Sunday, 26 February 2017

Latest News about Puffin - having departed the UK, and homeward bound.

Hello Everyone!  

Cy Bear once again - a little disappointed not to be able to share the news with you that Puffin has finally reached home in Warwick, Rhode Island - but that,  I am given to understand - is one of  "THE THINGS" about doing business internationally.  Once one has posted an item, one is then in the hands of "THE SYSTEM" - or, as in this case, SYSTEMS.  Not only international postal services, but also the route through each country's Customs Services. 

However, as Puffin was dispatched by Royal Mail's Tracked and Signed For Large Packet service last Monday morning, Isobel has just checked where he's at and can report that he "cleared US Customs at 5.22 February 23, 2017."  according to the  USPS (US Postal Service) Tracking page, and was last heard of "inbound out of Customs".  That probably means he didn't get going towards Rhode Island until sometime Friday, 24th February.  With the week-end looming, that should, with luck, mean he will be arriving home on Monday or Tuesday of the upcoming week - depending on when the local Postie gets around to NR's home in Warwick, RI.  (Let's hope there will be someone at home to sign for the package!)

This is me sitting beside the package which Isobel was just going to put into her shopping bag to take to our local post office last Monday.  I'm waving to NR and his Family, as well as saying "Good Bye" to Puffin.

So, while I could show you what Puffin now looks like, as I explained last week, I think it's only right that NR and his Family see him first, so you'll just have to wait to see the final New Look until next week.  However, Isobel did take some photos of the Traveller before he left us, so - because we don't like to NOT post a bulletin every Sunday - here is what happened to Puffin before he left us last Monday morning.

Once all the usual paperwork involved in sending a COLDHAM CUDDLIES Toy or Patient to their destination had been completed, an envelope was prepared - with the destination address on both sides. (That's in the hope that it speeds up any journey - people don't have to turn a package around to find the address, if it's on BOTH sides!)   Any international postal item being sent to the United States and anywhere other than the European Union, has to have a Customs Declaration Form completed.  (You can see it at the bottom of the package in the photograph above.  Basically, it says what's in the package - in this case a "restored soft toy";  then there's the weight of the package, value of the package and finally at the bottom of the form, Isobel's signature.)

Then Puffin was wrapped up in chemical free tissue paper - looking like this:

You may be able to see a Red "Fragile" label under the "Mail Bag" at the top left hand corner of the package. I know, Puffin is a soft toy, and not normally classed as a "breakable" object.  However,  Isobel always puts such a label on any parcel leaving us - because of how she has seen the postal authorities handle the goods that pass through their offices!  They THROW stuff into big post bags, and she doesn't like the idea of any COLDHAMCUDDLIES Toy or Patient being hurt!!!

After the tissue paper, Puffin got wrapped in bubble wrap - just to make sure that he had an extra covering to shield him for the journey across the Atlantic Ocean. 

The fully wrapped Puffin was then popped into the envelope, his travel documents (otherwise known as a "Delivery Note/Invoice") were put in as well, and the envelope sealed.  Puffin then travelled by 'bus to the Post Office, and his "ticket" purchased.  Upon her return, Isobel notified MrJR that Puffin was on his way home.  At least, we've now learned he got to America BEFORE something called "Storm Doris" reached the UK on Thursday - because the USPS Tracking information tells us that the parcel arrived in ISC NEW YORK NY(USPS)   at 4.14 am on 21st February!

So that's all we can tell you for now.   Hopefully next time we're together (next Sunday), we can show you Puffin as he now looks, together with a photo or two of Puffin (Dry Run) and him before the wrapping process took place.

Until then - have a great week:  hope you're not all blown to bits, as we are getting a lot of high winds, and are being promised a lot of heavy rain, thunder, and even snow, for the first few days of the coming week.

Bye for now - 

Your Friend, Cy Bear.

Sunday, 19 February 2017

PuffinR's Treatment - Part 3: He can go home on Monday

Greetings Everyone!

Cy Bear back again, now that Isobel has completed her duties in the ColdhamCuddlies Soft Toy Animal Restoration Clinic (  She can't be attending to patients AND type here simultaneously!

