN did wonder if her Wolf might have a Brown Tweed Suit, and we were prepared to meet this request.  However, Isobel felt (and MsKN now agrees) that the finished Toy would present rather a dull appearance, so the striped trousers will now be produced once again.

The waistcoat is not made with the Buchanan Tartan and Isobel has yet to establish to which clan it actually belongs.  This will be established before we list both Mr. and Mrs. Tartan Wolf in our shop at, but we thought you'd like to see what Isobel has been doing in the interval between this post and the one she sent last week.

(The sharp eyed Followers among you will doubtless notice that one boot is not level with the other here!  The finished product does have level boots!  All will be revealed when both the Wolves are listed, once the Buchanan Wolves are on their way to their Forever Home).

We've also found a new home for another of our Baby Koalas (Etsy Listing #55190188) - the order came in from  MrGC in Hong Kong earlier this week, with a plea that if possible, he'd like it to be sent to him before February 14.  As Koala was in stock, we arranged a rapid Koala Catwalk session with the three remaining Baby Bears, one was chosen - and having agreed to accept the package being sent via International Signed For  rate charged by UK Royal Mail, Koala was upgraded and  is now travelling as a "parcel" rather than a "small packet" - which his weight actually allowed him to go.  We're now all keeping our fingers crossed that he will arrive in time.  Here's a picture of him before he departed for his Forever Home.

There's another post being prepared - to be published sometime next week - about a potential Patient in our Stuffed Animal Restoration Clinic (Etsy Listing #79124185).  He arrived for treatment, his ear was dispatched for matching purposes, and then his Forever Friend changed her mind.  We'll tell you all about that next time.

In the meantime - it's been nice being with you all once again.  Cy Bear.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

More about The Stuffed Animal Restoration Clinic

Hello Everyone!

Somewhat belatedly, I find myself fulfilling the promise (threat?) that ended Cy Bear's last  post almost a week ago.  But the delay has been for many reasons.  Sewing commitments:   I am in the midst of making four Wolves, two which are in response to a definite order,  and the other two are my experiments. These are for a very specific requirement and it's the first time I've attempted to produce a Wolf Cuddly - more anon, when they are completed.  The ones that aren't accepted by the Customer - a published author, who wants to have some Cuddly Models for her own enjoyment, once her second book in a tri-part series reaches completion - will be listed as full members of the COLDHAMCUDDLIES family on

However the principal reason is down to my usual problems in dealing with technology.  Below is a copy of a pdf file that was sent to me of one of the pages in the Letters Page of The Lady Magazine - a long time U.K. weekly publication with a fascinating history of its own.  Try as I may, I cannot get it more legible than this, but it does give you an idea of what I am so excited about.  "The Lady and I" feature is published every week and deals with a different reader's relationship with The Lady magazine, and last Friday, January 10 - it was  MY TURN to be featured. 

 I had responded to a previous article dated November 22, in which the author illustrated what can happen to a series of Much Loved Bears - and the state of some of them were even worse than some that have been Patients in the Stuffed Animal Restoration Clinic (Etsy Listing # 79124185.)

Because I want you to see what the feature contained, I am providing the full "translation" - some of my long term Followers here may recognise Edward Bear's "Before" and "After" pictures that are included in the feature!  (How Edward Bear Became a New Bear - 20/01/2013 and "Oops Edward Bear Needs a New Nose"- 31/01/2013) both describe Edward's original treatment - goodness me a year ago, almost to the day!  How doth tempus fugit!!

The feature begins:


 Being parted from her beloved bear when she went to boarding school may have led one reader to a creative career in toy making.

 I was fascinated to read the article Loved to Bits about worn bears (22 November issue), because when I first went to boarding school, I was not allowed to take my beloved bear with me - my parents were dismayed at her state of disfigurement.  But when I returned home after my first term, I was upset to find that she was no longer there.  Perhaps that is why I wanted to save other bears and their owners from a similar separation.

I went on to become a toy maker of new, handmade plush toys, and today I am often asked if I can treat older bears that live in my village.  It's not a task I undertake lightly, because the owners of said bears have to be very sure that they do indeed want their companion bears to look "better".

When they have been restored, they can look very different from the state in which they have existed for however many years they have been together.  The oldest bear I have treated has been more than 100 (best estimate), and most are in their 40s to 80s.

If there are readers who have a bear - on their bed or in their attics - that might welcome being "rejuvenated", restorers like me love to give new life to old favourites."

