"If any creature tells you that it hungers,
If it tells you that it is dirty,
If it cries to you that it hurts,
if you can,
ease its pain."
--"Instructions," Neil Gaiman [what to do if you find yourself in a fairy tale]
(text, and video of NG reading poem)
The way I see stuffed-animal repair is:
the creature that is dirty is the stuffed animal;
the creature that hurts is the human who has, or wants, or makes, or repairs a stuffed animal.
I'm thrilled that bink asked me to help her clean and repair Pinky & Snoopy, her earliest toys.
They're fragile--and stinky; bink has stored them in the safe, dry dark for years.
We opened them up and discovered their crumbled foam stuffing was giving off a weird petroleum odor.
We turned them inside-out to remove the nasty stuff, some of which had deteriorated to a sawdust–like consistency.
Then we soaked them for 30 minutes in Woolite, with a few gentle swishes.
Now they're drying. You can see they're stained and faded, but they feel and smell fresh and clean. bink and I are going shopping today for fabric to repair rips on Pinky's face--otherwise we will not replace their worn fabric. (They'll be restuffed with polyester puff.)
In the little research I've done, I see a difference among stuffed-animal repair:
Do you repair them (wash, restuff, and mend),
or do you restore them (actually replace old fabric with new)?
I am firmly in the repair camp--restoration creates a new animal and erases the marks of age.
If the animal is fragile, I'd prefer to make clothes to help hold them together rather than a new pelt. Snoopy's blue hair is shedding, for instance, so we're going to make him a coat.
Part II, to come---now HERE.
My title's "sweet rag and stuffing shop" is an allusion to W. B. Yeats's line "the foul rag and bone shop of the heart"
--from his poem "The Circus Animal's Desertion", which could almost be about old stuffed animals:
Maybe at last, being but a broken man,
I must be satisfied with my heart, although
Winter and summer till old age began
My circus animals were all on show,
Those stilted boys, that burnished chariot,
Lion and woman and the Lord knows what.