Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Me? A Stuffed Toy Repair Specialist?

Emergency !!!  Emergency !!!  Broken bear found !!!

Here in the Philippines, rag dolls proliferated for many years since the 70's.  Sometimes these special friends have been loved to the point that oftentimes, they need a little extra care or repair.  Their 'stuffing' is no longer fluffy or soft, may be missing an eye, nose or limb, or ripped by pets and rough play.

Through the years, Philippine soft toy designs have evolved.  Thanks to the influence of our American and European friends whose hearts were captured by the famous Teddy bears and other stuffed animals.  And up to now we enjoy different varieties of toys, there's just too many to choose from! But even so, the same problems continue to beset Pinoy kids:  a bear's broken neck, a ripped ear, another limb of their toy detached from its 'main' body!

Such is what I saw when I visited my brother in Concepcion, Marikina.
With expert sewing and mending skills I've developed through years of constant toy making and the availability of  modern materials and replacement parts, their broken teddy bear and ripped stuffed horse were carefully restored.  I can never forget the smile on my nephew's face as he saw his beautiful toy revived to its original state.   From then on, every time someone approaches me for repair, I see to it that the toy is treated with the utmost care, because I understand how some toys are irreplaceable and repairing them for our loved ones is a rewarding endeavor that brings us great pleasure.  

Monday, April 9, 2012

What You Need To Start This Hobby

Ever wondered who started it all?

The origin of the Teddy Bear concerns a German soft toy manufacturer, Margarete Steiff, who at a young age was stricken with Polio. One day Margarete Steiff made a tiny elephant which she would let her little visitors play with. Since toys were very rare back then and the children loved playing with them, Margarete's mother began giving her orders for copies of the elephant as well as other toy animals. As time went by she started to train other women to help her and eventually set up a small factory.  

Here's what I promised, the list of Tools and Equipment to begin your stuffed toy making.

Tools & Equipment:

·         A clean work table, Formica-lined if possible 
·         2 pairs of scissors
·         Assorted colors of nylon thread
·         Assorted sizes of needles
·         A nap metal brush
·         A rubber mallet
·         A metal mallet block
·         A plastic or wood stick
·         A magnet
·         A puncher

     Raw Materials:

·         Pieces of cardboard or used folders
·         Ball point pens
·         Paste or glue
·         Fasteners

      Specific Raw Materials (per toy design)

  • ·   Plush fabrics (assorted colors and fur lengths)
  • ·     Plastic spangles (plastic eyes and plastic noses)
  • ·     Open weave polyester fiber (white, Class A/supersoft)
          Note:  A box containing all of these, with patterns and instruction manuals for 5 projects, is available upon request for a very affordable price.     
                         You may e-mail your request at ronwaldobraganza@gmail.com.

Come Join Me As I Walk Back . . .

If you love stuffed toys
and would like to make your own at home,
then welcome to the wonderful world
of soft toy making !

I began making stuffed toys for my nieces and nephews back in 1992.  They became so popular among their friends and classmates.  My room was taken over by my soft toys collections and orders from the entire neighborhood kept pouring in I have to mass produce in 1994!

Pretty soon, my collections of toys were noticed by  friends and friends of friends.  They encouraged me to submit samples to big manufacturers.  I did. Sure enough, I was hired as a Product Developer in a stuffed toy factory in Muntinlupa City.  Among my creations were Smiley Hang Toys, Moose, my version of Tarsier and a lot more.

Remember when I told you I was surprised to find sewing machines back in our workplace at CITC?  Because I was afraid to use them.  Being mechanical, electrical and all that...the thought of me operating those machines made me shiver down my spine.  I'm an accident freak and so I'm always afraid whenever things, gadgets (that could inflict or injure) which I'm unfamiliar with were presented to me to utilize.

Thank heavens,  hand-sewing techniques will do for beginners in soft toy making.

So, I invite you dear readers to come and join me as I recount my early beginnings in this wonderful craft that tickled my imagination, brought me so much joy and plumbed the depths of my passion to create beautiful toys for all ages.

Are you ready?

Let's go !

First, let's take a look at the Workplace.

Be sure to have a suitable working space with proper ventilation and free from noise and other disturbances such as noisy kids, roaming pets and, of course, the TV set!  One must be focused because the entire stuffed toy making process requires concentration.

On my next post, the Tools & Equipment and specific Raw Materials used in stuffed toy making will be discussed.

I Fell In Love With Stuffed Toy Making

Stuffed toys - plush buddies sewn to perfection.  Made to depict both common and rare species of living creatures for the delight of young and old alike.

Soft toys encourage play, which is an essential part of a child’s exploration of the world.  But above all, a cuddly toy is a gift bringing both comfort and joy to its happy owner, likewise, satisfaction and pleasure to its happy maker.

It is for these reasons that I indulged myself into this craft.  Pretty soon, I discovered why a lot of people these days consider soft toy making, a rewarding activity and a profitable craft.

How It all Began

I started my journey in soft toy making back in 1992, when I discovered Cottage Industry Technology Center.  Located at #20 Russet St., SSS Village, Marikina City, I found it to be a perfect place for an enthusiast, craving to learn lots of crafts.  Formerly called NACIDA or the National Cottage Industry Development Authority, it is a hub for exporters as well as producers of different handicrafts.

My training will last for 5 days only.  For me, that's not enough to master this form of art.  But I was assured by my trainer, the very talented and patient, Mrs. Anita Dimatulac, that she always welcome students whenever they have questions regarding a certain pattern or procedure.

Each day, I was informed, that I'm supposed to finish one project.
The list of my projects goes:

Day 1 - Teddy Bear
Day 2 - Piggy
Day 3 - Monkey
Day 4 - Doggie
Day 5 - Bunny

I almost jump out of excitement!  But when the tour along the workplace began, my jaw nearly drop....Aghast!!! I saw sewing machines...!  And I don't have the slightest idea how to use them!

How I survived my 5-day training in stuffed toy making?  Watch out for my next post.  There,  I will describe in detail what I have learned during my training.