Swazzle hygiene

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Swazzle hygiene

Postby Priscilla » 23 May 2007, 00:50

This is my first appearance here in the booth. In my real (?) life, I'm a full-time storyteller and puppeteer. Normally I use puppets in between stories, without a stage, though I have a few stage shows as well. At any rate, I got a bee in my bonnet about doing a Punch and Judy show a while ago--this is currently more of a hobby for me, so please be gentle with your advice.

I've been building the puppets, working up a script, practicing my swazzle technique.

That brings me to the question: how do you keep the swazzle from getting too disgusting? From time to time I drop it in some mouthwash so it doesn't taste awful. How many swazzles do you have on hand? Do you change the tape often?

To make my swazzle, I used a piece of twill tape and metal from a cookie cutter. It was thin enough to cut with scissors so I could round the edges nicely. I also experimented with a plastic cutting board, the very thin kind. Worked okay, but the metal was better. This was after I bought one on e-bay--I needed to see it to understand exactly how it worked. The one I bought online was too big for my mouth.

Thanks for your advice.

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Postby Chris » 23 May 2007, 23:29

For goodness sake don't just use any metal for your swazzle. Stick to silver, gold or plastic to be safe.

I change my tape every five years, whether it needs it or not. Other performers claim to be continually wearing out their tape and re-winding their swazzles.

Maybe mine last longer because I keep them wet all the time. I have three or four on the go, and keep them in a small watertight plastic tub (smallest food container?) always immersed in water.
When I get home after a show I empty the water, pour on mouthwash (medical, not fluoride fresh breath type) I put the lid on, shake vigorously, pour off the mouthwash, replace with water, repeat, repeat until water stops foaming and remains clear.)
Every month or so I give the swazzles a treat with a bath in Milton (baby-bottle sterilizing liquid). But this must be a short immersion, and you must thoroughly rinse afterwards or the tape will rot.

Most profs will tell you to dry out your swazzles between use. I can only counter by stating that my method has had a good 30 years testing, and I very rarely have to replace tape. And when I do rewind it is usually because the swazzle has lost its curve and lost tone, rather than the tape having worn out.

It's good to squawk!
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Postby lesclarke » 23 May 2007, 23:37

I always just used to rinse them in tap water, which in Uk contains chlorine etc, and then add tiny amount of mouthwash, then allowed them to dry out.

About 8(?) months ago I asked for advice on smelly swazzles after having had problems and wondering if it was due to the prolonged hot weather we had last year.

Chris suggested using Milton liquid - as used to sterilise baby items, and keeping the swazzles stored wet rather than allowing them to dry out. This has worked very well with no repeat of the problem.

Follow the instructions, only tiny amounts are needed, and metal containers must be avoided - so if adding to the wet container it really must be a tiny amount. Really smally screw top platic containers are available from camping shops to carry the swazzles in.

As a final precaution, after 3 newish swazzles going mouldy last year, I realised that at the end of the day the used swazzles may well sit around in hot weather in the small container for several hours while packing and travelling home, so I now take another bigger plastic container along, with water and tiny amount of Milton to carry them home, so even if I forget to rinse them out they will be OK.
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