My next project is still work in progress, but I wanted to share it with you. I am in the process of making dolls of figures in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). I want to highlight women and men who have made a mark in these fields, at the same time raise funds to support charities that have proven to be effective in helping people. I will choose the charity based on recommendations by groups like Give Well.
The dolls are made out of wool felt for the body and stuffed with wool. The face is hand embroidered and the hair is made by crocheting a mohair wig cap for each doll. The dolls do stand on their own but to make it nicer for display, I made a stand for each with one of their quotes and an image that relates to their work.
My latest project is a mascot plush for Barnardo's. Barnardo's is a leading children's charity, initially set up as a school by Dr. Thomas Barnardo back in 1867 to equip poor children with basic education and skills in trade. He went on to run homes for destitute children, with the philosophy "No Destitute Child Ever Refused Admission". While Barnardo's no longer run homes for orphans, they continue to help children and young people, including those who have been abused or have disabilities. Barnardo's offer counselling, fostering and adoption services, vocational training, among many other vital services. In addition to providing direct services to children and families, they also do original research based on their work and lobby the government in areas of advocacy, child poverty, fostering and adoption, etc. all to improve outcomes.
Another mascot plush! I made this mascot plush for Follow Your Dreams. They work to provide opportunities for young people with learning disabilities to encourage them to follow their dreams. They do this by providing workshops and supporting meet ups for these young people and their families.
I first heard about Theodora Children's Charity on BBC Radio 4. Their professional performers visit hospitals, hospices, and specialist care centres throughout England to provide opportunities for play and laughter. The charity was founded in 1994 in memory of Theodora Poulie, and today have 25 performers that visit over 30 000 children per year.
I made a hand puppet for them based on one of their colourful characters, Dr. Yo-Ho.
Remember Henry the Hound? Henry was a mascot plush I made for Haven House Children's Hospice. In addition to the mascot plush, I had agreed to make a plush for the winner of their Summer art contest, which was held in July. Children paid 50p to participate (which was to raise money for art supplies for art therapy services provided by the hospice) and the winner was chosen by the hospice. The winning drawing was Buttons.
Have you heard of sensory books? I don't think it's well known in the wider community, perhaps more familiar to families with children who are keen to aid sensory development. I first heard about sensory books when I came across Bag Books. Sensory books involve using sensory stimuli in conjunction with storytelling by including props that accompany the book which can be touched, smelled, heard, etc, so that it becomes a multi-sensory experience rather than simply a narrative. It's more engaging for the audience and appears to be particularly beneficial for people with sensory processing difficulties, profound disabilities, or dementia.
This is my first sensory plush. Ta-da! I designed and handmade it for Joanna Grace of The Sensory Project. It's a ladybug, with details to stimulate the senses. I stuck with red, white and black. The wings have black circle patches, all out of different types of fabric, including boiled wool, cotton velvet, linen cotton mix, etc. The wings are held down with a bit of velcro and when opened up, reveal layers of various netting materials and maribou feather. I stitched on circles of different fabric on some layers of the netting with glow in the dark or fluorescent thread. Under that is the body made out of dimpled plush fabric.
The bottom is made out of fleece, with pockets for the legs. I embroidered the golden ratio motif on the pockets for the front legs and added tiny patches of PVC with beads underneath to the pockets for the back legs. Pompom trim and ribbon tabs surround the leg pockets.
The front legs have crinkle material inside, the middle legs have hard granules that feel pebbly, and the back legs have soft granules that feel a bit fatty. The antenna are 100% wool balls sewn onto fleece tubes.
To add weight, the body has several sewn fleece pouches of pellet filling along with polyester toy filling. For sound, the head has a squeaker inside and the body has a tweet column. You can experience some of the visual and auditory aspects of the ladybug in the video below.
I entered a picture of my elephant plush into the Rare Artist contest. If you would be so kind to vote for it, you can click HERE. Thank you for your support!
Finally finished with the display plush for Noah's Ark! Along with Haven House and Demelza, Noah's Ark Children's Hospice provides end of life care for children in London. To find out more about the important services they provide, have a look at their website.
It's taken awhile. The base is high density foam covered in felted wool.It was my first time wet felting and I think I may have been too timid with the soap water mixture. Next time, I will use hotter water and also put in more soap. I put 2tsp of wool soap shavings in 1.5L of warm water. It wasn't a complete disaster; the wool did lock in place enough that it stayed on the foam but I think there is room for improvement.
I made the boat out of wool felt, and put in a cardboard piece in the base to stabilise the shape. The sides were filled with polyester toy filling, and the boy, girl, and the giraffe house I've shared before.
This project turned out more similar to the logo than Henry the hound for Haven House, so I'm happy about that!
I came to learn about Haven House while reading about various hospice care facilities available to children in London. Haven House offers a wide range of services to families of children with life limiting conditions, including respite care, music therapy, physiotherapy, a toy loan service, to name just a few. Their Community Fundraiser, Matt Charlton, was kind enough to show me around the hospice last month.
The facility is based in The White House, a manor house with expansive grounds. The White House has a rich history prior to being leased to the Haven House Foundation. There are even trees planted by Sir Winston Churchill and Mrs Margaret Thatcher. Since refurbishment, there are five beds, a craft room, a sensory room, a special outdoor play area, etc to cater to children and their families. They have a clubhouse specifically for siblings, a wheelchair swing, as well as a trampoline that is built into the ground (which I was very much tempted to have a wee jump on!).
I was happy to get involved with Haven House Children's Hospice to make a plush of their mascot, Henry the Hound. They have a fur suit version you can see below the images of the plush I made out of mohair and ultrasuede. In the end, it turned out to be more of an artist bear project rather than a plush. It's fully jointed with cotter pins and filled with woodwool excelsior and polyester toy filling. The eyes were kindly provided by irideEyes, which offers a wide selection of eyes and noses for teddy bears and soft toys . The t-shirt is made out of wool felt.
I was a bit too keen to try using the traditional way of making teddy bears on Henry, which distracted me from keeping aesthetically in line with the original. I think regular polyester plush fabric would have turned out more similar to the fur suit.
If you want to find out more about Haven House or want to get involved, click here!