SPITTING IMAGE PUPPET
Mr Fry's puppet was sent to him by his previous owner and came to me for restoration. There was a large split to the mouth and the rest of the head was extremely crumbly and fragile due to the decaying foam. The texture is very similar to burnt toast covered in tissue paper, which means all work has to be carried out very carefully until the puppet has been stabilised.
Often with these puppets it appears as if there is only superficial damage but the problems run much deeper. The head was very rotten and had not been supported so it had distorted and set in a new position meaning it had to be very carefully stretched out, re-shaped and re-sculpted.
The mouth had to be repaired and reinforced internally and once the neck and the mouth were back into position, the whole of the inside of the head was reinforced. I then made a bespoke former to hold the head in place and prevent the head from sagging and putting strain on the mouth area.
The eyelid was rebuilt and the very fragile eyes were reinforced. Unfortunately due to the distortion of the foam the eyeballs no longer sat with the pupils showing. There was no safe way to move the eyes down so it was agreed that I would repaint the pupils further down the eyeball.
It was a painstaking process to rebuild these areas as it takes several layers of specialist materials which need to dry naturally and cannot be heated.
The foam deterioration is a chemical breakdown but by restoring the puppet I have preserved it for hopefully many more years. Left unattended would lead to faster deterioration.
As always, I restored Mr Fry's puppet to be sympathetic to it's authentic condition by maintaining the original features (where possible) the paint work and by ageing the restored areas appropriately.
I was thrilled to be able to deliver the puppet back to Mr Fry himself. It was an real honour to meet him.