Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Tulip, Waiting (The Restoration of Tulip the Bear, Part I)

ABOVE: Tulip the Bear waits for reassembly. New hardware for movable joints is on order.

This teddy bear was described on ebay, "needs TLC".

When it arrived a few months ago, it was so nasty I regretted buying it, even for $8 ––that's low for an antique, jointed, golden-mohair teddy with glass eyes.

I don't know but I'm guessing this bear is pre-Great Depression, because of its original high quality--stuffed with fine wood shavings, called excelsior or wood wool (not with shredded cast-off cloth), movable joints, once-lovely mohair (
a fabric woven from Angora goat hair), and a growler inside. 
[article: "How to Find Out How Old a Teddy Is"]

A growler should really be called a mewler--it's a round box that makes a cow-like noise when you turn it up & down, causing it to expel air. This bear's growler was broken, but that's normal, after some ninety years.

"Before" photos of the bear are pointless; the worst of the nastiness wasn't visible.

The bear gave off an odor like the damp corner of a basement, it shed like a dog in spring, and in its fur were scabrous flecks--bug casings? You wouldn't want to touch this thing.

Wearing a mask, I unstuffed the bear. I put its skin in a box on the below-freezing porch and forgot about it.

When spring approached I thought, well, I can either throw this bear out, or I can try desperate measures. Edward's Care Home for Elderly Bears writes in "How to save a near-death teddy from the bin",  "at this point your bear is about to go in the bin so what the hell."

Desperate measures it was. I figured this could be my antique-bear-repair test case.

I'd hoped I could get around removing the industrial-strength cotter pins that held its joint discs by wrapping the whole joint paraphernalia in Saran wrap. >

I hand washed the bear in Biz--several times.
Water easily got past the plastic wrap and soaked the cardboard buffer-discs beyond hopes of drying.
The water turned orange and each rinse was full of fine hairs. Bear emerged pretty furless, but what fur was still attached, by gum it's going to stay attached.

I tried to straighten the cotter pins (below) to remove the discs. They were designed to resist sabotage, however, and finally I had to cut them off--wearing goggles to guard against flying bits of metal---who knew bear repair was so dangerous?
Once you take the joints off, there's nothing holding the arms and legs on, so now the bear was in parts, like a cut up chicken.  
Bear went out (in parts) to dry in the sun with the other newly washed toys. 
The new doll, Spring Green (below), kept watch.
Meanwhile I went online and ordered a couple sets of plastic bear joints--they snap on.

A funny (but predictable) thing happened when the clean and dry bear emerged--this horrible mess had gone from being a disposable test case to being an Alive Toy. One who needed a name.

I photographed the bear this afternoon in the neighbors' tulips that are just coming up. And so it's Tulip. Tulip the Bear. 

See also, Part II of Tulip's Restoration, and Part III, The Conclusion


Sandy Miller said...

Tulip is adores! Nice Bear CPR!! I had no idea you could even do that!! Amazing and thanks for posting!!

gz said...

She is all there..just needs connection!
The tlc will be worth it

Fresca said...

Hi there, you two potters!
Thanks for commenting---
I agree Tulip is adorbs and worth the work.

I've never tried such a complex repair before, so I had no idea I could do it either!
I'm glad I did--though there's more to come---Tulip's paw pads need replacing and her mouth sewn too...
She'll always be a thread-bare bear, but a lovable one, now she's not a stinky mess!

Bink said...

She is totally sweet! I’m glad you saved her. And the pictures of your process are very interesting.

Fresca said...

BINK: She is a sweetie.
I learned a lot looking at other people's photos of bear repair---I figure maybe someone will stumble on mine and find them helpful---or inspiring.