Burnt Giant Plush Squid
January 17, 2011 4:07 PM   Subscribe

Need advise on repair of burnt Giant Plush Squid. Through an accident our lovely plush squid was damaged, so I now am trying to figure out how to clean and repair the fellow...

So I've done the basic googling and haven't found anything exactly like what I'm going to try to do to fix our beloved squid. He's sort of a fixture in our living room so I'd like to attempt to make him slightly better looking despite the damage.

1) Cleaning off the burned areas...
I have no idea if this will change the (new post-burning) colors or is even necessary. Or worse, will it cause the burnt areas to disintegrate? (When pinched the dry fabric does not break, plush fur doesn't come off.) Have read plenty of websites suggesting hand washing with watered down detergent. Anyone ever try this? Will type of detergent matter? (I'm not going to use the washing machine - squid is not a good fit even if it was a good idea.)

2) Since the squid is discolored (and I hate the nasty brown/yellow spots) I figure the easiest way is to paint a similar spotted pattern on various places to camouflage the damage. Can anyone suggest any fabric paints that will leave the plush actually plush instead of making it crispy feeling/looking once painted? (I'm going with paint rather than sewing patches because I'm more familiar with using paint than I am good with the needle.) I've got a list of a few online fabric paint brands - but I'd like to go shopping with several more simply because I'd like a wide variety of colors (probably going with various soft reds and blacks, unless there's more variety out there). Last I used fabric paints there were mostly primary colors, so I'm assuming I'll be doing a lot of color mixing.

Flickr photos of the squid:
Full view
Tentacle close up
Eye/head close up

He's about 4 ft long from head to tentacle end, so it's not like the burns aren't noticeable. Sadly.

(Aside: Space heater and extension cord that were to blame for the burning have already had happy answers via previously posted AskMes and never again will we be silly enough to place a plush anything near an extension cord.)
posted by batgrlHG to Grab Bag (10 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
The problem with using fabric paint is that, in order to keep the fabric "plush," you'd have to individually coat each tiny fiber separately with paint. This seems like it would be extremely difficult or possibly impossible to do. A dye would add color without affecting texture, so that's a possibility if you want to randomly dye parts of the squid brown, though I've never tried to spot-dye something before (perhaps someone else can weigh in on that). But I think attempting to dye random brown spots over the entire stuffed animal stands a good chance of looking really (and irreversibly) terrible.

Someone who's extremely experienced might be able to bleach/dye the discolored parts to match the original color, but I have a feeling that would run you in the several hundred dollars range. (And I have no idea where to find such an expert.)

If I were you, I'd just make comically large band-aids out of felt and apply them to the burnt areas.
posted by enlarged to show texture at 4:33 PM on January 17, 2011 [8 favorites]

There is a fabric paint/dye called Dye-na-flow (they call it "liquid color") that you can airbrush onto the discolored areas. This video mentions that the end result is not "crispy". Caveat: I have used fabric paints in the past, but not this brand.
posted by prenominal at 5:01 PM on January 17, 2011

How does it smell? I'd think you'd need to gently hand-wash the squid in order to help remove some of the burnt smell.

The best fabric paint for not changing the texture too much would be a very thin one such as Dye-Na-Flow, made by Jacquard Products. Unlike some fabric paints, it's recommended by the manufacturer for both synthetic fibers and natural fibers, which is important since your squid is almost certainly made from synthetic fiber material. Dye-Na-Flow is available in thirty colors, though you may have to go the mail-order route if your local store doesn't carry them. Although it's much softer and thinner than most paints, you will probably be able to feel a slight difference where the paint has been applied.

Just like real dyes, fabric paint can only make colors darker, not lighter. It won't cover up the black spots at all. It can be used to darken the yellow spots, and it can be used to make dark spots on the rest of the squid to mimic the burnt patches.

I would not recommend that anyone, even a specialist, try to bleach any spots to a lighter color on this sort of material. It's very important to never try household bleach on synthetic fibers, because the hypochlorite in it can be very damaging to them. There are other dye-lightening chemicals that might work, but they require heat, which I'm sure you want to avoid, and there's a real risk of damage even with those.

I don't recommend that anyone try to dye a favorite plush toy with true dyes, because plush toys are usually made from polyester or acrylic, both of which can be dyed only by extensive boiling in a special polyester dye, or by making an iron-on transfer using the same sort of dyes. High heat is required to dye polyester, so it's more damaging than just running the toy through the washing machine would be.

The only fabric paint that will lighten the color would be an opaque fabric paint, such as Neopaque. Unfortunately, in order to be opaque, a fabric paint has to thickly coat the material, which means it will not be very soft. I don't think you'll want to try that.
posted by Ery at 5:06 PM on January 17, 2011

If it was my squid, I'd send him to the Hanna Bruce Teddy Bear Hospital. Having looked at the before and after photos, if they can repair a stuffed kitty that got run over by a lawn mower, I bet they can cure a little squid singe.
posted by mostlymartha at 5:19 PM on January 17, 2011 [10 favorites]

I think the squid looks bad-ass as is. Battle wounds with an electric lurkfish.

If you want him cleaned up, however, I'd use a gentle soap (woolite or similar), handwash, pat dry, and then brush with a soft brush after the fur is dry. This will take care of smell and char residue. Then two ideas: embroider on top of the charred areas (give him a tattoo? Or a heart?) or sew in a patch of some fabulous new plushie fabric, maybe like a green faux fur? I wouldn't try to match the original color, you can't do any better than close enough to look like there is something off about him, which isn't a great result.
posted by arnicae at 7:45 PM on January 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

What about finding an airbrush artist? Considering what they can do on ugly t shirts at the beach, I'd imagine you could find someone to do great mixed up colored spots on a squid. And I don't remember my awesome unicorn sunset t shirts being stiff when I was little. (Granted, they weren't fuzzy shirts.)
posted by artychoke at 8:23 PM on January 17, 2011

I think rather than trying to paint over the charred patches, I'd sew felt polka dots over them. For best results, put some dots where there aren't any burnt parts. Also, he definitely needs an eyepatch.
posted by specialagentwebb at 5:48 AM on January 18, 2011

What about putting cute little mini bandages over the burnt spots? He'd look badass, like he got in a fight.

I kind of like just leaving it. it's part of his history.
posted by custard heart at 8:15 AM on January 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

If it will stay together I like the idea of leaving the "scars."

On second thought, I like custard heart's idea better, sew on bandages. It will up its uniqueness and cuteness:)
posted by volition at 11:01 AM on January 18, 2011

It's not uncommon for giant plush squids to incur battle scars while on the high seas. I suggest this is the beginning of a new chapter in the life of your squid. Band aids make the most sense but I'm voting you overlay the burned parts with cybernetic implants.
posted by chairface at 1:21 PM on January 18, 2011

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