Many of the early SL type puppet characters from 1950 to 1952 had solid heads. The product used is often refered to as "Pelham Compound" is a mixture of pumice, a fine powder made from volcanic lava and animal glue. Once mixed and heated it was poured into moulds and left to set. The process was first used under licence from is inventor, Percy Mortimer who was a London Toy Maker. Bob Pelham finally purchased the process in the early 50's.

In 1953 the process was changed so that the moulded heads and bodies became hollow.

The aluminium moulds were normally in 2 or 3 parts such as this 3 part mould used for the 1963 Wolf. The features were carved and the the mould was made as an impression of the carving.

wolf-mouldl-right

After being cooled on beds of ice the mould was filled through a hole normally in the back of the head with the hot mix which looked almost like thick pancake mixture. After a few seconds the excess mix was poured out leaving a thin layer on the inside of the mould. Within minutes the mould was opened and the head taken out and dried in a wind-tunnel. This whole process could take 24 hours. . Normally the minimum run was 40.

For larger heads a product called Revertex was used which was baked in an oven for about 2 hours.

Small run moulds were also made of Bronze, plaster and concrete.

The pictures below show some stages of the production in 1963

5 Stages to finish a Bimbo.....

After being cleaned the part went on to the paint shop.

Each puppet head is first dipper to give the base colour. One ready the painter would hand paint the detail onto the head.

As they are hand made and painted all faces are different. During painting, even though there was a "Standard" look painters often added their own style.

Then the hair is added, in the case of Bimbo it was wool all the way from Iceland.

Then the clothes are added.

Then the strings and control are added. Each string has to the exact length and each knot tied in a certain "Pelham" way

A quick look in the mirror and another Bimbo is on him way to brighten up the life of a young Pelpup.

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