Saturday, December 27, 2008

Reverse engineering

As I mentioned in the previous post, this refurbishing project has been frustrating, though quite instructional. The latest "lesson" will require me to rip out the eyes, salvage what I can, and reinstall a pair of eyes using lighter springs. The heavier springs I mentioned in the last post are just too heavy. It's difficult to move the eyes side-to-side comfortably.

I'll cut the eyebrow cords because the pulley system is mounted in the back of the head. I'll remove the back of the head, but I won't have to separate the head from the headstick. Nor will I have to alter the jaw control or the side-to-side eye control swivel system. Nonetheless, tearing out the eye tray will not be easy. Hopefully I can do it without damaging anything else (or me).

Friday, December 26, 2008

Post time

This project has been frustrating at times. When working with my Charlie conversion figures, I'm used to the tolerances when building and installing the mechanics. But the Lovik figure has presented new challenges throughout the process. In the end I think he will turn out extremely well.

Among the differences; I used a large wood knob on the end of the side-to-side eye control. The springs I used behind the eyeballs are heavier and require more torque to move them. The larger wood knob makes it easy to apply the necessary pressure. The spring attached to the jaw is much shorter than the length I use for my conversion figures. It took three or four tries to get the right tension. (Lots of cussin' was involved).

I also used hot glue to fortify the spring attachment points. Hot glue was also applied to attach the back of the head. I always seem to burn my fingers when I mess with hot glue. I much prefer Elmer's. But in this case, hot glue was the better choice.

After the Magic-Sculpt dries around the post/neck connection, I will:
  • Paint the Magic-Sculpt neck connection with flesh-tone
  • Connect the cords to the levers and fortify the knots with Elmer's Glue
  • Cover the brass eyebrows with Magic-Sculpt and texture it to look like hair
  • Apply the "stage make-up" paint detailing
  • Re-attach and paint the ears (Now where did I put 'em?)
  • Choose, trim and apply a wig

I also need to dress the body in new clothes. Hmmm. I wonder what he's gonna wear.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Happy Holidays!

May the season's blessings be yours, your family's and your puppet's.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

An eyebrow raiser

Here's a snapshot of the interior of the Lovik figure's back of the head. I installed a brass rod and tube axle that functions like a pulley for the eyebrow cords. The cords are draped over the brass tube, which turns when the cord is tugged. The cord ends are attached to the eyebrow rods on one end, and the lever on the other.

By the way, I'm not sure how I'm gonna cover the large round hole in the back of the head. When the Lovik figure arrived, it was covered with a combination of duct tape and hot glue. Looked kinda messy.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Designing in a vacuum

My upgrade and refurbishing project of the Craig Lovik figure has introduced me to yet another method of making ventriloquist figures. The head was created using a vacuum-form machine. The mouth was also created that way. The jaw was formed in two pieces that fit together, the outside and the inside portions of the jaw, one on top of the other. I think the whole design is very clever.

My understanding is that one must design the vacuum-form mold with no undercuts. That really limits the facial features one can design. But Craig Lovik has come up with a very pleasing character and there are no undercuts in the entire design. Very cool.

Another example is on Clinton Detweiler's blog today, Newsy Vents. He's refurbished and "aged" a female Lovik figure. Clinton also mentions the vacuum-form process.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Eyes front

Here's a peek at the installed eyes. They move fluidly side to side. I've glued the eye tray to the Magic-Sculpt platforms and used a touch more Magic-Sculpt to anchor them in place. The next step will be to install a brass tube and rod pulley system near the top of the back of the head (currently unattached) . Cords attached to the eyebrow rods will be draped over this pulley system. I'll take a photo of that when it's done.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Behind those eyes

Time to place the eye tray in the Lovik figure. I use Magic-Sculpt on both sides of the eye tray to form the platforms. I usually pull the eye tray out after the Magic-Sculpt dries so I can access and install other mechanisms. Later I reinstall the eye tray on the platform and secure it to the platforms with glue and a touch of Magic-Sculpt.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Back on track

Before I started making eyes with printed irises, I made some pairs with plastic irises. These are 1-1/2" eyeballs versus the 1-1/4" eyeballs I use for my conversion figures. This pair will be installed in the Lovik figure.

I was slowed down more than I anticipated by the injured finger this past week. I'm back on track now.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

The blood of my brows

I sucessfully installed the brass eyebrows. They're made of brass tubes incased in Magic-Sculpt in the interior of the head. Then brass rods are bent into a hook on one end, inserted through the brass tubes and bent in the shape of eyebrows. Then the hooks in the interior of the head are joined by a small steel spring.

The part that really hurts is my finger, which I managed to cut badly. It seems I do this every couple of months. At least my wound didn't require another trip to the emergency room.


I've shipped "Herman" to Texas. I understand he's going to be placed under the Christmas tree. He'll look cute in a ten-gallon hat.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Totally tubular

The eyebrow tubes have been installed in the Lovik figure. I drilled little indentations in the head so that the Magic-Sculpt would have something to cling to. (You can see some of them just above the eyebrow tube).

I had to be very careful to keep enough clearance for the eyeballs. I'll be using 1-1/2-inch wood knob eyeballs with plastic irises. They'll clear the eyebrow tubes by just a skosh.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Down in the mouth

Work and holiday preparation is stealing time from my dummy makin'. Nevertheless I was able to afix the mouth to the Lovik figure. I've also completed some basic painting. Next come the eyes and eyebrow mechanics. Could be a little tricky with the new surfaces and internal distances. In the end, though, I think he's going to be quite a cutie.