Tuesday, 31 August 2010

anyone know how to make puppets?

I've been having some fun recently repairing some puppets.

One of our students has some ex-SU puppets and has been using them for children's talks in church, much to everyone's delight. Only when they appeared for the first time a few months ago they were held together with enough gaffa tape to make a sound-techie jealous. They were first admitted to hospital a while ago for mouth reconstructions and they have returned this week for eye-jobs.

This has been quite a challenge. You can see here how age has wearied them...

The first difficulty was getting off the old eyes without pulling holes in the fabric. To do this I used a hot glue gun without any glue in it. This melted the existing glue and I was able to prize apart the layers of fabric.

Then I had to remove the eye-lid fabric without damaging it, as I would need to use the same fabric on the new eyes. This I was able to do, again with the hot but glue-less glue gun.

We ordered some ping-pong balls on the internet and I cut them in half and painted them, guided by a template cut from the best of the old eyes. Then I recovered the eyes (just one pair)...

...and glued them back on. Here is one happy chappy!

But now I have a problem. The new ping-pong balls are slightly larger than the old ones. This is making it difficult to use the remaining old eye-lid fabric, just as it is, to recover the eyes. There is enough fabric to fold them differently so they will fit but this brings to the outside some old blobs of glue that are still in the fabric, which doesn't look great. I can't work out how to get the glue out. I can't use an iron (not enough power) and turps didn't work at all (although it worked on some blobs of glue from the glue gun, so I suspect the old glue is something different).

I would also like the new eyes to shine like the old ones. Any suggestions? Keep in mind that I can't pop down to the local hardware store.

So here are my questions,
  1. how do you get glue out of fabric?
  2. how would you make the eyes (ping-pong balls painted with acrylic paint) shine?


Anonymous said...

Hi Rach,
Could you use clear nail polish or some other sort of lacquer to make the eyes shine?

Julie x

Anonymous said...

The puppets look great, by the way!!


Rachael said...

Yeah I considered nail polish. I wondered if that is what was used to paint the originals as they don't have brush marks, either. I don't have any on hand... so will have to wait until I can get into town (which won't be for a while). I've never looked for nail polish so I'm not sure whether it's readily available, or what sorts there would be.

Anonymous said...

Not being one to let a craft dilemma pass me by! ........

The glue in the fabric - normally I'd say put a sheet of brown paper, brown paper bag, greaseproof paper or butchers paper on top of the fabric and then iron over the paper - the idea is that the heat of the iron melts the glue and the paper soaks it up, so you could use any sort of plain paper that doesn't have a waxy, plastic coating or ink print on it - maybe even printer paper? Repeat with more paper, as many times as you need to absorb the glue.
But it sounds like you may not get enough heat from the iron to melt the glue.

Shiny eyes - do you have some PVA glue - the sort that dries clear and shiny? I think just a couple of thin coats might give a shine to the eyes.


Rachael said...

I found a similar technique with an iron and paper towel on the internet, and had planned to use it (I did have a plan before I jumped into things) only since then 1) the big generator stopped working and we were only running on a small generator in the evenings and I was reluctant to use an iron at all and then 2) the past few nights we've had NO generator at all which means we are running on SOLAR ONLY and irons are basically out of the question.

So until the situation with the generators is sorted out, I can't use an iron! It's holidays here at the moment so most people are away and I don't expect it will be sorted until everyone returns.

PVA is a good idea for shine, thanks.

Mum said...

A coat of clear estapol might also give your eyes a shine. And you could try nail polish remover or meths on the glue.