Pelham Puppets

Pelham Puppets

Welcome to another one of my videos. Today we are going to be looking at
Pelham style puppets A few years ago I found a puppet
on youtube..PATSY HOOLAHAN. And if you haven’t found Patsy Hoolahan
Go check her out. She is in the link below Now, Patsy Hoolahan is a Pelham Puppet
Pelham Puppets were a line of puppets A company in England that were producing
as long as I have been alive, way back in the 60’s, and now Mr Pelham
has died and the company I don’t think is producing any more.
So those puppets which were usually string puppets, are now collection items.
They produced about 9 million of these for the toy market around the world
and one of the lines they did were ventriloquist puppets.
Now, someone very kindly sent me this puppet here. He is quite spectacular
really, because he is a collectors item. and he has quite a history actually.
He went from England to the United States from the States to Peru and he lived for
a few decades in Peru before going back to the States, retiring
in Seattle, and then from Seattle to Texas and from Texas down here to Colombia
back in South America again. So he has had quite a history.
Now, these Pelham puppets have this little mouth that works with
a mechanism. They are made of a kind of plastic, I think from what I
found out on the internet was a gelatin with a powder in it to make this
and they were molded. So they are very precise, So I thought I would make
a replica of these puppets and so I went through a process and managed to do
this sort of replica here and here is another one. So that I could
also do a few of them. So I thought I would go through
the technique or the process that I went through to take the mold of
this and to come up with this final thing. This is paper mache and I will show you
how to do that. First we will take the replica,
without damaging our precious heirloom type collectors item. Now obviously I couldn’t damage the puppet
at all. I could not take off the hair or anything. I couldn’t use plaster
nor gelatine, so how was I going to take a mold of that? Well, I resorted to
paper mache. I put some paper on without any glue to start with so that no
glue will touch the puppet’s skin at all Then with very carefully, strategically
on the edge of that put a little bit of glue and another piece of paper,
and then I could put another piece of paper around, wrap it around, sometimes
without even glueing and then get a piece with some glue
and put that over the joint, so that I could cover the puppet with a layer
of paper where no glue was going to touch the face to make any damage.
So that I could build up Layer of that and then I did a second layer to at least
get the shape of the puppet’s face. So I came out with the mold the inverse
mold here, the negative, and then I took the shape of the head
in cardboard from a cardboard box and was able to reinforce it while it was
on the face so that when taking that thin layer off, it would not distort.
You will notice here I wasn’t able to get where the hair and the cap was
but we could basically guess where those shapes were. Similarly with
the back of the head because it was with hair and the cap and everything
I sort of guessed. I did what I could on the back of the ears to the hair
and then basically guessed the rest according to the shape of it. So that
I eventually got a paper mache cardboard mold of at least the rough size and shape. So the next task was to make a plasticine
replica. I squished out and flattened that plasticine really thin
so it was quite moldable so that when I push it into the mold it’s not going to
distort the paper mache mold, yet still take its form. Now, because
it is very thin, we need to make it a bit thicker so it will maintain
its shape, so we get some other bits and squish them out thinner
and build up the layers until its about a half an inch thick, so that it will hold
its shape, and then take it out. So the final result of that was something
like this. Now obviously it had little lines and cracks and stuff but then
that was something that I could then clean up so that it was looking pretty
much like the other. Also making sure that the back half was going to line up
`as a solid piece. Next, was to take the plaster mold of that
and I have painted it just to protect it a little bit more. So that we get the
negative of that in there. Took the plaster mold, and there we
have it, and the same with the back. Now, the next step is to take some
paper, your old receipts and brochures that come through the door
and liquidate them. Then with a sieve,you are going to
strain the water off. Now having lubricated or sealed this
with some petroleum jelly,oil, wax, grease whatever sealant so that that won’t
stick, I am going to get that stuff and put some in there. Initially about a centimetre’s worth which is what?
half an inch into all of the crevices. Then we are going to get an old rag
an absorbent one and then absorb a whole bunch of that water
that’s in there, compressing it to the side without displacing it.
And then wring that out to get rid of some and continue until that is semi dry.
And if you have any doubts about the strength of it or removing it
from the mold, it is a good idea to put some threads on there. Just lay them in
and then next layer put some more on top to secure them there,
Now as this dries it will shrink quite a bit and become a lot thinner
so I want to build up it a bit more. While it is still damp, you can keep
adding` layers until you have got the thickness that you want, and the thickness
that I want is basically maybe this thick. Well, depending on your model of course.
Now, I am using no glue but because of the pulp itself just like an egg carton
when it is wet and as it dries out the fibres will bind together if it is
nicely compressed. Now you notice there is water still
coming out of that. I want to basically absorb it until there is no more water
coming out and it won’t compress any more Using another cloth, so that you can now
mold it and shape it to the thickness and hopefully nicely compressed with no
give in it and no water seeping. and that will give you quite a solid
egg carton strength shell. and when you have finally sucked out
as much water as you can with your cloths set it aside to dry for a few days until
it is rock solid. After a few days these should have
hardened up nice and hard like egg cartons, pull away from the
