When puppets get tangled its probably the main reason why children put them down and stop playing with them. A lot of people give up on untangling before they begin.
There is a method of untangling which allows you to do it without undoing the strings however it is very complicated and unless you are an expert already you are more likely to end up in a bigger tangling mess.
The best method by far is to patiently untie the strings and separate them.
1) If possible keep the two black head strings attached.
2) Untie the yellow string at the buffer,then pull it gently free of the other tangled strings.
3) Unknot (Use a needle to prise the knot apart. It usually comes loose without much problem) the red string at one of the hands. Pull it free of the tangle but keep it attached to the other hand.
4) Unknot the blue string at the back of one of the knees and as with the red string pull it free of the tangle but keep it attached to the other knee.
5) If your puppet has green strings to work the mouth try to keep these attached if possible but if the tangle is too messy then untie the string at one of the shoulders.
6) Once you have all the strings separated then you can begin to reattach them. Make sure all the buffers are gently tightened (neither too slack or too tight. )You will need a needle to help.
Important....If you had to untie the green string at the shoulder of an SM puppet then reattach this one first as a priority.You will have to take it up to the green buffer and pass it through then take it down to the shoulder where you will have to tie it. You will need a needle to pass it through the clothing.You will have to check the tension carefully to make sure the mouth opens properly.
7) Reattach the blue string first. Take it up from the leg and pass it through the two blue buffers. Take it down to the other leg and using a needle pass it through the hole at the knee joint.Tie it in a knot at the back of the knee joint.
8) Reattach the red string next. Take it up from the hand and pass it through the single red buffer and then using a needle pass it through the hole in the other hand and knot it at the palm
9) Finally reattach the yellow string at the yellow buffer. Tighten as neccessary.
Your puppet should be ready to dance again!
Pelham puppets often need their strings replacing through wear and tear.
If you want to buy strings go to this website. This string is excellent though quite expensive when you add the postage costs. Ihttp://apps.webcreate.com/ecom/catalog/product_specific.cfm?ClientID=15&ProductID=18602
Instructions for restringing a Standard Pelham Puppet
1) Use the two black strings to secure the head. Fasten them to the eyelets on the sides of the head. Fasten the top of the strings to the wooden control by feeding them through the small holes at each end of the bar with the blue buffers. These should always be done first and should measure approx 66cm
2) Take the yellow string and tie it under the clothing at the waist securing it to the eyelet. Use a needle to pass it through any clothing and secure it onto the yellow buffer on the control .Do this with the puppet upright so you get the length of the string just right between head and control.
3) Take the longer blue string and fasten it at the knee joint .Usually this can be slotted through a hole and is knotted at the back. Make sure the blue buffers are not too tight or too slack. Pass the end of the blue string through both eyelets and down to the other knee joint. Slot through hole and knot at the back. You may have to pass this through clothing. Do this again with the puppet upright so his legs are straight when you tie the last knot.
4) Take the longer red string and pass it through the hole in one of the hands and knot the end at the palm. Take the other end and pass it through the red buffer on the control and down to the other hand Ajust the length so the hands are just held up a little and tie a knot under the other palm.
5) Take the green string which controls the mouth movement and attach to a shoulder. Take the other end and pass through the green buffer on the control and down to the other shoulder and fasten. You usually have to pass the string through clothing before fastening and this can be fiddly so be patient. When the string is pulled the mouth should open.
6) A small tapestry needle with a larger eye is ideal for passing through the holes .Quite often an extra pair of hands to hold the control while you fiddle is a great help or you can hook the puppet on a clothes airer or similar and will also help if you have not got the extra hands.
7) Any problems or queries contact me at my email address which is firstname.lastname@example.org and I will always try to help.
The junior control was a T bar and when moved up and down from side to side it made a puppet walk. It was also used with the small animal puppets. It can be found with or without buffers.
To restring the Mother puppet
Most JC puppets except the animals are restrung like this. You will need a needle with a large eye.
1) Take a black string and cut it to a length of 24cm Fasten it to the top of the head and attach to the control at the centre front.
2) Fasten a blue string at the knee joint of the right leg.Take it up to the control passing it through the material of the skirt and fasten it at the right side of the control.
3) Without cutting the string take it down to the right hand and pass it through the hole in the hand and make a knot.
4) Do the same with the string for the left leg and hand.
5) Fasten a yellow string to the back of the puppet at the waist. Pass the string through any clothing and pass it up to the control and tie it off at the centre back point.
6) Use diagram to help.
Quite often brown boxed puppets were sent back to the Pelham factory for restringing. Their black strings were thus replaced with the new coloured strings which were introduced in 1956. This is probably is the reason why so many brown boxed puppets turn up today with what many people think are the wrong strings.
The movement of the small animals is delightful and its all down to how they are strung. I've taken the foal as an example but the poodle, Bengo, horse ,little cat,as well as Wuff Snuff and Tuff are all basically strung the same way.
1) Take a single black string 50cm in length. Fasten it at one end to the eyelet on the centre back of the foal,then tie the other end directly onto the eyelet on the centre underside of the control (there is no buffer for this string) It is important to do this string first as it is the guide for the length of all the other strings.
2) Take a single yellow string approx 50cm in length. Tie it to the first joint of the tail and then take it up to the yellow buffer pass it through and fasten as a loop making sure the tension matches that of the first black string.
3) Take one single red string approx 85cm in length. Tie it to one of the eyelets on the sides of the foal's head.Take it up to the red buffer and pass it through and then bring it down to the other eyelet on the other side of the head and fasten it off.
4)This is the trickiest part. Take four blue strings approx 60cm in length.Tie two of them at each of the knee joints of the front legs and then take them straight up to the corresponding blue buffers. Keeping the tension right fasten them off with loops. Take the other two blue strings and tie them at each of the knee joints of the back legs.Now take them up to the blue buffers as before, but pass them through the eyelets on each side of the body then cross them over so that the left back leg string is fastened to the right buffer and the right back leg string is fastened to the left buffer. As with the front leg strings finish off with a loop.It is this crossover that makes the puppet walk so realistically.
5) The earlier animal puppets and some later ones had flat controls with no buffers. With these puppets just follow the same pattern of stringing but tie the strings directly through the holes that were drilled for this purpose
I saw some advice to glue the knots of pelham puppet strings by another "expert"
Never be tempted to glue the knots of your strings to keep them in place. You may damage the paintwork and you want your strings to move freely.The Pelham company never glued the knots so it would seem that there is no advantage doing so and you could damage the paintwork of your puppet.
If you want to be really proffessional in tying the knots.The Pelham company used to take a tiny length of string along with the end of the proper string.They were laid parallel and fastened together in a granny knot twice then trimmed.It left a very neat tidy knot.