Now, normally, each contribution to the Letters Page includes an attribution - Name and address - but for very understandable reasons I received the following explanation from the Letters Editor when I wrote to express my thanks for being published.  I had also enquired if it would be in order for me to use the fact that I had been published in such an august publication as The Lady here, and afterwards, by linking the post (as I usually do) to Facebook, Google+, Twitter  and, more recently, www. (   

In an e-mail, the Letters Editor responded:
  • Dear Isobel,
Thank you for your e-mail – I’m delighted you’re pleased with it, and yes, please do feel free to make mention of it.  Attached is a pdf of the page which you might find useful.

I’m sorry we didn’t actually include your name & town – I think we were so concerned not to seem to be promoting a business that somehow that got edited out altogether.

 (The Letters Editor has also promised to forward any enquiries that might be precipitated by anyone reading the item.  Here's hoping!!)

Even on the partially successful scan, there is a further item included, part of which which says:

"Each Week the writer of The Lady & I wins a copy of Memory Lane's double CD, My Special Angel.  Be swept up in nostalgia with this beautifully presented album featuring more than 50 original hits from the TV show Call The Midwife (a BBC programme which is very popular here in the UK).  Send your stories (of 350 words) to the address above, marked The Lady & I"

I'm very pleased to be able to confirm that today that double CD arrived and I've spent a pleasant hour or two wallowing in the tunes of yesteryear.   (I haven't followed the programme - as I  tend to be sewing or "playing" with the computer (aka social media marketing!) at the time it is broadcast.  I do believe I'll even be able to exercise to it in between the weekly Zumba sessions!

That's it for tonight Folks!  Until the next time!  Isobel

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Describing a Coldham Cuddlies Catwalk Show

Good afternoon Everyone - and a Happy New Year from me, Cy Bear.

This photograph was taken on the occasion of the latest farewell to two of my Baby Bunny Friends, who left for their Forever Home on January 3.  Their first stop is to the home of the lady who ordered them (MsLC) who lives in Blacksburg, Virginia and we are just hoping that the bad weather they've been having in the eastern USA this week will not have delayed their journey too much. They're going as Welcome to the World presents to MsLC's little Nephew.   The Russet Brown Bunny (Etsy Listing 175220863) is the newest member of the Rabbit Warren, while Light Brown Bunny (Etsy Listing 73079287)  has been a member of the family for some time.

Isobel had run out of our normal safety backed eyes when MsLC requested they be made, but she has often made Baby Bunnies'  eyes from scratch before, so all five that she made this time around have pairs of eyes that are hand made with Brown Double Knit (DK) Yarn and then stitched into place with matching cotton thread.  They also all have their mouth/nostril combinations sewn in matching Brown DK Yarn.  Normally, all our eyes and noses have been embroidered with Black DK Yarn.  All the remaining Four Russet Brown Baby Bunnies have now been listed in our shop at - No: 175220863

 Meanwhile,  I suggested that we should let you see how we arrange a ColdhamCuddlies Catwalk Show - when Customers order a Cuddly, and we have more than one of them in stock.  Modern technology enables one to do so much more than you used to be able to - or so I am told:  as a mere Bear (albeit a Beaver Lamb Bear!), I wouldn't know one way or the other.

In the case of the Russet Bunnies, Isobel lined them up on top of the Printer in her office.  She put a coloured base to show them off well, and then a somewhat crudely hand made number label was placed in front of each Bunny.

Then they are turned around, and the same label is applied to the appropriate bunny, so that the Buyer can see what they each look like from their respective rears.

Then we try to give our customer the chance to see what they look like from one side

Then come photographs of them two at a time, with the left hand pair shown first, and followed by the second pair.

The pictures  are then cropped, so that they really stand out for the Customer to make his/her choice and Isobel e-mails them - and waits for their decision.  When received, the successful selection is taken out of the Warren and put aside to be wrapped up and sent to their Forever Home.

I know Isobel often says she finds it impossible to make a Cuddly EXACTLY the same each time - and I think this last photograph - with all four Russett Brown Baby Bunnies facing the camera, minus their labels - illustrates it pretty well.  Despite all Cuddlies being made in an identical way, using the same fabrics and other materials, and from their individual patterns, there is always some difference in every one of us!

We've had an exciting week, which will be the subject of our next post early next week.  That's the way it is we're finding in this world of blogging world:  one can go for some time without really having anything of import to tell you folks:  and then at least two items of interest need to be incorporated into a post, and by the time we do post next, there may even be a third!   I'll leave that one to Isobel, I think - although she may change her mind and let me tell you all about it.  Whatever - we're both very excited at what has happened.

Until then - lovely to be back again talking to you all!  Cy Bear.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Welcome to 2014 - New Activities and a Farewell.

