a new booth

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a new booth

Postby CvdC » 03 Mar 2009, 01:00

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Here in my new workshop is a just completed booth.
Making these is difficult in that it requires a number of different skills; you need to make the frame in wood, then there are the aluminium bits to connect the puppet rails and play board, you need all your Meccano experience to put together the lazy tongs, and then there is the sewing for the cover.
I used hardwood cut to 1" square. This is not a standard size so it needs to be ripped down to size. Alas the standard 3/4" square is too small.
The two halves are joined with pins made from 1/4" bolts with the heads cut off. The threaded end is good for gluing into the wood. I use these at the top as well.

This is a good old hands above head booth. The cover has a top section so the top of the booth can be completely put together before being put up on the bottom section. This is based on the Victorian style of cover. Although in this case I have made it in the same fabric as the lower section. It makes putting it up easy and allows for puppets to poke their heads out from the side. If it is too windy then it can be clipped down. The lower section is simply attached with press studs.
The whole thing is designed to fit into a golf carry bag - including the proscenium.

BTW remember the lazy tong technique has to predate 1930's because we see it in use on a booth featured in the photograph in Felix's publication on Joe Beeby. I haven't got the book so I cannot point you to the page as I did in an earlier post.
It has been my experience that I am always true from my point of view, and am often wrong from the point of view of my honest critics. I know that we are both right from our respective points of view. - Gandhi (Having a bob each way.)
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Postby Tony James » 03 Mar 2009, 10:38

The book is My Life With Punch.

The picture pages - four of them - are unnumbered and together between pages 14 and 15. The picture you refer to is the one of Pegram in 1938.

The frame is supposed to date from around the 1870s as I recall.

I have always believed that rigid frames were changed and made up with bolts - similar to the style shown in Sydney de Hempsey's book - to allow frames to at least fold up a bit for use in houses.

The introduction of an element of lazy tongs seems to me an obvious extension of a folding frame requirement almost certainly copied from the fashion for 'folding camping furniture'. This was simple lazy tongs based design and used initially for furniture travelled by tourists on safari in the colonies.

Whether or not George Blake was aware of the 'Pegram' folding design and developed the idea or, as often happens in magic, great minds think independently alike, is something we are unlikely ever to resolve.

What we do know is that George's design was greeted in 1946 with great interest and apparently it was unfamiliar to the profession.

There is of course always the chance that the Pegram frame was a one-off.
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Postby David Wilde » 03 Mar 2009, 10:44

You ae quite rite about the lazy tong movement predating 1930!!

As ever people are convinced George Blake was the 1 to come up with the idea!!

Sorry but he was not!!

His plans only modified a design used by countless showman!!

I have about 6-7 frames that predate George Blake designs!!!

Most or all are a lazy tong movement!!
One is made by Quisto which is a Lazy Tong movement on another level,I will try and get some picks of this when I get this booth back from being recovered!!
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Re: a new booth

Postby Tony James » 03 Mar 2009, 20:41

Are all these early lazy tongs the same style or are they different variants?

Is the George Blake design another variant?
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Postby CvdC » 03 Mar 2009, 21:29

The cost of the above booth was £180 in materials (including the cover fabric) and it took about three full days to construct plus a day running around to the various shops to buy them. This does not include the painting of the back drop and proscenium - as I did not do this.
It has been my experience that I am always true from my point of view, and am often wrong from the point of view of my honest critics. I know that we are both right from our respective points of view. - Gandhi (Having a bob each way.)
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Postby Chris » 03 Mar 2009, 23:32

George Blake was the first to publish a design for a Punch frame based on the lazy tongs principle. I knew George and he certainly claimed to have come up with the idea in around 1927 because he got fed up with the nuts and bolts of his original frame. Doubtless he got the idea from either the lazy tongs picking up device, or more likely from the beach bathing tents which used this folding principle.
I am not saying that nobody else had ever employed an element of the principle in a Punch frame, but I feel convinced that what we know as the lazy tongs frame was invented by George.
In all the puppet literature of the period, and there was a great deal for there was a puppet renaissance in the 20s and 30s in both Britain and America, there are many many designs for portable glove puppet frames, but no hint of this principle prior to George's work.