Good News folks - PuffinR is now ready to depart the UK. after a slight delay in departure.  We had hoped to send him homewards on Friday, but Isobel was away from the flat that morning, with a trip into Nottingham, which lasted longer than she'd expected - so everything got put back a bit.  Puffin R was almost completed that evening, but because she was tiring, and didn't want to make a mistake in the final stages, she emailed DadR to tell him that Puffin would be en route first thing Monday instead.  (The initial order actually set a dispatch date of 24th February, so we're still well within the deadline, but we had wanted to get the Bird back to Forever Friend, NR, as fast as possible - but not so fast that things went wrong at the last minute!)  

Photographs have been taken of PuffinR's treatment, and some of them will be shared here - with the final stages shown next week - because, obviously we want PuffinR's Family to see him in his new guise, before showing him off to all of you - our Great Followers.

This is what we've now termed PuffinR-Dry Run version.  He looked quite perky when this photograph was taken at the end of last week, but since then, because Isobel was experimenting with the amount of stuffing that might be required to achieve a "soft" feel, we think he actually hasn't had enough to keep him going for any length of time.  When compared with the final version of PuffinR (who will revert to his more familiar name when he is packed and ready to go - so will be called Puffin when we talk about him next week) it's now obvious he needs to get some more stuffing in him.  This will happen before the PuffinDR gets listed as our newest addition to the Shop (

Now, I'll hand over to Isobel, who can give you a better commentary on how things have progressed over this last week.

Hi Everyone - good to be able to report on a successful outcome for our latest Patient. 

Proceedings began, obviously,  with cutting out a brand new set of pieces using the template I'd created last week for the Dry Run version of PuffinR.  Here is the Body Front, his two eyes and the new beak - seen from the wrong side.

You can see that his feet have been attached to the front of the body, and the shadowy fabric you can see is actually PuffinR's original front since it was taken to pieces at the beginning of this exercise. Here it is lightly tacked and in such a way that when the stuffing was added at the end of the sewing, the tacking could be removed without disturbing the new piece of fabric.  (To try and ensure that all PuffinR's bits and pieces - feet, wings, tail and neck - hold together longer, I've not only tacked them in, but sewn each seam with blanket stitch ending up with a REALLY firm seam.)

Here are the same pieces, shown on the right side of each pattern piece, but before I'd done the blanket stitch edge to each foot!

I then tacked the original pieces (or as much as I felt would survive the exercise - which meant trimming the old seams really) and tacked each original Puffin piece to its equivalent new pattern piece.  So, the body front (top left) has the base sewn on it, the head is almost together, with eyes attached to the forehead and back of the head.  The bottom two pieces are the back of the lower body.  All have their equivalent "original Puffin" pieces tacked on (wrong side to wrong side) using a contrasting coloured thread - to make removing the tacking easier when required.  (Doing it that way means there is less stuffing required, because the original fabric's pile is doing part of that job).

The body front and head have been turned right side out in this photo, and wait for the original tacking to be removed.  The lower two back pieces are still shown on their wrong sides. and wait for the centre back seam to be sewn together.

Then all PuffinR's peripheral pieces needed to be sewn and fitted to the body in the appropriate places.  Here's the tail and two wings, and the beak, while the head needed sewing together at the front neck, and the body had it's final side sewn together.  

When making PuffinDR, Isobel wondred whether she should stuff the body and head separately and then sew the two pieces together at the neck area.  In the end, it was easier for her to first sew the back of the neck - from wing to wing along the neck seam (finished off with the blanket stitch used for the other peripheral pieces).  There was then a convenient gap in the front through which she could push the stuffing and shape the body and head separately.   Then she was able to close the neck (in the region of the throat) and sew the remaining gap using ladder stitch, which is what she uses most of the time when making all us Cuddlies.  (This smaller seam does not have the blanket stitch finish - it's not possible to achieve it once the entire body is fully stuffed - the ladder stitch is a pretty tight finish in any case).

You can see the wings and tail in situ here, and under the tail I've stitched back a label - which had a series of numbers on it.  Don't suppose that NR will notice this detail, but in fact when he arrived PuffinR had 2 labels under his tail.  One of them probably had the original maker's name on it, but that had disappeared and I didn't see the point of replacing a label with nothing printed on it. 