sides a little bit and then you should be able to remove it quite successfully.
As well as the back side as well. so that they will go together. So now I am just going to take some
wood glue, some PVA, and glue the two halves together.
Any gaps can be plugged with some a little bit of paper mache,
and run some glue over that and spatula it down so it fills the crack
with the excess joint. Now, the original head was all molded
it had a mouth hole here molded into the head and a mouthpiece that was
molded hollow. It has a pivot point here and a string and a spring would come off
the top of it and you can use a rubber band but the spring lasts longer and
better of course, and that gives tension for it to keep it closed. When you
pull the string here on the bottom of the mouth piece it pivots, opening the mouth
The string goes up and over a pole that goes through the head acts as
a pulley point and then down to the hand mechanism on the stick.
So you pull the string it will open it then the spring will close it.
We don’t have those materials so we are going to make a mouth box
out of ply. Thin three ply, and the mouth out of a piece of wood.
And the rest will be the strings But first we will put this pole
through the head as the pulley point. So I am going to take a dowel
nicely sanded smooth so it doesn’t wear the strings through when it is pulled
Make a hole above the ear on the joint and pass it through
To a hole on the opposite side just above the ear.
Now, in this case I am going to use a piece of wood about 2 inches
wide by one, and it is going to go in there and be like the mouth but it’s
going to be a bit shorter so that means that the box will have to be more or less
a little bit like that wide and the sides will be roughly
that wide by that deep. Now, the sides are going to have a
pivot point and therefore it’s going to pivot there and be sort of triangular
like that Now, the mouth box will also have a
little bit of a curve of the mouth there of the face line.
Now, I have measured each of those outside dimensions so that I can put that
on there mark this one, mark the thickness of that one and then mark about thirds
of that to then cut away this central piece of this one and the outside
bits of that to make a tab that is going to fit into there. Sort of like
a dovetail joint on each of those corners and with a knife or a chisel you can
cut that out. So there it is there. The mouth block
I am going to do a hinge hole drilling in from both sides of the block.
This side and from the other Go right through. So a hinge wire can go right through. Now I will do the two hinge holes on
each side of the box. So there it is within the box, and now I need to cut it
off around that profile and sideways and rasp it round.
So I have rasped it around and filed it a bit to make it look a little
bit like a lip. I am going to make a hole through here
just slightly forward of the axle hole I am going to put a little piece of wire
through here with some long nosed pliers put a loop on the end, then bend it over
so it is going to be sort of poking out like that.
Then on the other side another one. Cut it off first. And that is what I am going to attach
the spring and the string to. So the spring is going to go on here
and continually hold it shut and the other one, the string will pull up to open it. So when the mouth box is installed here
and if anything goes wrong like you need to replace the string or the spring
or anything you have access through the back here, to those two hooks
you’ll have one for the string and the front one is the one for the spring.
so hopefully you will have access through the back of the head here. So, I have attached my spring and if you
need a piece of string or something to then and a hook or something to attach
it to the back there to give it enough spring and the string goes up and over
this pole here and down, it will go down through the neck and that should
work fine like that. I will trim those off and just glue them
in place. I will also glue around here and fill
with mache just to smooth that off. For the neck I am going to get
a broom handle and put a hole down the centre but on a diagonal
so it comes out somewhere down here. I could leave that just as it is and feed
the string through, but I like to line it with a tube, a piece of poythene
tube or in this case a plastic straw. Just so that the string slips through
without chafing. Hook the string through
with a piece of wire. and then you will feed the straw
through the hole and you are going to glue the head on the end of that pole.
It pays to use little strips of paper to glue and mache that neck onto the head
just to make sure it doesn’t break off. Now we are going to seal it with some glue
In this case cornstarch paint glue. Then we are going to be doing a lot of
sanding and painting. Lots of coats of paint and lots of sanding
depending on how smooth and shiny you want it. Here we have a couple heads painted
and now we need to make the mechanism. to make that mouth open and close.
on the pole below, I drilled a hole through and made a coat hanger wire
lever with a string attached to it so that when that is pulled down makes
the mouth work. The original wire was also from the
broomstick looking down it had a hole here a hole here and it came out around
like this back and into the broom here. with the string attached here.
And that would go up and down. Pretty much like this.
This is the mouth that we did in this video, but the original mouths
had the pivot point a little bit further out so that they can open
like this. This is preferable. The point here is in the mouth hole there
in stead of making the mouth piece going in here,in stead of having my hole here
the original is down here so that it pivots out this way
a bit better. That being the mouth. On the originals down here on the neck
It also had a disk a cardboard or wooden disk so that when you put the
cloths and tie them there that the cloths would not fall down. So There basically we have it,
and now we just need some cloths for a body, yup. and there we have
Pelham Puppets. Salutations to Patsy, hey Patsy Hoolahan.

8 thoughts on “Pelham Puppets

  1. Oh nice, another good craft video phillip, with another "technique" for the paper mache. Not seen that drying process before. Renewed my patreon subscription, pity I missed the 1st of feb but march should come fine.

    Hope all is well,

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