A couple of weeks ago an email dropped into my inbox asking if I would be able to make a soft toy nose preferably based on existing character that would sit on a large serving-size spoon for the Comic Relief Red Nose and Spoon Race. The race was to take place over 4 days in the Lake District and was between two teams led by Angellica Bell and Owain Wyn-Evans and the whole thing was being shown on The One Show on BBC1. The teams had to battle against the terrain and the weather as well as each other to complete the challenge whilst all the while carrying their Red Nose and Spoon and raise money for Comic Relief.
Photo by @patchdolan
The turnaround time was very short but I had scheduled a low-work week anyway as it was half term and to be honest by the second half of the week my boys were already a little bored of spending time with me. I couldn't resist it, the design brief was squarely in my wheelhouse as designing soft toy versions of customers brand characters and logos was how I trained as a soft toy designer in the first place. It was like stepping back in time!
For this year's Red Nose Day Comic Relief had 8 nose characters, 4 of which were available already as soft toys (although they were too large and lightweight to be suitable for the Spoon Race) and so I headed off to Sainsbury's to look at them and see which one would be most suitable for me to re-create in spoon-sitting-size.
Dash the little sloth-like one was the obvious choice and I had all of the fabrics in for me to get going straight away - and there wasn't time to waste.
The first sample was made and posted off to see how well it would work. It was a little on the large size and so I scaled the pattern down and made the second version. There wasn't any time to send this one off for checking and so after emailing pictures and a video clip over and Mike doing a small kitchen assault course to test it using our kitchen serving spoon (I had the challenge spoon dimensions and they were a reasonable size-match) we had to go ahead.
I made 10 Noses in all sewing into the small hours so that we could drop them in the Lakes the following day.
(I promise NEVER to torture my customers by designing a Two Owls pattern that includes any tiny super-curved pieces like those eye patches!)
In fact I didn't get all of the hand-finishing done in time before we had to set off and so I spent the journey to Ambleside embroidering little smiles onto all of the faces and ladder-stitching the openings in the backs of each one closed. FYI I wouldn't necessarily recommend hand-sewing in a moving car.
I would really have loved to get a few photos of the Noses sitting in front of a lake etc but it was the drizzliest, greyest day possible. We had to put a doubled-up blanket down on a bench so that we could sit down without getting soaked.
Jobs like this don't come in very often and it was one of the most fun things I've done in a long while. It ticked all of the boxes:
- It was a challenging design trying to get not only the right look but the right size and shape too so that it worked for the race. With more time I would have experimented with the positioning and weight of the bean-bag that was inside the toy. It needed the beans to give it some weight so that a gust of wind could't carry it off the spoon but it it could have done with being a fraction less-stable on the spoon to add a little more jeopardy as there were time penalties for every time the team dropped their Nose.
- Carrying out a project that was for Comic Relief, a charity that helps so many people was a real privilege.
- And lastly I'd be lying if I said that seeing the Noses on tv on The One Show didn't give me a kick! And I was delighted to see how well the Nose rolled when Owain dropped it going downhill!