Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Removing Fuzzballs from Felt Toys

If you read this blog regularly, you know I love felt. Nearly all of The Toy Cove's plushies are made from this wonderful material. It's eco-friendly, colorful, and versitile, but it does have a downside. It accumulates pills faster than any other fabric, making a young stuffie look old and worn out before its time.

New plushie on the left, played-with plushie on the right

 BUT, even this has an upside. It's extremely easy to remove fuzzballs and make your plushie look brand new again. It only takes a pair of scissors and a few minutes.

1. Start with a fuzzed-up stuffed animal.

Felt toys gather fuzzballs easily.

2. Hold him/her up to a light background to see the pills more clearly...

and snip off the pills.

3. For fuzzballs that are very close to the plushie's body, lie them flat against the light background.

You can cut very close to the body without worry, as long as you don't tilt your scissors downward and into the body. Just keep your scissors level and cut away.

In just a few minutes, your toy will look brand spanking new again:


New plushie on the left, new-looking plushie on the right.
And that's just one more reason I love working with felt. A pair of scissors, a few minutes' time, and you've got a completely refurbished plushie. You can repeat this process again and again and again. It's not so with furry plush animals, which either have their plush rubbed off or matted, and can't be fixed without a lot of effort*.

* (Of course, this doesn't really matter, and is nothing more than a cosmetic issue. As The Skin Horse said, "Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in your joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.")

The toys in this post can be found at The Toy Cove.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Plush Amazon Milk Frog

He's here! The darling Amazon Milk Frog plushie I've been working on. As soon as I became aware of these adorable little creatures, I knew I had to add one to The Toy Cove's frog collection.

Image from http://www.reptilegardens.com/
And here he is:

He's available for adoption via The Toy Cove on Etsy. As far as I can find, he's the only plush Amazon Milk Frog available online, so if you're looking for a truly unique gift for a science major or frog enthusiast, you've found it.

Like all of The Toy Cove's frogs, he's made from all new, US-made materials, including Eco-Fi rainbow felt.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Mama Dart Frog Revised

Following the suggestions from some fans/buyers, I decided to redesign Mama poison dart frog. A couple of people said her legs seemed too complicated, and that a smoother design (like the regular poison dart frogs) would be better.

Original Mama frog, with legs folded underneath.
Here's the new look:

What do you think?

Settling in

Well, the moment arrived a couple of weeks ago for this hermit crab to switch shells again. After hurriedly moving out of an unsafe living situation, I stayed in my parents' basement for a few months. I looked for a house to rent for a while, then finally decided to get another apartment. I ended up with a lovely, spacious, quiet place in a quiet part of town. All the toys seem very happy here.

Of course, relocating in the middle of April meant devoting far less time to The Toy Cove's buy 1, give 1 project. Now that the studio is set up again (minus the sewing machine table, which should be coming over later today), I'm diving back in, but I'm still not sure about whether or not to extend the April promotion into May. I feel like I want to give it a better chance.

I'll have more news and pictures later!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Plushies for Seniors

To elaborate a little on the reasoning behind The Toy Cove's current Buy 1 Give 1 promotion, I've compiled the following list of articles about senior citizens and plush toys.

This is a personal story that touches on the difficulty of seeing a loved one change due to dementia. The author is, at first, uncomfortable with the thought of giving her boyfriend, now suffering from Alzheimer's, a stuffed animal.
I immediately told myself I was crazy and that he'd feel insulted and become irate if I gave him a stuffed animal. But finally, on a whim and against my better judgment, I decided to buy one...
On the way to the nursing home, I kept wondering what a 92-year-old man was going to do with a stuffed animal that peeped. That former erudite scholar, lawyer, and professor of French? The man who'd had such a brilliant mind?
It's a touching, brief story that shows the importance of meeting a loved ones needs, no matter how they differ from our expectations and desires.

One important concern is addressed on this page of Best Alzheimer's Products, under the section "Demeaning or Dignifying?": 
Probably more than with any other recommendation for Alzheimer's care, the concern will be raised here about the appropriateness of using toys in treatment. This is understandable. No one likes to see a loved one regress into a childlike state. Unfortunately, that is what is happening.
The arguments in favor of toys as therapy center around the patient. It is our firm conviction that stage-appropriate activities, including toys, enhance the quality of life of persons with dementia.

This article from The State Journal is the story of how two sisters started Memorable Pets, stuffed toys designed specifically for people with Alzheimer's.

Caldonia [the stuffed cat] served as a source of comfort for Rusher’s mother, Betty Dickson, in the months before she died of Alzheimer’s in 2010. As her mother’s memory and motor skills deteriorated, her love for Caldonia never changed.

An article by Rebecca Rosenberg: Experts prescribe children's toys for Alzheimer's patients 
An aversion to the use of toys sometimes stems from the denial that a loved one has become like a child, said Gary Small, a psychiatrist at University of California at Los Angeles.
“A PET scan of a person with advanced Alzheimer’s and a young child’s brain looks very much the same,” he said. “People need to put it in perspective. If a patient is childlike, that’s what’s upsetting, but not the toys. If anything comforts the patient, that’s good.”

An older newspaper article from Beaver County Times (via Google), sharing the story of how Kathy Hall initiated "Fuzzy Therapy for Seniors."

I hope these stories explain why this project is so important to me. :)

Monday, April 1, 2013

Buy 1 Give 1

Hello plush lovers,

I'm really pleased to announce that for the month of April, The Toy Cove will be running a "buy one, give one" special on every single toy purchased.

It's a simple, wonderful concept that's far from new, but it's a first for the Cove. For all of April, when you purchase a toy through The Toy Cove, I'll send another toy to a child (or adult) in need. No matter where you buy (Etsy, Ebay, Goodsmiths, thetoycove.com, etc), you'll be getting one plushie for yourself and giving one to someone else who needs a friend.

Same price, double the love.

About a year and a half ago, when The Toy Cove was first starting up, I had the opportunity to give a Christmas gift to an anonymous local senior who had no family to care for her at Christmastime. She had requested, simply, "a stuffed animal." Plushies provide a sense of security and love in even the most stressful and frightening situations. Many charities already exist helping young children and senior citizens who can benefit from having a plush companion. Children who have been removed from their home, who live in war zones, or who have lost everything due to disaster are just some. To a senior living in a nursing home, a soft toy can be a much-needed companion.

"I have so many hugs to give!"
"I'll always be here to listen."

Some of my favorites charities (and the ones I'll be using) include:
SAFE: Stuffed Animals For Emergencies
Loving Hugs
Stories for Seniors

So spread the news! Treat yourself to a sweet plush pal, and help someone who's scared feel a little bit safer, and give someone lonely a faithful friend.

You can also like The Toy Cove on Facebook to keep up with this project.