Doctor Who Sea Devil Mask Conservation

Conserving a screen used, latex Doctor Who Sea Devil mask.

 This latex Doctor Who Sea Devil mask dates back to 80’s episodes of the popular BBC television show. Even after over 40 years, when it arrived at our New York studio, the mask was in great condition! Our main objective for this television prop was to help preserve it in its current condition for years to come, with gentle conservation and support rather than heavy restoration.

 One of our senior restoration artists, Patrick Louie, took the lead on this project. Conserving a latex mask begins with a careful cleaning to remove any dust and debris. After cleaning, we inspect the entire mask in order to identify any areas which need attention. Our artists are looking for areas that have experienced cracking or damage, as well as areas that could pose a risk to the entire piece in the future. From there they can come up with the approach which makes the most sense for each individual piece. In this case, that approach included carefully placed fabric patches inside the mask to help bind areas showing signs of stress, and a few that could become concerns in the future.

With this prop mask, the latex was still flexible, which is the best time to get a custom insert made. Over time, natural rubber like latex (or foam latex commonly found on film props) will slightly shrink and become less flexible. It’s important to get the mask or prop in the position you’d like it to remain while it’s still got some flex. The custom archival insert better supports the mask and the full neck area to help minimize gravity’s effects and aid long term preservation.

Finally the Doctor Who mask was given a generous layering of flexible sealer. This was to help bind any tiny cracks in the surface and to help seal the paint in place. A little extra shine on the eyeballs and this Sea Devil is now a nicely conserved television prop! If you like this conservation project, please check out our other Doctor Who Prop projects.

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Do you have an original movie or television prop that is in need of restoration or display?  Email or call today and let’s discuss your project!

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