Sunday, December 30, 2007
Saturday, December 29, 2007
I'm referring to the "cubic inches-to-US fluid ounces" conversion calculator now located on the bottom-left section of this blog (courtesy of Metric Conversions). I wanted to keep the calculator handy so I put it where I'd be sure to find it again.
I needed to make the conversion to calculate the correct amount of liquid plastic resin to pour into my hand molds. I measured the length, width and depth of the hand models in inches, multiplied those measurements to get the cubic inches, entered the amount into the top box of the conversion calculator, and the calculator came up with the US fluid ounces needed to make the hands. The reason I needed the US fluid ounces calculation was that the Dixie cups I used as mixing receptacles are measured in US fluid ounces.
If ever you need to make a similar conversion, now you know where to find a calculator.
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Monday, December 24, 2007
Sunday, December 23, 2007
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
Sunday, December 02, 2007
The frustrating part of the process is that I won't get a glimpse of my handiwork until I've already invested hours of work. While I've learned a lot, I won't be happy if I have to start over again.
The next step is to make a mothermold. I'll use plaster bandages, the material used to make plaster casts (like for a broken arm). After the mothermold hardens, I'll flip it over, remove the clay bed, and brush on more silicone rubber to mold the other half of the hand models.
Sunday, November 25, 2007
Now that I've come to grips with that, I step boldly forward and declare... here it comes.... SKIN MOLD! (It took a couple of weeks just to decide WHICH method to make my first mold).
I unpacked the five pounds of Klean Klay (a sulfur-free clay) and planted the hand models in it. I etched a gutter around the models as instructed by Mike Brose's book "Figuremaking Can be Fun". I made some keys with the end of the handle of my sculpting tool and a twirl of my little finger. (The keys are the round impressions near the edges of the clay forms. They will help to line up the two halves of the skin mold).
Next comes the application of silicone rubber and the making of the mothermold (either of hard plastic or plaster bandages).
This is a big deal for me in my quest to make vent figures from molds. We'll see how the next step works out.
Friday, November 23, 2007
I have been working on a conversion figure to sell on Ebay. It's a Charlie McCarthy doll. I plan to keep the face stock and add pro-style mechanics (self-centering eyes, raising eyebrows and a jaw with brass axle). My conundrum was painting irises on the eyeballs that were close-to-perfectly round. After several lame attempts at painting by hand, I finally reviewed Mike Brose's suggestions in his fine book "Figuremaking Can Be Fun". One method he covers is printing an iris on a computer printer. Al Stevens has an oversized iris on his Fred Project website for folks to use (thanks, Al). So I sized it and printed it on an Epson printer. I carefully cut out the two irises and glued them on the pre-painted eyeballs. Then I varnished the eyeballs and irises with a glossy finish. Of all the methods I tried, this method provided the best result by a mile.
Now the frustration. Awhile back, I bought a pack of 1-1/2" wood ball knobs at Joann's Fabrics. I made eyeballs, around which I sculpted my models for molds. But then Joann's stopped carrying the 1-1/2" wood ball knobs. So I ordered a package of 48 ball knobs from a woodcrafts website, 1-1/2" in size. Well, as it turns out, the new ball knobs are ever-so-slightly larger than 1-1/2", and they won't fit in the models I've sculpted for moldmaking.
I still plan to sculpt yet another head, so I'll use the new ball knobs for that sculpture. Meanwhile, I'm still hoping to find "Creative Wood" brand ball knobs sold by Joann's Fabrics, preferably the pack of 9.
Thursday, November 22, 2007
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
The Klean Klay will be used primarily as a bed for a skin mold. The plaster bandages will be used to make a mother mold. I'm going to make a mold of the hands first. If they succeed, then I'll work on the jaw piece. Once I've mastered the process (or at least not really screwed it up), I'll make a mold of the two head designs I've created.
Saturday, November 10, 2007
In this effort, I was entirely successful.
Sunday, October 21, 2007
The rough unfinished product is pictured. Every eyeball will still require some sanding and precise iris fitting. I'm not sure this is worth the effort considering I can buy those gorgeous plastic pre-made eyeballs from Puppets & Props for a reasonable price. But there is a certain amount of satisfaction I get from making my own.
Sunday, October 14, 2007
Today, I may fire up the tabletop drill press for the first time. I ordered and received 48 wooden balls from a supply house. I'll likely trash a few of them trying to set a correct hole depth to accommodate the plastic iris. I also plan to order silicone rubber for the moldmaking. Oh yeah, it's gettin' scary!