 (PuffinDR has a label sewn under HIS tail now - which is the ColdhamCuddlies label which goes on all the Cuddlies made for our Shop. He has been listed today -

 - leading the list of entries to the February FriendsRUs Team Heart Attack session, which is currently under way as this blog is prepared for publication on Sunday afternoon.   I drafted it on Saturday evening, so that I could participate in the monthly Heart Attack and do the blog post - almost simultaneously!

We have taken some more pictures of the final stages of  PuffinR's treatment process  - as well as photos of Puffin fully completed.  But, as we've shared our posts with NR (and FamilyR) as the therapy progressed, I'll wait until next week (or even until I've received confirmation of Puffin's safe arrival in Warwick, Rhode Island) before posting the final bulletin regarding the latest Patient in our Clinic.

This has been a really fun exercise - and Cy Bear and I will miss this Little Bird when he leaves us. Farewell pics will,  of course,  also be taken - and be shown here in the next bulletin.  Now, it's off to give PuffinDR some more stuffing and shape, take said photographs, and then get down to some much needed administration for the Shop - which had to be set aside (happily, I hasten to add!) when PuffinR arrived 3 weeks ago.

Until next week then, 

Your Friends - Cy Bear and Isobel

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Puffin R - Part 2: Progress Report on His Restoration Therapy.

Good afternoon Everybody:

Cy Bear starting off this week's bulletin - because ever since I chatted with you last week,  it has become obvious that some of the statements made in introducing PuffinR were a little wide of the mark.  Not intentional you understand,  but discovered during the course of Isobel's attention during last week.

First of all, I did say that PuffinR's feet could be re-used:  when they were taken apart, it was found that the stuffing that was still attached was really all that was holding the limbs together.  Isobel decided that he would end up with two new feet, because the fabric initially used for his feet was too damaged to work with new stuffing.  (You can see some of that stuffing in the right foot, still attached to the original body).

Having taken PuffinR apart, Isobel got to work on the template, which has served her well.  She had hoped to be able to get PuffinR completed and on his way to Rhode Island by the end of this week: however "life" intervened with other distractions during the week.   Plus there were some hiccups in Isobel's working with the New Toy,  and it looks as though PuffinR's journey will now begin towards the end of next week,  That is still well before the beginning of March - which contains an important date: NR's, PuffinR's Forever Friend, Birthday.

Progress has been made, however - and I'm now going to hand over to Isobel, who can explain things better - as she's been doing the work!

Hello there Folks!

I'm glad to report that PuffinR is gradually returning to life - but will look different.  However much I try, because of different fabrics involved - the fleece he was originally made with, and the fleeces available here in the UK - do look and feel different.  He's going to still be very cuddly and friendly for NR, but to begin with he will be different, inevitably.

Here's how he's looking:

The new look feet are in place, and PuffinR's Base is almost sewn in - a gap has been left at one of the corners where his Front and Back meet the Base - so that the stuffing can be put in at the appropriate time.  (When it comes to the stuffing, it may still go in at the top (or neck area):  in which case, the gap at the Base will be closed up - obviously!)

The gap doesn't show in the photograph above (showing the Toy inside out), because it's nearer the tail than the front.  That tail is in place as can be seen below:

His two Wings are pinned in place, and will be sewn in properly when the Head is completed.  That's been a bit tricky, because I'd kind of forgotten the order in which I had dis-assembled PuffinR.  However, that difficulty has now been overcome, and the Head should be sewn together and stuffed by the end of play, tonight (Sunday).

Currently, the Beak is ready to be attached to the Head - but I've not yet decided if that will be when the head has been attached to the body, or whether it will be sewn in place before that important seam is created.  Meanwhile, here is a photograph of the Front of the Head with the darts yet to be sewn in. This is also how the finished beak currently looks:

It doesn't look right yet, because the back of the head has yet to be sewn together, but at least you can see what the new beak looks like - unstuffed.

As PuffinR arrived without any eyes, I have selected a couple of options I have in stock  - shown below.   I'm going to show DadR and NR, so they can choose which one is most like the ones they recall PuffinR originally had.  Currently they're shown with the white cheek as a background.  The finished eye will have a black felt background in the middle of the white fleece pieces shown above, and the eye will be in the middle of that addition.  (I can just decipher the shape the felt should be from one of the original cheeks, and propose to trace it and then cut it out in cardboard for a template - to join the rest of the template pieces.)

