I remember the war years.. and recycling

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I remember the war years.. and recycling

Postby Chris » 30 Nov 2017, 17:43

Actually I don't, but my late partner, Eric Bramall, as a boy started building his first puppets during the war years and often told me how scarce were materials and resources. He recalled that little was wasted and most things were recycled. He said carving wood was impossible to buy so the only chance of getting hold of seasoned wood was from old furniture or perhaps look out for old gate posts being replaced. When he died, 50 years after the end of the war, I found a couple of logs of fruit wood under his bench, layed down when green and set aside for use when seasoned.
He also told me how lucky I was to be able to pop along to a ironmongers (hardware shops which are now largely extinct) and buy a vast assortment of adhesives, nails and screws and fittings. In the war years even the basics were in short supply. I remember when I was a boy screws were never thrown away and even old nails were carefully extracted and straightened if bent and carefully stored for re-use.
Eric said that screw eyes, especially small sizes, were impossible to find and it was a few years before they came on the market again. Now screw eyes are essential for marionette making and so puppeteers had to make their own. This whole reminisence was triggered by my finding yesterday in an old box of mixed screw eyes two that were obvious examples of his work. They have apparently started out as two brass screws with their heads sawn off. The shank has been hammered out, flat and wide enough to drill a hole of a size to take the linen carpet thread which was used for marionette strings. Since there are a minimum of eleven stringing points on one puppet quite a few hours must have been spent in just fashioning the screw eyes.
I thought you might like to see them:

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Re: I remember the war years.. and recycling

Postby Andrew Clarkson » 02 Dec 2017, 13:15

This is fantastic! How different times are now.
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Re: I remember the war years.. and recycling

Postby Chris Richard » 03 Dec 2017, 01:52

Jim Henson's original Kermit was made from an old coat that had been discarded by Henson's mother. Some of my first puppets were recycled socks, old buttons, and remnants from my mother's big bag of fabric scraps.

The ingenuity of those screw eyes is remarkable. Thanks for sharing that story.
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Re: I remember the war years.. and recycling

Postby Miraiker » 14 Dec 2017, 11:20

What a great picture, thank you Chris. Eric must have been very pleased to see them in the shops when they finally appeared.

I am really glad to be able to buy whatever fixings I need and I find myself observing people at work just in case they use something I can put to another use. Working in a museum I found two men fixing some Tudor wooden panels to a wall using these:

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I now use them lots.
Who'd want a proper job?
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