But whatever the ins and outs of the history it was a boon in its time - allowing a Punch man to conveniently travel with his booth and puppets on public transport and speedily erect the fit-up at his venue. Probably the frame based structures many of us use today are quicker to erect and quite light to carry - but they do require a car or van for their transportation. Many performers prior to the 60s probably didn't own their own vehicle.
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Postby johnstoate » 04 Mar 2009, 00:23

Now I hate to disagree with you learned lot, But having just returned from me dad's funeral, I'm feeling a little invincible. So I'll put my twopennorth in, regardless.... I, personally, don't care who was the first recorded builder of the 'Lazy tongs' - That is the whole point! - For all any of us know, Piccini himself may well have had a similar set-up. But of course,( as a trade secret at the time) it wasn't recorded That is not to say that he didn't have access to the technology to build it! (Let's be fair, it ain't rocket science! :x ) In my view, anything that can can be regarded as 'Traditional' (That provocative word again :roll: ) is merely that which may have been created at any time in history given access to available materials and human expertise. The problem arises when people insist on written records, Often, these are people without the practical skills to appreciate that which can be created by the human mind with very basic technology. Let us not forget that we claim an art form from the crudest form of puppetry! Yet it endures, possibly because it is rooted in that same basic human instinct, of which we are all a part, and as such do not require written evidence to justify our existence. I maintain that the 'lazy tongs' booth was created by the first Punchman who needed a very mobile, easily erected rig for public performance, (Whilst still keeping ahead of the Beadle) I shall call him Jack Punch, And produce no evidence in support of his existence, (Beyond the continuance of the show) Who wishes to dispute this claim? :)
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Postby CvdC » 04 Mar 2009, 06:01

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I tried to find examples of the technology being applied elsewhere. This is an antique clothes dryer or airing frame. I don't think the design is sturdy enough for campaign furniture. If it were for portable change rooms then it would have to date to after swimming became legal. Perhaps portable wind breaks?
I think John is right to suggest it must date to a time when necessity became the mother of invention and someone needed to fold up his booth rather than wheel the frame about. Storage of a frame must have been a problem, let alone carrying it about.
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Postby Tony James » 04 Mar 2009, 12:45

I thought the lazy tongs principle came from the Greeks. It may have been someone other than Archimedes whose name always springs to mind when something engineering related is the topic.

But for sure the principle incorporated into furniture wasn't just an 18th/19th century revival of interest. I seem to think it was popular on and off for hundreds and possibly of years. Didn't the Romans have lazy tongs travelling furniture?

The Victorian interest was stimulated by the Empire and grand tours of it and no doubt, The Famous Army & Navy Stores. God bless them where the sun never set.

Or should that have been 'shone'?
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Postby Chris » 04 Mar 2009, 13:34

Levers certainly came from the Greeks - but I've never come across any Greek or Roman reference to the lazy tongs principle. I rather think it was probably a Victorian invention. The term "lazy-tongs" originated in 1830-40 which suggests that the gadget itself was invented around that time but of course the principle could well have preceded that in other forms. I have, for example, seen a similar arrangement on an old fire range - for moving a trivet over the fire, and back to the side. Whether this predated the actual tongs I have no idea.

The old street performers may well have had collapsible frames for any indoor work they were lucky enough to get - but these need not have been lazy tongs.

I saw one of the Codman family performing at a Christmas party. He used a "bundle of sticks" type of booth - but it certainly wasn't lazy tongs. This was in the 1950s, long after lazy tong booths had become popular. This suggests that the traditional collapsible booth used in that family at least was non LT.
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Postby Nick Jackson » 18 Jun 2009, 14:53

Chris, I too saw the Liverpool Codmans using something collapsible (perhaps in the 1960s) which wasn't LT. I was very young at the time but I remember some sort of trellis effect – not sure exactly how it works: perhaps the lower pins could slide down the uprights.

Sorry to revive such an old thread.
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