The eyes are currently not fixed - but one can see the difference between them.

 If DadR and the NR's extended family and friends read this post (we did get a comment from one of them on Cy Bear's bulletin last week), I'm hoping I'll get a comment quickly as to which one they'd like me to fit.  Otherwise, I'll email the pics to DadR  and hopefully get an answer back early in the week, so that PuffinR can be completed.

Those of you who read last week's blog will recall that I had said his original pieces would be a tacked on the inside of each piece before it was stuffed.  While working on PuffinR this week, I decided to actually make a "dry run" - which is what is pictured here.  It gives me an idea as to the best way to go in creating the New Look PuffinR.  (That will then become the new addition to our Toy Shop -

The second version, still to be cut out, will have those original pieces tacked in place, as Cy Bear described.  It will result, not only in PuffinR being the same size as this model, but he could actually take a little less stuffing.

(Which reminds me:  when I send the photograph of the eyes, I'll need to ascertain if PuffinR in his original state was a "firm" stuffed toy, or a "lightly stuffed toy").  Some of these "mass-produced" toys, as I suspect PuffinR to have been, can be very wobbly indeed, and if NR is to "take" to the new version, I want to make sure that I don't add to the newness of his cherished Forever Friend by making him too firm.  The polyester fibre I use meets all international safety standards, and does eventually "relax",  with time and cuddles, but I really do want to ease the introductory process as much as feasible)

Next week, Cy Bear and I will bring you all up to date - with, hopefully, a Farewell Picture of the two new Friends before PuffinR is sent on his way back HOME to Warwick, Rhode Island, New York, U.S.A.

Good Bye for now - hope everyone has a terrific week, and that Spring will be here soon!  The weather has been particularly nasty this week, although warmer times are said to be on their way.


Saturday, 4 February 2017

PuffinR, our Newest Patent in the Clinic, prepares for his treatment.

Hello Everyone:  

Cy Bear here to tell you about PuffinR, (as he has been registered) normally a resident of Warwick, Rhode Island, New York, U.S.A - but now registered as our latest Patient in the COLDHAMCUDDLIES Stuffed Toy Animal Restoration Clinic (

Puffin R upon arrival after a 6 day journey from the USA

So that we could prepare PuffinR's perch in the Clinic, Isobel asked for  some background information about this unfortunate bird.  He has been the Forever Friend, since his first birthday, of NR, who is now 4 years old, (with an upcoming March birthday).  PuffinR is a Boy Bird, although for a short period - after NR's sister arrived in 2015 - he was a girl.  He's a popular member of the family, and is described by DadR as "always being a silly bird"!  PuffinR is also sad that "the dog was mean to him - but "everyone has learned the lesson that it is necessary to keep stuffies off the floor when dogs are around"!

So that he didn't feel hungry as he set out on this "Puffin adventure of a lifetime", NR suggested that he travel with a lollipop - which you can see in the arrival picture.  Upon arrival, Isobel suggested to DadR that PuffinR must have slept all the way through the journey, since the lollipop had been untouched.  We then reassured PuffinR's Family that he was in safe hands by sending this photo of him and me (and the lollipop!)

Sitting on a chair in our Living Room.

You can see that the lollipop is still untouched.  Between you and me, I don't really think that lollipop's are Bear food, so I suspect that the item will be returning to the USA once PuffinR's treatment is completed.  I think that will go down well with NR - who when told about the intact candy (the American for a sweet - the word used over on this side of the Atlantic Ocean) said to his Dad that "Puffin must be saving it for him"!  

For the information of our Followers, here is the "low-down" on poor PuffinR's current state of health (or not, as the case may be):

He's really not got a functioning beak:  that  will have to be totally rebuilt.
His two feet have been ripped away from his body, but remain intact.  Isobel will try to fix  them to the new body, because they are usable.
His entire front (chest) will have to be replaced, because there are holes around each side, as well as those visible in the photo above.
He no longer has any eyes.  Two more will be needed.
The stuffing you see attached to his feet, is all that is now left - after the Dog's attentions, and PuffinR having had a bath prior to his travel across the Atlantic Ocean.