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Sunday, September 30, 2007
I know it's silly thinking an inanimate object could become life-like.
Oh... wait a minute.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
The process involves study, acquiring new tools, reorganizing work spaces, experimenting with new techniques and buying (sometimes expensive) raw materials.
When I was happily turning out conversion figures, I'd finish and sell one per month. The last figure I completed was "Cecil" in June. I can't even predict when the next project will be completed.
All I can do is keep leaning forward. I'll be much happier though when I finally turn out my first vent figure made from a mold.
Friday, September 21, 2007
In my quest to start building molds, I purchased a tabletop drill press. The tool won't actually have much to do with molds, but it will help me make my own eyes. I've been drilling and routing with a hand drill. I've done okay with it, but a drill press (with laser sighting no less) will result in more precision and fewer mistakes.
Now, if I could just get my wife to teach me how to run that sewing machine...
Thursday, September 13, 2007
This guy's working his way toward being another mold model. Next, I'll add those big ears and I'll work on the lips.
Photos to come.
Sunday, September 09, 2007
Oh, by the way. HOW 'BOUT THEM DUCKS! (Oregon 39, Michigan 7)
Wednesday, September 05, 2007
But I digress.
What you're probably wondering is.... "What the heck is going on with those cheeks? Is he trying to swallow ping pong balls? Is he hiding Brussels sprouts? Did he get stung by a bee on both sides of his face?"
(I know, I know. I'm workin' on it.)
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
The next step will be covering those foam cheeks and forming the shapes around the eyes. I actually have SOME idea where I'm going with this, but it's half the fun not knowing EXACTLY where I'm going.
Remember, just because I don't know where I'm going doesn't mean I'm lost.
Saturday, August 25, 2007
Usually sculpting the cheeks and nose adds a lot of weight due to the thickness of the Magic-Sculpt. So I'm trying out a new idea.
I bought some foam balls at the craft store. I cut them in half and hollowed out the backs to contour to the cheeks and nose. Then I glued them to the face. I'll trim them up a bit when they're secure. Then I'll cover them with Magic-Sculpt. I hope to achieve fuller cheeks and a larger nose without adding so much weight.
Hey, it may be a conversion figure, but I want it to be a COOL conversion figure.
As with Al's "Fred Project" instructions, the process is explained quite clearly. There are photos of each step, too. If you have any interest in moldmaking, go to Al Stevens' blog and read it for yourself.
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
This technique ensures that the eyes will fit perfectly in their sockets and will move fluidly left and right.
By the way, the eyeballs are the first one's I've made myself using wood balls from the craft store and plastic irises purchased on Ebay.
Monday, August 20, 2007
I'm pleased to say that the new Braylu Creations head casting (now offered for sale on his website) is very easy to cut. Much easier than a Charlie head. As some followers of this blog might know, I cut out the eyes so I can sculpt around larger eyeballs mounted inside the head on an eye tray.
I also cut out the jaw, though I'll have to add styrene plastic sidewalls on the jaw. The trapdoor came to me pre-cut, but I thought it was too small for head access. I reattached the trapdoor cutout with Magic-Sculpt and then re-cut a larger trap door. I'm pleased to say that the Magic-Sculpt bonded well to the Braylu head. I roughed up the contact points on the head with sandpaper and a file just to be sure.
My plan is to sculpt a new face on the Braylu head similar to the way I approach Charlie head conversions. I'll share my progress as I move my project along.
Saturday, August 18, 2007
Even though the filled versions look more like the original fingers I severed (ouch!), the fingers are actually longer and the hand looks more curved and relaxed. Each finger also has its own slightly different curvature, whereas the original Charlie fingers are quite straight, even and tense.
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Now I have to figure out the best way to make molds of them. There are several techniques, but I'm having some difficulty visualizing the best approach.
Monday, August 13, 2007
Now I can't seem to stop.
Sunday, August 12, 2007
If not, there's always the round file.
Friday, August 10, 2007
I'm making fingers, one at a time, out of Magic-Sculpt. I'm forming them over small lengths of coat hanger wire. I'll be attaching them to the hand portion from an old Charlie figure (I cut off the original fingers). The replacement fingers I'm making are longer and will form a more relaxed cupped hand. Eventually I will make a mold of these new hands and use the castings for future 34-36" figures.
