OK - this is less of a tutorial, than it is an experiment for those of us who are frustrated watching our favorite (and olde$t) latex prop$ di$integrate. It looks like it will work.
Several years back I asked the HF members if anyone knew of a way to preserve latex props. The consensus was that they start to dry out the moment they come out of the mold and the best we can do is slow that dryout process down. Someone suggested praying them with a pure silicon spray - not armorall - but no one confirmed the wisdom or folly of that action. No one had any constructive suggestions for repair. Since that time I've lost several large, vicious looking rats, a vulture on a pile of skulls and a large cobra to latex deterioration.
The Malady: Deterioration and Drying out
You were a good latex prop owner. You spent the big bucks for your baby. You stored your lovely prop in a huge garbage bag sealed tight and kept it in a cool, dry location all non-Halloween year. Maybe even before storing it you protected it by treating it with some solution of some kind. But as your relationship has matured, you are seeing some severe cracks and breaks. Maybe that snake is trying to shed his skin, but leaving only stuffing in its place.
After taking down the haunt last year I was horrified to see the back / neck / hat of my roof Ghost was dried out, cracked and split. This guy is my all time favorite, I consider him a key feature of the haunt, AND he is NOT replicable. All of my Haunted Mansion Ghosts have Latex hats/heads/shoulders and hands and are years out of production. This could be the start of an epidemic!! This particular guy is mounted about 15 feet up in the air from mid September until a week after Halloween - the first one up and last one down. What to do, what to do. I stored him in my Northern exposure (read: cool) garage placing him where I would see him frequently hoping to find some way to restore his health.
The patient (at the upper right):
One day I was cleaning out a cupboard in the garage and ran across a repair kit I had used to patch a break on the bottom of the front of my '79 Vette and I was inspired to give the following a try:
- Anesthesia (an ice cold beer, glass of wine or just a Coke for the Dr...that's you).
- A clean dry cloth
- Duct tape, fiberglass cloth,
- A couple of disposable foam paint brushes
- A bottle of liquid latex "rubber." I think the makeup latex is ok if you don't have access to mask making latex. I found some at a local year round costume store.
- Good Scissors
- Wear a long sleeved shirt
- A painter's mask is a good idea
- A sheet of fiberglass cloth. You can find this at your local Auto parts store like Pep Boys.
After a generous administration of .. anesthesia, I set up the roof ghost for a close inspection which revealed a fearful diagnosis. There were four complete breaks as long as 5-6 inches at the top and bottom of collar, at the base of the hat and another smaller one on the side of the neck. Left untreated, this patient would NEVER last another season. Our sun and winds would have most assuredly, decapitated him. This will require more aesthesia!
End of Episode 1. Tune into the next episode if you really, really have nothing better to do..... or if you want to save the life of your latex prop