His right wing (which you can sort of see in this photo) is pretty intact, and will be used to provide the template for both wings when the new PuffinR is created.
His left wing (sticking out at the back of this photo)  must have been used by the dog to both pull the Toy apart, as well as shake it, as it has been stretched completely out of place, as you can see from the picture below.  It's almost the length of the whole existing body.  Both will need replacement.

The first step for Isobel is to take PuffinR apart and find how he's made!  She can then create a cardboard template so that she can cut out the replacement pieces to put PuffinR back together again.

As I said earlier, PuffinR has already had a bath (DadR confirmed that this had taken place, because the thought of a travelling Puffin toy in a package smelling strongly of Dog "was not a palatable one"!).  So, once PuffinR is in pieces, and the replacement pattern created, we plan to tack the original pieces to their matching sections using the new material,  before sewing the body together.  He will then be re-stuffed.  Once the final PuffinR has been created, the tacking will be removed (as the original toy pieces will be held in place by the stuffing).

Previous experience when we've been restoring our Patients is that PuffinR may well end up slightly bigger than he is at the moment.  Isobel was surprised at how small he is actually - we'd got the idea from the original photos that he was a much bigger toy than he is.  He's about the same size as one of our Baby Koalas - see below

Mind you, this Koala is fully stuffed:  I'll measure them when PuffinR is restored

Having said that,  DadR says that "though Puffin was never a large bird, the size of his personality fills the room".

While awaiting PuffinR's arrival, Isobel did some research with the two main on-line fabric suppliers we use and asked for swatches so that matching could take place as quickly as possible.  Some have have arrived, but on inspection, not all are as good a match as we are seeking.  (One does have  to allow for differences in fabric manufacture and dyes used - so an absolute match is not going to be possible.  Also colours pictured on the internet also can be misleading).

Since PuffinR arrived though, we've established that he is made with fleece, so on Saturday morning, Isobel decided to take PuffinR with her on a reconnaisance trip to a haberdashery outlet in Mansfield, the nearest big Town to us here in Kirkby in Ashfield, and has successfully matched all the colours, in the usual fleece fabrics available to us, that we need to achieve PuffinR's "New Look."  On the basis of "getting it when you see it", quarter metre pieces of all the colours have been purchased - to be put into use early next week.  We now wait for Isobel to undertake PuffinR's recovery operation, by creating the new template to put him together.

The exception will be the feet, which could have been replaced with felt, if need be - but as I mentioned earlier, PuffinR's existing feet will actually be usable, and will become the only pieces to be visible of the original Toy. However, we are delighted that none of the original PuffinR will be discarded, but will form the basis of each piece of the restored body.

What Isobel will be using later this week in PuffinR's re-creation

(Quarter metre is the smallest length we could purchase for this exercise, so there's going to be fabric left over.  Afterwards, we hope we'll be able to make some versions of  our own PuffinR's as we think they'll make great additions to our Plush Bird Toy collection. This will be done using the template Isobel hopes to create to restore PuffinR.  Excitingly, the lemon fleece we found is a better colour-match for PuffinR's beak - and, additionally, currently unavailable from our two internet sources.   The leftover material can be used to make some suitable Easter Chicks and Duck Toys, something Isobel had been considering as additional Coldham Cuddlies for 2017).

PuffinR's family will be sent a copy of each post from this blog while he is being treated.  DadR's last comment this week to Isobel indicates that much of their  "extended family is quite entertained by this entire endeavor. I think they'll be excited about the blog as well, so I hope to bring you some new readers.  (We both look forward to welcoming them to our existing Band of Followers!)

Cy Bear, by all means, should share in Puffin's largesse. It's not often a patient arrives with a present."  (Isobel had said that she'd "try to keep my paws off the lollipop while Puffin is being treated"  - I'm feeling a bit offended by that!  As if I would!)

So, I'll end this report from our Toy Restoration Clinic - with the wish that you all have a great week.  In the interim, I shall ponder DadR's remark about "Puffin's largesse".......

Your Friend, Cy Bear