Friday, December 12, 2014

Halloween Cat Rescue

Black cat with honeycomb tissue paper body and arms circa 1940s

Crumpled honeycomb doesn't have to be the end of a vintage decoration. And here's a tip that in no way alters the original piece, and offers a way to buy within an affordable range a vintage piece that others might ignore. With patience and a low-heat iron, this vintage cat dancer found new life.

I received the cat shown here as a crumpled, flattened mess stuffed into a bubble wrap mailer. On a whim, and since the item was extremely inexpensive, I tried gently ironing the honeycomb, and was surprised how well the tissue paper could spring back to life. I wonder which of 9 lives this cat is now on? This cat design (7" by varying lengths) is by Beistle (1938-1946) and is great fun to pose (shown above) in more than just the typical hanging position.

Below are some before and after shots of this decoration:

Crumpled honeycomb tissue paper on collectible vintage Halloween cat collectible Halloween black cat dancer shown after gentle and careful ironing

Side view o fcollectible vintage honeycomb tissue paper with severe wrinkles Side view of vintage collectible honeycomb tissue paper after gentle ironing.

Part of the trick is knowing which vintage piece is beyond recovery such as major or too numerous tears in the tissue, etc., that prevents it from being structurally sound. If the tissue holds its basic pattern but has just been smashed, it should likely recuperate just fine.  

Generalized Instructions:

If you look at the side view (bottom images) you can see the pattern of the honeycomb, (note the places, almost like handles, that point outward). Basically you start at one end of the arm (leg, or torso), and gently pull these "handles" away from the crumpled limb while simultaneously using the very tip of a low-heat iron to press the pattern flat, section by slow and careful section, until you can get the whole arm compacted flat. (Think of it as slowly compressing an accordion or a slinky back together). In the final step, once a limb is compressed, put the full iron onto the compacted piece from front and then back. Voila! When you let the arm go, it's springy once again! From season to season onward the limbs and body should press themselves when stored correctly compressed.

Note - restoration of anything vintage is obviously something not to be taken on lightly, as it might do more damage than good (and in regards to its collectible nature).  

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