Coldham Cuddlies

Of all the regrets I have (and trust me when I say there are many), my biggest regret is not cherishing every single moment that I had with my grandmother. I loved my grandmother, and I spent a lot of time with her. Just, as a child, you don’t really grasp the fragile state of life, the ebb and flow of it. Now at 33, with two miscarriages behind me and two beautiful healthy children next to me, I am fully aware of the siren song that life emits. I pay close attention these days. It only goes around once.

When I ran across Isobell’s shop, Coldham Cuddlies, I knew before I even looked at her items that I wanted to interview her. The era of life that her youth represents fascinates me. I always take the opportunity to learn from those who knew the world before technology allowed us to discover it, to uncover it. Sometimes I wish we had let that blanket lie.

Ah, the midnight hour causes me to wax poetic, as I sit here in my grandmother’s chair. On with the interview!

I'm sorry if you mind my asking, but I have got to know: How young are you?

Chronologically, I'm 70 years and almost 6 months. However, most days, I feel about 60-ish. Making the Cuddlies is keeping me young, and it's a great excuse to dress toys. (One might say I'm reverting to childhood.)

What do you remember most about growing up in the post-war era?

The day sweet-rationing ended. I was at boarding school the other side of the country from where home was (school was in Bath, Somerset: it's now in North East Somerset and not far from where we now live. Home was in North Norfolk). It was half-term, I was among the few who didn't travel home for the holiday, and we were allowed out to spend our pocket money! Boy did we have a good time!

Other, more practical things, like we did not have a car, the TV only got connected in Norfolk just before the Queen's Coronation and we only got our first one in 1962! Golly the things we now take for granted: amazing really what has happened in that time, isn’t it?

You've had quite a busy month so far. How long does it take you to complete a cuddly?

Depends on the size and model. The big Teddies can take me up to 10 days (I only really work in the evenings - if I sit in front of the television and don't have something in my hands, I'll nod off!) The Baby Rabbits I can sew a couple in an evening, and then take another evening stuffing and applying the facial features. The Lady toys take me about 4-5 evenings: the Men, being more complicated - anything unusual there? - take between 7-10.

Are you tackling all of this technology by yourself? Superb job either way!

Actually, yes I am: although a trained typist (began working in 1958 when one used to sit before an Imperial (or Ollivetti) "sit-up and beg" typewriter (electric typewriters did not arrive in my world until the mid 1960's). That's why I've got arthritic fingers and hands now! I did progress while in Canada, to becoming only the second person in my firm - then a Secretary for the Commonwealth Games Organisation when the 1978 Games were held in Edmonton - to be trained to use a Wang Word Processor - then it was experience on computers, as they got more poweful, until now.

Daughters are a great resource when I'm stuck, have a wonderful son-in-law who is a whiz with the computer programmes, but essentially all the Etsy stuff has been learned by "having a go", usually making a mess of things, and then finding my way out of it. As for digital photography - well I started off with a plain box camera, so it's all wonderfully new (except when things don't work out!) Technology is wonderful: except when it doesn't work!

After reviewing your shop, one last question: do y'all have a large coyote population over there?

Not a darn one, as far as I know. The coyotes are a figment of my imagination - mainly to entice you folks in the USA! In Western Canada, foxes don't exist, except in books. Coyotes do and I should imagine it's much the same over in the West of US, too. Don't think that there are many foxes in the East of US either, although I believe there may be some in New England? Sorry for my ignorance, but alas, during our 12 years the other side of the Atlantic, I never had the chance to travel across the border. Except for an After School Club a couple of miles from our home, called the Wylie Coyotes - one of my first Coyote efforts, Charlie Coyote, is their official mascot - I haven't heard of a "real" one over here. Chuck, listed on my ColdhamCuddlies site, is his replacement.

Do you have anything extra to add to the interview?

Just as an addition: my latest creation Coldham Yogi (Cy to his friends) cannot be sold. He is made of real fur - a cast off Beaver Lamb coat - and was an experiment on my part. However, apart from folks not being too partial to real fur items, the final seams on his arms and legs are not user-friendly and he's twice as heavy as a proper Coldham Cuddly. Although he's very cuddlesom, he'll stay here and has been appointed ColdhamCuddlies offical mascot. He is also co-writer of my new blog. He's pictured here, "climbing" a cherry tree in our garden here at The Hospital of St. John.

Don't you just love her!  Sending virtual hugs your way, Isobell!

You can stay in touch with Isobell through the following avenues:

My Space: Isobel [!at]
Facebook: pimstgabriel [!at]
twitter: pimstgabriele-mail: petis [!at] or pimstgabriel [!at] hotmail.comblog:

1 comment:

  1. How inspiring! Thanks you for helping me find this amazing, inspiring artist!


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