It's some time since Cy Bear and I have been posting on the blog:  blame it on Christmas and the fact that the sewing room had to revert to its proper use - as a bedroom, so that daughter Philippa could sleep there.  The bed occupies one whole side of the "second bedroom" in this apartment at The Hospital of St. John, and blocks access to the cupboard where all my fabrics are stashed.  Yes - I could get there if really needed, but the hassle of moving the bed, remaking it again so Philippa could get a night's sleep etc. et al  .....  so, for 10 days, no sewing got attended to.  Withdrawal symptoms were beginning to set in!

There was also Christmas and all its attendant goodies to be prepared, enjoyed and finished as well so it was not until Sunday that things returned to "normal" chez nous.  Cy Bear is now ready to take up his duties as Coldham Cuddlies' mascot, co-author of this blog and general over-seer of my activities, and I'm desperately trying to get on top of all the administration required for the Shop ( and for all the Teams that I have somehow joined since the beginning last year (9 in all, although not all at once - and some have been left during the year as well).

Just before Christmas though, an order was received from MsEA who wanted one of our Baby Koalas (Etsy Listing #551901188) to be sent to a friend in Fruita, Colorado.

 Now even with my hazy knowledge of the geography of the United States, I realised that there was no way that the package would be able to reach its destination before Christmas - the last guaranteed date for that within the UK was on the day the order was received.  So, it was decided that Koala would begin his journey the very first post immediately after Christmas (Friday, December 27) - just so that he wouldn't get tangled up with all the international Christmas Mail that was by then in full swing. Thus, the night before, this farewell shot was taken and Koala, wrapped up in chemical free tissue and bubble wrap, was placed - together with an explanatory letter about the postal arrangements that had been agreed - into a polythene Air Mail envelope and all the requisite labels attached.  Cy Bear supervised - as is his wont - and the result was this picture:

Needless to say, the package is still en route as this post is being prepared - but, hopefully, it should not be too long before we get news of its safe arrival.

In the meantime, I've joined a new Team - the All Handmade By Me Team - about which I'd like to explain a little bit.  As the name implies, members are only allow to join if ALL  the items in their Shops are HANDMADE By Them.  It was set up in October last year by Stacey Sobelman of       because of her very real concern about a new direction in which seems to be heading, whereby Etsy shop owners can use outside manufacturing help, if required, for their Shops.  (Slightly truncated, but you get my meaning, especially if you read Stacey's comments quoted below):

All Handmade by ME is a moderated team with the following requirements:
Members of this team will receive a handmade stamp of approval and as such we require that they prove they are truly making their products themselves. This does not exclude traditional collaborative shops or family businesses.

Members must be devoted to selling only what they themselves have made. THIS MEANS THAT YOUR SHOP MUST CONTAIN ONLY HANDMADE ITEMS! Shops also selling vintage or pre-made items will not be allowed in this team. Members who do not comply with our values will be removed.

It should be noted that we rely on team members to be responsible sellers and to know copyright law and the issues surrounding licensed images, fonts and other merchandise. Therefore the team will not be held responsible for any violation of copyright law by an individual member, but that member may be removed from the team if found to be in conflict with this.

I can do no better than to quote from Stacey's description of the aims and objectives of the Team and because I do so agree with this statement I decided to join.

The sharp eyes of my Followers will doubtless of noticed an addition to the Blog Banner, as well as that on the Shop Banner.  The badge, designed by Stacey and offered  for a very reasonable fee, is one that all Team members are encouraged to highlight whenever, and wherever they operate.  The badge is offered in several coloured versions, and I ordered two - the green one below, and a Gold version, which is the Team Badge on Etsy.  Of the two, I think the Green one works best with the Coldham colours and banner:  but I have retained the other, just in case I need it for another background in the future.

The team has been successful beyond Stacey's original hope and now numbers 1,563, occupying 44 Etsy team pages!  In three months, that is going some, I am sure you will agree.  So, in a small way Coldham Cuddlies is standing up for the true artisan and hopefully all future customers will appreciate the fact that every single CUDDLY is HANDMADE BY ME!

I've just made four new Baby Bunnies - in a different colour - in response to a special plea from a Team Member from the Etsy AAA Support Team, which I shall be listing in a couple of days.  MsLC, lives in Blacksburg, Va and wanted one of our existing Light Brown Bunnies, as well as this new model, for her sister's baby - who arrived a little late, on December 31.  These two will be en route for the US tomorrow, but I still have one more to stuff and put together, so that four more Baby Bunnies can join the ever-growing Rabbit population in our Shop (  Pictures of Baby Boy and his new Forever Friends are promised when the introductions are completed.

Right - that's all for this first post for 2014.  It's a bit longer than usual - but it's been some time since I did a proper post!


Good night from both of us.  Isobel   and Cy Bear.