Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Ugly is as ugly does

I know he doesn't look like much now. And I know he might never look like much. But this is the next step in bringing forth a new personality in foam balls and Magic-Sculpt.

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

Fatter, but losing weight

I may make a mold of this guy when he's done. Maybe I'll finish him as a complete conversion figure.

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.

In the mold of Al Stevens

I've been flirting with moldmaking, but I've been very nervous about starting. Things like mess, fumes, undercuts, and fear of failure have resulted in procrastination. But I have been encouraged by Al Stevens' recent entry on his blog. He describes making a mold of a client's one-of-a-kind figure so that if that figure were ever lost, stolen or damaged, an exact duplicate could be made.

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.

Thanks, Al.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Plastic rap

I mounted a pair of eyeballs on an eye tray and wrapped them in plastic wrap to protect them. I secured the plastic wrap by twisting the wrap tightly and using a paper clip. Then I glued the eye tray to supports (made of Magic-Sculpt) on either side of the head interior. I used just a touch of Elmers Glue so that I can pull out the eyeballs and tray after I've sculpted the eye sockets.

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

So fun it's scarey

I hope headmaker Buzz James of Braylu Creations won't freak, but here's what I've done to his recent creation. No need to panic. I actually DO know what I'm doing.

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

Fill 'er up

I was hoping someone would make a suggestion. Sure enough, Buzz James from Braylu Creations offered some ideas and observations about the hands I made. He thinks the spaces between the fingers will pose a problem when making a mold and casting. So, I filled the spaces with Magic-Sculpt to make it easier to build a mold.

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

Okay... put your hands where I can see 'em

I added Magic-Sculpt to the hands to connect the fingers with the Charlie hands. I think they turned out okay. My wife said the fingertips looked cartoonish, but I actually think that's a plus.

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

The kids

Thought I'd add a photo of "my kids". The four characters on your left are among my favorite vent figures I've built. The two on the top and the fellow bottom left are conversion fogures. The guy on the lower right is a familiar face to fans of Mike Brose and Al Stevens. My "Fred Project" (now called "Jackie") was my first attempt at building a figure.

Now I can't seem to stop.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

All hands

I'm not sure my latest brainstorm is going to work, but I'm too far along to turn back now. As mentioned earlier, I made each finger one at a time mounted on a length of coat hanger. I cut the fingers off a pair of Charlie hands. I stuffed the openings with Magic-Sculpt and inserted each new finger individually onto the hands. After the Magic-Sculpt dries, I'll add more to add flesh to the areas connecting the hands to the fingers. And if that comes out looking okay, I'll sand everything smooth. Hopefully, in the end it'll look good.

If not, there's always the round file.

Getting organized

I have organized my "Links" section into categories. After doing so, the first thing I noticed was how much is missing. It's not that I dropped links, but it's more obvious how many more meaningful links are out there still to be added. Also, I couldn't help but notice that several links would be just as comfortable in more than one category.

Friday, August 10, 2007


I'd show you a picture of what I'm up to, but the little fellas are so small, my camera can't quite focus. Even if the camera could give you a sharp image, the picture would look more like plant sprouts or leeeetle teeeeny phalluses.

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

A start part

Braylu Creations is another excellent source for dummy-making parts and advice. I purchase unpadded 2T wood bodies from Braylu, as well as custom control posts.

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

New Brose character?

If Mike Brose had done nothing but write his book "Figure Making Can be Fun", he would have created an admirable legacy in the ventriloquist world. But he continues to open doorways for people to enter this wonderful art form. By designing, casting and selling his two unique characters, Fred and Little E, he's made it possible for folks to build and perform with a high-quality professional figure.

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

Virtual vent

I was turned on to a very unique website today. It's Click on THE NET DUMMY and a virtual vent figure will appear on your computer screen. He even has controls! You can move his mouth, eyes (self-centering!), raise his eyebrows and even operate winkers and blinkers. It'll make you laugh out loud!