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The Nightmare Before Christmas Cat Puppet Restoration

One of our most dramatic restorations, this Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas cat puppet.

Sometimes referred to as “Sally’s Cat,” this Nightmare Before Christmas cat puppet is a screen used foam latex stop motion puppet featured throughout the film slinking through the streets of Halloween Town.

When this original movie prop cat puppet arrived in our New York studio it was in extremely poor condition, and the client requested as close to a full restoration as possible. Mike Thomas, our lead artist on this project, had his work cut out for him and in the end did an astonishing job.

Like many foam latex stop motion puppets the foam was built around flexible wires and armature which allowed animators to slowly manipulate the puppets for each frame of the film. The flexing and movement weakens the foam and over time, the combined on set use during the movie and deterioration of the foam latex can cause cracking and missing material.

We carefully rebuilt any of the missing foam latex on his legs tail and neck.  It’s a painstaking process especially considering how small the puppet was. Mike also patched a few smaller cracked areas of the cat’s face and body, always careful to only add material where it was absolutely necessary. Our goal, even during a dramatic prop restoration, is always to keep the piece looking as original as possible. We want to maintain the integrity of these screen used movie props as much as we can!

 The completed restoration is a stark contrast to the initial condition, yet we’ve preserved all of the original material and have only spot-painted the areas which had to be recreated.  This means we “in painted” the repairs, which is the method used by museum conservators where you keep all paint within the confines of the new patches, making sure to keep any original, screen used paint untouched and the prop as original as possible.

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