Puppet strings are the most vital and delicate part of a marionette's construction. When they break or become tangled, the puppet simply cannot function. It can be frustrating at times to attempt to repair puppet strings, but like everything else, practice makes perfect.
Things You'll Need
- Post-It notes
- Replacement puppet strings
Determine the length of each broken puppet string. If you have the original packaging, it will probably tell you, but if not, you will need to measure with a ruler.
Examine the puppet strings to determine the type of material used. Marionette strings can be composed of any number of materials: strong thread, fishing line or even specialized puppet strings. Again, if you have the original packaging, it should be able to tell you about the materials in detail. Otherwise, you will need to guesstimate.
Check to see how the strings are attached to the puppet and to the wooden cross which manipulates it. Note exactly how and where they are attached, and note any knots which hold them in place.
Untie the puppet strings you need to repair from the wooden cross. Use Post-It notes or adhesives to note which arms of the cross correspond to which specific string.
Untangle the puppet strings carefully using tweezers or your fingernails. Many times, you need only free the strings from each other in order to repair the puppet. If this is not the case, then you will probably need to replace the strings completely.
Detach the strings from the puppet, aiming for the least amount of damage. Depending on the puppet, you may be able to simply untie the strings or loosen them with a rod. This step is necessary only if you need to replace, rather than untangle, the strings.
Purchase replacement strings of the material and color that match the damaged strings. Arts and crafts stores such as Michael's carry a number of appropriate materials, while sporting goods stores like Bass Pro Shops carry fishing line that you can use if appropriate (see Resources below).
Measure and cut the length of the replacement strings to match the damaged strings. Make sure you include enough extra line to re-tie any knots or bindings on the puppet's body and cross. Your measurements need to be as precise as possible.
Re-string the new strings, starting with the puppet itself and then connecting the strings to the wooden cross. Endeavor to tie the knots, connect the bolts or sew the seal as much like the original configuration as possible.
Tips & Warnings
- A wooden stand for your marionette can prevent the strings from tangling and save you the need to repair them again in the future. You can purchase stands at specialty stores like the Puppet Super Store (see Resources below).