Sunday, August 05, 2007
I noticed a new product on Ebay ; a cast head similar to Mike Brose's offerings. Owner and creator Buzz James has designed the casting so that it can be altered with Magic-Sculpt or like material, or used as is. The head comes to you in three pieces; a head, trap door and jaw. It's up for auction on Ebay if you'd like to take a look.
Saturday, August 04, 2007
Now it looks like he's about to release a third character casting, at least that's my hope. On his website, Puppets and Props, there's a Senior Citizen figure next to the headline "What's New". As you will see, it's beautifully done.
If history is any indication, the casting may appear soon on Ebay.
Thursday, August 02, 2007
Sunday, July 29, 2007
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
While the vitriol from the Ventriloquist Central forum took some air out of my balloon (even though I didn't think it would), the other reason for going to molds and castings is weight. While some folks (perhaps they could be called "purists") objected to my figure-building approach, there was one critique they never mentioned that would have been completely legitimate and justified. Conversion heads with new faces using Magic-Sculpt or like products tend to be heavy. They are still relatively easy to manipulate atop the bodies, but mine are still heavier than heads of similar size made from urethane or some other plastic casting material.
It will probably be quite a while before another new Kenny Croes figure hits the Ebay marketplace, but I'll still be working on figures and blogging as I do it.
Thursday, July 19, 2007
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Unfortunately, the eye mechanics were shaken loose from his head during shipping. But the damaged figure will actually provide me with an opportunity. Though I offered to refund the buyer's money, he prefers that I repair or replace the eye mechanics and send him back. I think I'll replace the original eye set-up.
The original eyes were actually cylinders rather than spheres. I plan to replace the cylinders with spherical eyes; wood balls purchased at a craft store. I will very lightly rout the eyes for an iris. I will drill a hole straight through the eyeball where the cornea would be. I'll fill the cornea side with wood putty and mount springs on the back side. Then I'll paint the iris inside the lightly routed circular area. I think the new owner will like the look of these new eyes better the old ones. Plus, they will be mounted more securely. The remounting of the original cylinder eyes was difficult and apparently ineffective.
Meanwhile, I'm excited about the Smooth-On Molding Kit on the way to my workshop. I hope my first molding project will be hands.
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
I've been reading and viewing videos about moldmaking. The Polytek site has an online video that demonstrates three techniques for moldmaking with their products. Click HERE if you'd like to see it, too.
I've read Mike Brose's book "Figure Making Can Be Fun", but as good as it is, there's nothing quite like seeing the process demonstrated right before your eyes. Viewing the video helped to demystify the process somewhat.
I've decided to order a small Starter Kit from Polytek and build a mold of a small object. If successful, I'll move up to vent parts. The thing is, you want to make sure you know what you're doing, because silicone rubber mold materials are very expensive.
This may be too ambitious a technique to perform in an upstairs bedroom, but I'm edging ever closer to giving it a try.
Wednesday, July 04, 2007
I am toying with the idea of adding a new animation. The "devil" on my shoulder is urging me to make this figure stick out his tongue. The "angel" on the other shoulder is advising me to "keep it simple, stupid". The "devil" side knows that great consternation will ensue and a stunning variety of bad words will come flying out of my mouth as I attempt to make the tongue animation function and the jaw to open in coordination with tongue extraction. Even the "f-word" might sneak out (though I will, of course, substitute the consonant with the soft "th" sound).
I believe the "angel" is also aware of the dire possibilities.
Monday, July 02, 2007
My wife Joyce is a trained illustrator and sculptor. On occasion, she'll inspect my sculpting and make constructive suggestions. For instance, see the way the nose and upper lip connect on the profile photo? I originally had the nose and upper lip connect at a 90-degree angle. But Joyce pointed out that as we age, we grow cartilage in our faces (probably elsewhere, too. But we won't get into that). At a certain advanced age, the connection between nose and upper lip is more of a 45-degree angle. So I added Magic-Sculpt and indeed, the guy looked better and older!
"jimmy from kansas city" (of Smith & Jones fame) commented on the picture below that this fellow resembled Bella Lugosi. I had to laugh because he was right! Now that the Charlie hair has been covered in Magic-Sculpt, I think he looks less like Dracula, but I really giggled at jimmy's observation.
Saturday, June 30, 2007
Thursday, June 28, 2007
I want to make him ornery looking, too. We'll see how close I get.
