Sungura the Hare’s Ear Job
This page goes through the steps I took to make a fiberglass repair, and a little about other repairs tricks, it is not, strictly speaking, a how-to.
Sungura the Hare has ears that are supposed to look like a lop during most of the show, and then at a pivatol moment shoot straight up in the air. The only other thing happening at that moment is a flashing light, so it’s kind of important. This puppet is twenty years old and it’s fiberglass. I hate fiberglass, it’s noxious, often heavy, brittle, and it can kill you. But that’s just me, other people love it.
What you see here is a close up of Sungura’s ear. The masking tape seems to be original to the puppet, it’s holding on washers for weight, and it has fiberglass on top of it. Part of what I need to fix is the joint between the two pieces of ear. The thin white stripe in the middle of the ear, is a piece of wire that is intended to serve as a pivot, but has broken loose. The cable that runs the ears has also snapped, so I’ll need to restring it. The original builder used cotter pins as a track to run the string through, this is clever.
|I don’t have any choice but to use fiberglass in this case. But I can use quick set epoxy as my resin instead of having to use the more hazardous industrial resins. The first step is to position my pieces where I want them. Then I cut a piece of fiberglass cloth to use as a bandage over the broken area. I mix the two part epoxy and place the fiberglass in it, saturating it with epoxy. It will turn clear. Notice that I’m using a stick to do this. Don’t touch epoxy with your bare hands. It is possible to suddenly develop an intolerence to epoxy that will literally kill you. I’m not kidding. I usually wear rubber gloves, but since the theater is out of them, I’m using the GloveCote on the bench, to try to protect myself.||I’ve wrapped the bandage over the broken area, and then put wax paper on top. The two parts of the ear are so close together that I could have accidentally glued them together. If the wax paper sticks to the epoxy, it won’t hurt the puppet. I’ve used the five minute epoxy, so this will be set and ready to use very quickly.|
|The restringing of the cable was a major pain. I’ve taken the picture so you can see the inside of the head, but I don’t think I can describe exactly how the ears work. Here is the useful information I can try to give you. Always put an access hatch in your puppets. We had to cut one to make repairs on this guy.
If the space you are working in is too small to get your hands into (like here) a thin wire will often help to guide string. I had to run the cable through the screweye and around the pulley, so I pushed wire through first, then tied the string and pulled it back through.
No matter what you make your puppets out of, they will sooner or later break. Make sure that everything can be replace. One of the problems with this guy was that a metal ring, which was used to reverse the direction of the cable, broke and it was epoxyed in. I couldn’t replace it, so I had to drill a new hole to place a new ring. The head was almost too small to do it.