Thursday, April 17, 2014


Many of the heads I've sculpted over the years have been available for purchase through special arrangement with Braylu Creations. Some folks like to "do-it-yourself" like I did when I built my first figure from a Mike Brose "Fred" head. Dozens of ventriloquists have bought and built figures from my head designs.  I'm proud to say that includes the late Clinton Detweiler, who purchased, built and sold several figures from my heads before his untimely passing.

One of my most loyal customers who has purchased several complete figures from me has been bitten by the "do-it-yourself" bug. He's made his own full-size Mr. Winkle (re-named "Al"). The figure is pictured here with a Lovik figure I recently repaired for him.

My only caution to the DIY folks out there is that once you've built one figure, you may not be able to stop (as in my case).

Thursday, April 10, 2014


My full-size Otis figure is almost ready to paint. I have just one more head-prep task to do. And that would be to form his eyelids (non-blinking). I like the eyes set in place before I make the eyelids so I can mark the right spots. I want them to cover the very most upper portion of the iris so he looks a bit sleepy, dense (or intoxicated with white lightenin'). I'll use Magic-Sculpt to make those drowsy eyelids.

And yes, I do know that each eye is a different color. That's the way Otis' new partner wants him.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Uncle Herman

This goofy old guy is now for sale on Ebay.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

I dig the wig

This Mortimer conversion figure got some hair today. I used a faux-fur wig sent to me by Braylu Creations, sewn from a new wig pattern for 2T figures. It worked great. I have been using a wig pattern of mine that required hand-sewing nine darts. The wigs worked really well, but took a lot of time to sew. This pattern has only two darts. By folding and trimming, you get the same good result, but with a lot less hassle.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Flappin' his jaw

Moving right along, I installed Otis' jaw today. I like to get that set so I can tend to any gap correction before I start painting. His jaw swings open and closed freely, but I'll need to close up a small gap between the jaw and neck area. Overall, though, the initial fit was pretty good.

You may notice the jaw's interior has some Magic-Sculpt around the tongue. That's because I sculpted the jaw with a full set of lower teeth in case I wanted to use the Otis castings for different characters. But Otis only has one lower tooth, so I had to convert his teeth to gums.

Friday, March 28, 2014


A while back I mentioned that I still like making conversion figures from to time. I had a couple of Goldberger Mortimer Snerd dolls in stock, so I thought I'd put them to good use. This fellow has moving eyebrows, side-to-side eyes and moving mouth. Conversion figures are fun because it gives me a chance to try out new approaches with mechanics and painting. Eventually this toy Mortimer will be become a fully-professional working figure at an affordable price for a ventriloquist.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Head on a post

Yesterday I drilled a series of holes around the perimeter of the area on the neck where the headpost will go. Today I drilled more small holes around the opening I created. That's so the Magic-Sculpt I use to secure the headpost will seep into the tiny holes for anchoring the post (a PVC pipe). Now that the Magic-Sculpt is dry, the headpost ain't goin' no place.

Otis got some holes drilled into his forehead, too. (Sounds downright barbaric). Eventually eyebrows will flip-flop in those openings.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Cuttin' up

Yesterday I began slicin' and dicin' the urethane Otis casting. I drill small holes around the perimeter of the areas I want to remove. Then I use a pair of small wire clippers to cut an opening on each side large enough to accommodate a hand saw. I use a hack saw to cut the trapdoor in the back of the head. I drill large holes in the eye sockets, then use the wire clippers to cut out more plastic. I smooth the edges of the eye sockets, mouth cavity and headpost hole with a Dremel grinding bit. I also round the edges of the trap door opening. I found that the edges are really sharp otherwise, and as often as I'm sticking my hands in there, it's safer to smooth the sharp edges.

Lastly I use a round Dremel cutting bit to rough up the head's glass-smooth interior so the Magic-Sculpt I use to secure mechanics will firmly bind to the head.

And of course, I sign my work.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

This is how it starts

otis the moonshinerWell, not exactly. First there was a clay sculpture, then a mold, then the casting you see in the photo. I've been commissioned by a ventriloquist who owns several of my figures to build a 42" Otis the Moonshiner. He already owns a 34" version of the hillbilly. 

Working for this vent is especially gratifying because he only has one absolute requirement. He insists that I have fun building his figures. 

Of course, not every task in bringing a figure to life is a lighthearted frolic. But overall it gets more and more joyous as the character emerges from lifeless urethane plastic.

My client likes photos of the progress, so I'll share them with you, too.

Thursday, February 27, 2014


Some of my friends in the ventriloquist world have suggested that I emphasize that I make 40"-42" full size figures all the time, not just 34" figures. Don't get me wrong... I like making the smaller figures as well. But I make 'em BIG, too.

For example, the little mop-head on the left. His name is "Jack" and he's my newest completed full-size figure. He's 42-inches tall, has side-to-side self-centering blue eyes, crossing eyes, and raising eyebrows.

He'll soon be looking for someone who'll tolerate his misbehavior. If that might be you, please drop me line.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Otis makes a friend

Ventriloquist Mark Bartlett was kind enough to give Otis a place to call home. Just one small caution, Mark. Make sure Otis doesn't sneak out at night and start building his still again. Next thing y'know you'll have the local sheriff knockin' at your door.

Otis loves his moonshine.

Thursday, February 06, 2014

A different angle

After I installed the jaw into my Jackie figure and attached the spring to the jaw's eyehook, I realized the angle was so straight that the jaw wouldn't stay closed. So I took a piece of leftover brass rod and bent a hook into it. Then I drilled a 7/64" hole into the jaw, inserted the brass rod into the hole, glued it in, then reinforced it with a dab of Magic-Sculpt. The angle became more acute and thus the spring closed the mouth and kept it closed. Problem solved.

Now on to the next unintended consequence.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Cleaning out the closet

Back when I was just learning to build figures, I made a lot of conversion figures, primarily from Charlie McCarthy dolls. I got a tip that J.C. Penney, and later, were blowing out some new Charlie McCarthy and Mortimer Snerd vent dolls for $25 each shipped, so I bought a bunch of Charlies and two Mortimers. Over the years I built lots of conversion figures from those shipments. But I found three left over and decided to clear them out. So I'm building three more conversion figures with pro mechanics. I'm enjoying the process. 

I've never built a conversion figure from a Mortimer Snerd doll. The molded hair drips down across the forehead, so I used Magic-Sculpt to form a new wrinkled forehead. With my improved wrinkle-painting technique, I think he'll look rather distinctive. 

I'm also finishing up a full-size Jackie figure (the big guy on the left).

Again my apologies for not posting more often. I did say that I was pulling back a little, but even so, I'll try to post a bit more often from now on.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Ignore some of this video

A reader asked about the mechanism I built for Otis' self-centering eyes. So I'm reposting this video I made five years ago. Otis has eyes made of 1.5" wood ball knobs, but I embed plastic irises instead of the printed irises referred to in the video. The spring mechanism, however, is the method I still use to make the eyes self-center. This method was learned from Mike Brose's wonderful book, "Figure Making Can Be Fun". I no longer embed a rod-and-tube in a wood control stick. I now use PVC pipe with a rocker controller mounted on the pipe.  The cords are attached to the eyes' synchro bar with the cords running down the hollow PVC pipe and attaching to the mounted rocker.

Finally, now that I'm retired from my "real" job, I do accept orders for figures and have for a few years now. So ignore my comments about not accepting orders. Please... place orders! :-)