Tuesday, April 29, 2008


There are some tasks I enjoy in figure making. I love building, inserting and perfecting the mechanics in the head. I like painting the head. I get a kick out of making the eyeballs. But I don't like making levers.

I cut lengths of 1-1/4-inch long flat brass pieces, mark and drill holes for the axle and string, and twist the ends to a 90-degree angle from each other. For some reason, I don't find it fun. Fitting the levers in the control post slots is a hassle, too. I think it's because I haven't perfected my slot-routing and axle-drilling yet. I've acquired a few new tools and I've thought out a new method that I'll try out on the next control post.

Thought I'd whine a little bit today, though.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Getting old

While I could easily be referring to myself, I'm actually referring to aging a Charlie head. I've wanted to make an "old guy" conversion character for quite some time. In doing so, I've wanted to use as little Magic-Sculpt as possible to alter the face. Magic-Sculpt is a wonderful substance, but too much of it can add an objectionable amount of weight.

So I've been studying people's faces (including my own), and observing the work of other figure makers to identify the facial areas that could be slightly altered to age the face. Here's my checklist:
  • Add small bags under the eyes that trail off to the outside corners of the eyes
  • Create small "crows feet" at the corner of the eyes. The charlie heads already have a couple of wrinkles there.
  • Use small rolls of Magic-Sculpt that span the width of the forehead. Stack them across the forehead one on top of another from the hairline to the eyebrows. The areas in between each roll become wrinkles.
  • Add a small amount of Magic-Sculpt on the side of the jaw openings to create jowls.
  • Add a small roll of Magic-Sculpt from the corners of the mouth to just below the cheeks to create another pair of small jowls.
  • Add a small ball of Magic-Sculpt to the earlobes.
  • Add an upside-down "V" on the neck to suggest a "turkey-neck".

The list may suggest a lot of Magic-Sculpt, but actually the amounts are very small. The head will be slightly heavier than a young Charlie head, but not to the point of discomfort.

Painting the wrinkle highlights has also been challenging. While my technique is still not perfect, I think the fellow I'm working on will turn out well. He'll also sport a white mustache, white "Andy Rooney" eyebrows, and a white wig with a receding hairline.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Going down under

"Sheldon" has found a friend in Australia. Thought you'd like to know he won't be an orphan.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Another blog to read

I like finding new ventriloquism blogs, especially those that share experiences in vent figure building. It's fun to hear about the twists and turns of the process as practiced by other figure makers. Ken Souza, Jr. has a blog titled "Adventures In Ventriloquist Figure Making". I really love the look of the figure he sculpted and is casting.

I also was amazed at how his early interest in and later return to ventriloquism paralleled my own experiences.

It's good to know I'm not alone.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Wine, a bathtub and Seattle

I'm posting from the 8th floor of a very nice hotel room in Seattle. The company I work for is having its annual management conference here, so no dummy buildin' tonight. The view is spectacular from my window. In the bathroom, there's even a sunken bathtub right next to the floor-to-ceiling window. So after the sun goes down, I may take a bath overlooking the Seattle nighttime skyline (with a glass of wine, of course).

I hope no one has binoculars in the neighboring buildings. If so, they'll be in for a real disappointment.