Sunday, July 29, 2007

New eyes

In a previous post I told you about my refurb project of a converted Charlie McCarthy doll I bought. The original maker used cylinders instead of spheres for eyeballs. I repainted the eyes and attempted to reinstall them. However, when the refurbished figure was sent to the new owner, the eye mechanism shook loose during shipping. The buyer sent the head back so I could make a repair. Rather than try to re-install the original eyes, I opted to start from scratch. I built a self-centering mechanism using hand-painted wood balls. The result is that the eyes look better and work better. I used furniture feet pads to quiet the mechanism inside the head. Today I'll install the new eyes using glue and Magic-Sculpt to anchor them solidly and permanently.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

A new beginning

Though I may make the occasional conversion figure by request, my intent is to stop. I'm slowly and methodically working on sculptures that I can use to make molds. I plan to work on three or four character models. I plan to specialize in 34-35" figures, though I may eventually work on a couple of 40" figures, too.

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

Convention video blog

Though I've had some recent disagreements with a few forum contributors at Ventriloquist Central, I still very much like Dan Willinger's site. He is filing online video reports from the VentHaven Convention. He summarizes the day's activities, the performances he's enjoyed, and previews upcoming activities. He does a very nice job. Click HERE to go to the convention reports.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

I caught a break

You may recall that I refurbished a Charlie McCarthy conversion figure that I bought on Ebay. My primary purpose was to examine the mechanics. The little fellow came to me in pieces, but I was able to repaint him, remount his original eye mechanics and provide a good wig. After his clean-up, he was purchased by a fellow who had earlier bought my "Carlisle" figure.

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

Hellllooooooo... anybody there?

No news is sometimes good news. And sometimes no news is no news. This post is somewhere in between, I suppose.

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

Two sides

The jaw has been reshaped to fit the jaw opening in the head. I still need to sand the jaw here and there to get the mouth to close perfectly, but you can see the direction this guy's heading. To Assisted Living! I also added ears with giant ear lobes. Again, it's that cartilage thing. I want it to appear as though he has no teeth, so I etched little wrinkles above and below the mouth opening.

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

A matter of degrees

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.