Saturday, June 23, 2007
I lightly glued the eye tray in the head and sculpted around the upper portion of the eyes. I tried a new technique on a flat surface where I used a round plastic washer about 1.25" in diameter and formed the Magic-Sculpt around the washer to make the eye socket very round-shaped. Then I lifted the Magic-Sculpt off the flat surface away from the washer and applied it to the head. I left some room above the irises because I intend to add an eyelid flap across the eye just above the iris.
The next step is to sculpt the lower portion of the eye sockets. I'll use the same new technique with the plastic washer to form a nice rounded lower socket. Then comes the nose, cheeks, etc. I intend for this character to be an old-timer. More progress reports to come!
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
I've also streamed many of the videos. Very cool and very educational. Treat yourself to an inspiring tour. Click on "Tribute To Ventriloquism" in my Links section.
Sunday, June 17, 2007
Saturday, June 16, 2007
I "permanently" seal the head with dabs of Magic-Sculpt in three places. The seals can be easily sawed through, which I did. Then I had to peel up the wig, which as you know from the previous post, is glued down with Elmers Glue. I peeled up the wig without too much difficulty and no damage. (I left the wig still firmly attached to the trap door, however). Once inside I analyzed the problem. I decided the slippage could be fixed by reducing the play in the lever on the control post. A touch of wood putty in the lever slot tightened the cord. Problem solved.
I've reattached the trap door with three more dabs of Magic-Sculpt and I'll re-glue the wig around the head later tonight. By tomorrow, he'll be ready to rock.
Still, I think my new approach to the trap door on all future figures (as explained in an earlier post) will allow me to use screws to attach the trap door. I'm considering a couple of approaches to accomplish that. More later! (maybe with photos!)
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
- First, I buy the wigs at thrift stores. Goodwill usually charges $5.99. Salvation Army has 'em the cheapest... usually $2.50. And these are high-quality adult women's wigs.
- Secondly, lay out some newspapers to catch the flying gobs of hair.
- I start by lining up the hairline on the forehead. Then I glue (with Elmers Glue) the wig to top of the head only. I glue the hairline down, too. Then I let it dry fully. Remember, I haven't cut down the wig at all, so yes... it looks ridiculous.
- After the wig is firmly attached to the top of the head, I take a good sharp pair of scisssors and start cutting toward the ears. I cut the sideburns and around the ears. IMPORTANT: The trick is to cut the webbing underneath the hair rather that the hair itself. Some of the hair will fall away on it's own. I don't cut the hair itself just yet.
- After I cut one side, I go after the other side in the same way.
- Then I cut the back of the wig shorter to the desired length. Again, I try to cut the webbing rather than the hair.
- I fold the back of the wig over on itself to tighten the wig to size. Then I cut a dart out of the folds from the bottom of the wig to just about halfway to the top of the head. Be very conservative with your cut! You don't want to cut away too much. After the cut, you'll have a split in the shape of an upsidedown "V". But when you pull them together, they close up and fit the head right. Trim away a little more if the wig is still a bit loose. Remember, try to cut the webbing first!
- Then I do some moderate hair trimming, but not a lot.
- Last step is to glue each section to the head one section at a time (upper left side and left sideburn, upper right side and right sideburn, left back, then right back). To hold each section in place, I roll a towel and lean the glued section against the towel to keep the pressure on it. As soon as one section dries, I move on to the next section.
- After the wig is glued, I do the final haircutting. Again, go slow and be conservative. If you cut too much, it ain't growin' back!
I may be crazy, but that's how I do it!
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Monday, June 11, 2007
1. Why do you cut out the eyes completely rather then just the eye sockets?
First of all, I use larger eyeballs than the standard Charlie sockets will accommodate. Secondly, even when I cut out larger eye sockets, the 1-1/2" spheres never fit right.
- I start my process by epoxying a length of popsickle stick between the eyes to serve as a base for resculpting a nose bridge.
- I mount the eyeballs on an eye tray inside the head free of any rubbing on the sides or front of the head.
- Once the eye tray is temporarily mounted inside the head, I wrap the eyballs in plastic wrap for protection, then sculpt (with Magic-Sculpt) the eye sockets around the eyeballs. In this way, I'm assured the eyeballs will fit the eye sockets precisely.
2. Do you buy something to use for the ball of the neck or do you shape it from wood?
I purchase the control posts from Braylu Creations. They are pre-made to fit the Charlie heads. I have a link to Braylu Creations in my blog's "links" section.