The 'hand-over.'

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The 'hand-over.'

Postby lesclarke » 20 Jan 2009, 16:07

I've just retired my much-loved Wal Kent Joey, (before he gets too worn) and he has 'handed-over' to his replacement, a slightly modified, repainted, new hair and re-costumed Bryan Clarke carving.

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The simple inauguration ceremony took place today at 2.30pm on my kitchen work surface, but attracted little media attention.
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Postby David Wilde » 20 Jan 2009, 21:03

To save him getting any more worn Les,just put him in the post to me and I will give him a loveing home!!
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Postby lesclarke » 20 Jan 2009, 21:51

Thanks for that very kind offer David, but there's a space already reserved for him with my other 'retired' figures in my old booth.
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Re: The 'hand-over.'

Postby Tony James » 21 Jan 2009, 02:45

lesclarke wrote:I've just retired my much-loved Wal Kent Joey, (before he gets too worn) and he has 'handed-over' to his replacement, a slightly modified, repainted, new hair and re-costumed Bryan Clarke carving.



Les - I can't blow up the picture to see but your original Joey doesn't look at all worn to my eyes. What is the problem? The head isn't splitting is it?

None of my Tickner figures nor any of the others are showing much in the way of wear to the wood and I have used many of them for over 35 years.(How long? Thirty five years! Was that Round the Horn? Dates me!!)

Punch's hands have worn slightly ovalish but nothing to make a fuss about.

I'm just curious as I embark on a redressing of Punch and two others. Stripping down can be quite revealing. It's that time of year again.
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Postby lesclarke » 21 Jan 2009, 14:42

The figure is still in fairly nice condition Tony, the basic (looks like the original) white head paint could last a fair while longer, but the red paint could do with touching -up, but basically the sleeves are wearing rather thin.

The costume is lined and the wear is from the outside, probably the result of repeating the same actions show after show - in that he lifts a suitcase off the playboard.

His hair has lasted very well, and overall he could probably have carried on for another season or even two, but I regretted carrying on with my WK Punch for and extra couple of seasons, again the main wear was in the arms.

Overall I feel my figures wear well, and are at their most vulnerable to damage during a show when dropped. I always wrap them (in the sleeves of old fleece jackets) and pack them to avoid wood to wood contact during transit.

I still haven't developed my own sewing skills, so must rely on others, this time with my new Joey costume my seamstress thought it would look far better, more realistic, if the arms were angled downwards - as on a real human figure. Unfortunately, when placed vertical, the human hand has the operating fingers (arms) pointing upwards. It was my fault for not briefing well, and it was solved by putting a tuck in the arms.
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Postby Nick Jackson » 10 Feb 2009, 00:10

Quick query, Les.

I've heard you mention "retiring" puppets a few times. And I was wondering why.

I'm very friendly with the Llandudno Codmans and they're using dolls which date back to the 1860s.

Are you terribly hard on your chaps?
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Postby lesclarke » 10 Feb 2009, 00:53

I've 'retired' three figures Nick. When I acquired the two Wal Kent figures Punch and Joey were in very good, original condition. I reckoned they were late 1940s, and had possibly been used for a couple of seasons or so, and had not been repainted.

I used the Punch for about five busy years before there were real signs of wear, and he needed an overhaul, but I felt that 'something' would be lost ,so I decided he deserved a retirement, and this would preserve a record of his original condition, and I could still ocassionally enjoy using him.

A replacement was made from an old Bryan Clarke head but it took another year before I could bring myself to switch. Joey has lasted a further couple of years until he too require an overhaul, so I made the same decision.

The third figure, a Quisto, smaller sized Policeman also needed an overhaul, I have always been especially fond of him, and I couldn't bring myself to repainting him, so he was retired and his replacement was made from a surplus Quisto Devil, which was a near identical carving.

I think that old figures should be used, but it's also nice to hang onto some of the original condition.
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Postby Tony James » 10 Feb 2009, 11:59

I understand what you're doing Les and why. There can be no substitute for the original artwork, no matter how closely you try to replicate it, as I do with mine.

Nick - the Codman figures must have been repainted and redressed many, many times. How long do theirs last between refurbishments?

My Punch has paintwork maintained and touched in whenever there is paint loss and that goes for all my other figures. Major overhauls depend on wear. Right now Punch is being redressed and the old dress has worked three years. That's the longest I can expect though sometimes I don't have to replace absolutely everything.

Trouser legs wear across the front from rubbing across the inside edge of the playboard but the hat and hump remain good and can be retained.

At the same time, the arms and coat front wears from stick action and there are occasions when it's more economic timewise to replace the lot rather than go to the expense of unpicking and trying to resew which can be less easy than making from new.

It's really down to whether you make the dresses yourself and don't cost in the time or employ someone to do it for you.

I find Joey wears quicker than Judy because of the amount of involvement. My Boxers don't take much dress wear but their wigs flatten and wear through from head banging.

The Crocodile loses paint from under the jaw because of sliding over the playboard but the dress lasts well. Having said that, it's time now to change the dress before it becomes obviously tired.

That's one of outcomes from maintaining the main figures to a high standard. They throw into relief the changing condition of the supporting figures.
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Postby Nick Jackson » 19 Feb 2009, 00:43

Thanks for that, Les. (And I still haven't been over the Pennines to see you!)

As to your Codman question, Tony, from what they tell me, I think they start the summer season with three or four newly dressed Punches and, by October, it's time to redress them all.

I used to work as similar schedule (3–4 shows a day) at Southport and found it was roughly the same. Again, Judy would do for three or four years while Punch, Joey and Bobby were being dressed every five minutes.

