Sunday, 20 January 2013

How Edward Bear became a New Bear - Part I

Cy Bear, in his post here last week (Newly Listed Bears looking for their Forever Homes -January 16, 2013) mentioned, Edward Bear.  He has been a Patient (in all senses of the word) in the Stuffed Animal Restoration Clinic (Etsy Listing #79124185) for some weeks now,  with his treatment beginning with the indignity of having to be taken to pieces and de-stuffed.

However, Edward had suffered some even greater  indignities before this all began.  We lost one of his original ears!  In order to obtain the nearest match to his existing mohair coat (in pretty good condition for a Bear nearing his century in years), we had to send an ear (the smallest piece) to the supplier.  Alas, the first one got lost in the early Christmas post mayhem  - and has not be heard of since.  (The Complaints Procedure insisted upon by UK Royal Mail yielded no answers) so the second ear had to be dispatched (this time by Registered Post) which left poor Edward looking like this.

(When informed of this mishap, RevJS enquired as to whether a ransom demand had yet been received). It will also explain the delay between Edward's arrival in the Clinic and his therapy being started!  The Wagstaff Bears' treatment, with their need for a Christmas deadline, plus Christmas itself were additional contributing factors.

Losing his ears was actually not too much of a problem, as I don't use them when restoring a bear like Edward.  But, it was definitely inconvenient! The second one did not leave us, though, until I had created a template for use in his future renovation.   However, the really good thing you can see from this photograph is that Edward's fur has not been badly lost to the constant cuddles of past generations, so the pieces were definitely worth preserving when the restoration process was begun.

 Alas the same could not be said for his facial features - there was even a patch on the left side of his muzzle.  They had got badly rubbed and he had no eyes. What you see in the picture are actually two very large hat pins (the property of the Grandmother of Edward's Forever Friend).  These had been pushed in, and had somehow remained static through the years.  They came out very readily when the stuffing was removed and I shudder to think what could have happened had he been played with by any Little People.  However, as it happened, Edward had been residing in the Grandmother's home for many decades until his Forever Friend, Rev.JaneS returned home after retiring as a missionary in Pakistan  two years' ago, and the two were reunited once more.  RevJS, as I shall refer to her henceforth, and I met at the first MacMillan Cancer Coffee Morning the Cuddlies appeared at in 2011, but it was not until October last year that Edward and I were introduced and the decision taken to restore and renovate him.

The picture also show that somehow his feet got a lot of undue unwanted attentionOne leg as a result was shorter than the other and I suspected - from the feel of his body - that he was stuffed with wood-chippings (which are a particular bug-bear of mine - forgive the partial pun!)  They do not provide a cuddly toy, and are thoroughly inflammable into the bargain.    I also suspected that there could be the left-overs of a broken growler lodged within his body, not to mention some good old-fashioned cotter-pins holding the limbs in place.  The suspicions proved to be accurate -

The hat pins are in the fore-ground!
The wood chipping stuffing came from his head and one arm, and the broken growler is at the back of the picture on the left.  All these have been disposed of - with the exception of the hat-pins.  They will be offered back to RevJS - in case there may be a future requirement for such equipment on her part.

All the pieces of  Edward Bear were collected together and one can now see the signs of his age.  The seams are definitely fraying, there are holes were the cotter pins were located and I've labelled the front body "A" and the back "B", so that when it comes to sewing him back together again, there is no confusion.  His legs are in the left foreground, the head pieces are in the middle at the back and his arms lie behind his legs.

They were all then taken to the bath and left for about a couple of hours, so that the dust of decades could be removed.  He was soaked in  luke-warm, soapy water (not detergent).

These three photos show how the dust began to come away, with the last one showing the mixture of dye and dust that was left behind when I had gently rubbed each piece, before it was immersed in two lots of  clear water to remove any remaining detritus.

Once rinsed, each piece was stretched back into shape and then pinned onto a clothes airer and left overnight to dry.  They were then pressed flat with an iron, prior to my drawing around each piece on the new mohair which would result in the modern, renovated Edward Bear.

That process will form the next post, so I will bid you all a very good night.  Isobel