I always have two (almost identical) Punches in the booth with me but when I redress them I always make two outfits for each at the same time just in case.

I haven't been showing as much for the last couple of years as I've been studying but by this summer....
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Postby Tony James » 19 Feb 2009, 02:37

That's very interesting Nick.Thank you. Why do you have two Punchs in the frame? Ate you concerned about dropping and seriously damaging your main one? Does Codman keep one of the spares with him for the same reason?

I'm trying to work out the (Codman) maths of four shows daily for how long - May to the end of August? plus perhaps three shows daily for fewer days in April and September? Weekends thereafter?

Whichever way I divide it, three or four Punchs wearing out in a season is knocking on. Normally I expect to get two seasons out of my one Punch. I realise they are doing more shows than I do in a season but surely not 8 times as many. I don't think so.

The wear must be being influenced by the fabrics they use and perhaps the way they make them and the level of linings.

My last Punch costume of blue corduroy has been exceptionally hard wearing. I've never previously managed three seasons out of a costume. Always two. A small hole developed on the front shoulder where the stick rubs but I managed to mend it for the Autumn and Winter. He's being redressed as I write.

I agree with you about Joey and Judy. I manage about three years. My Policeman has done five seasons but to be fair, I tend to use him in two shows daily or sometimes three. Just depends. Again, the heavy dark blue fabric has proved very hard wearing.

The lady who does my dressing is a costume designer and she often uses off-cuts from theatre costumes she's designed and for those fabrics the suppliers provide various statistics including shrinkage and colour fastness indicators (she still pre-washes everything before making up) and also rub tests to indicate durability. These fabrics are not cheap.

But I think a lot of the durability is in the cut and making up and the linings used.

My problem is a tendency when I'm tired later in the day to rest my inside wrist on the inner edge of the playboard. I try hard not to because when whizzing the figures from side to side they do rub along the playboard edge and that wears them. Shows especially on less expensive fabrics. I remember an attractive dress on the baby which rub marked very quickly from doing the walkies routine. It had to be changed for the back end jobs.

Another was a lovely fabric, yellow with tiny red polka dots used for Joey's hat. It attracted dirt like a magnet. I sponged it regularly but it looked progressively grimier especially when I was doing steam fairs. That was another one which had to be changed for the back end jobs.

Shame. New, it looked so attractive and it showed well.
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Postby Nick Jackson » 19 Feb 2009, 02:51

Tony James wrote:Why do you have two Punchs in the frame?

Doesn't everyone? I have two Joeys too.

Tony James wrote:Three or four Punchs wearing out in a season is knocking on.

Well it's only the dress which wears out.

Tony James wrote:The wear must be being influenced by the fabrics they use and perhaps the way they make them and the level of linings.

That is very true, of course. For Punch I use a heavy cotton corduroy and as thick a cotton lining (sometimes canvas) as I can get away with.

Tony James wrote:But I think a lot of the durability is in the cut and making up and the linings used.

Agree 100pc – I use French seams and knock the stitch size down almost to minimum around stress areas like the back of the arms.
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Postby Chris » 19 Feb 2009, 11:19

I find I need to redress my Punch at least every ten years. The others last longer of course.
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Postby Tony James » 19 Feb 2009, 12:20

Nick, thanks for that but I'm still curious.

Duplicates
I don't know whether it's normal for others to have duplicate figures in their frames but I never have. I just have my one set and I use that. Is it normal to have duplicates with you in this way?

I can appreciate people having additional sets and choosing to bring them out and use them rather than allowing them to live in the roof of of their house! But is there a practical reason - fear of damage during performance as I suggested?

Wear
If Codman wears out four costumes each season, how many shows are being done?

I know my average weekly number from April to September and I know how long my Punch costume generally remains in good order - two years.

Sheer physical wearing out really only affects my Punch, Judy and Joey on a bi/tri-annual basis. The Crocodile physically wears after several years, rubbing as it slithers over the playboard edges. Likewise my Ghost physically wears due to diving about and through the house window.

The others are less likely to wear out. They are affected by the elements, hot bright sunshine - remember that?!!? - and repeated soakings and the dirt and grime of smoke and tar at steam fairs. I consciously have these costumes replaced before they become obviously tired which would detract from the appearance of my show.

At the same time I am aware that there is a school of thought that says - within reason - a certain degree of costume and paint wear and tear is desirable providing figures with a used and acceptable distressed look.

Making up
You are obviously much more skilled than I when it comes to making costumes. I was very relieved to find someone to do it for me. I'm always somewhat in awe at the number of pieces which go into a costume. More akin to complex human tailoring. Actually, more complex because of body shaping and styling.

Consequently these costumes are not cheap. Time is money and the amount of labour involved is high. That's where the cost lies, not quite so much in the material content.

Whilst as you say it is only the costumes which wears, I wouldn't like to be paying out the sort of rates I pay for re-dressing and not only annually but four times annually!

Thanks again Nick and I would be grateful for your views on duplicates and the Codman wear to performance ratios.
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Postby Chris » 19 Feb 2009, 12:37

Actually the wear to performance ratio is quite easily worked out using any pocket calculator. The formula is:
{[(a+b)*(c+d)]82}+[e*(f*100)]

Where a = the number of performances
b = number of appearances the puppet makes in the show
c = amount of lateral movement in each appearance
d = percentage frictional factor of playboard edge (sandpaper 100, custard 0)
e = frictional factor of costume (slub 100 satin 3)
f = pressure from wrist (kg per square cm)

Hope this helps.
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Postby Tony James » 19 Feb 2009, 12:49

Thank you Chris. I was trying to keep it simple.

Maybe Codman is doing far far more than I appreciate.
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