Saturday, December 26, 2009
And I got some really cool stuff.
Among my "ill-botten gootie", I received some underwear (boxers... I know... too much information), V-neck undershirts, a gorgeous cardigan sweater handmade by my power-knittin' wife Joyce, and a magnifier/lamp for my workbench.
Of course, I'm very excited about the lamp. I assembled it and attached it to my workbench. For about an hour I would sit back and admire it as I worked. My oh, my, what a wonderful tool!
And then it occurred to me.
Maybe I should actually turn it on!
Thursday, December 24, 2009
I was watching a video about a local myrtlewood factory. I noticed that the craftsman had a powerful vacuum nozzle mounted just above the piece he was sanding. The vacuum sucked away most of the debris.
As I've mentioned before, I build my dummies in a bedroom in the house. When I sand or grind, the particles fly around the room and I'm left with a lot of vacuuming. When I saw the aforementioned video, a light went on in my head. (ding!)
I visited the local tool store, but didn't find anything inexpensive that would do the trick. Then I got on the web and poked around. That's when I found the gizmo in the picture. It was only $20. The clamps are very strong. They clamp to my work bench and the ShopVac attachment quite securely. Now when I sand or grind, most of the debris will be sucked into my ShopVac. (Of course, along with my gas mask and eye protectors, I'll have to add earplugs. I'm looking more Hazmat everyday).
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Wednesday, December 09, 2009
None of those caught my fancy. So I asked myself... what is shaped like a human head... but is slightly smaller... is hollow... and has all of the anatomical features in the right place? Hmmmmmmm. What could I use?
I KNOW! A skull! God used it with some success. Maybe I can, too! Does Ebay sell skulls? Why, yes they do. And mine arrived today!
Not to put too fine a point on it... actually somebody else's skull arrived today. My skull is still in use. (I need it for scratching.)
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Friday, November 27, 2009
One step forward... two steps back.
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Monday, November 23, 2009
Friday, November 20, 2009
If you're planning to build a figure, consider using Braylu's PVC pipe headstick with these new triggers. They work great and look great. (And no, nobody paid me to say that.)
Saturday, November 14, 2009
By the way, name suggestions are welcome!
Saturday, November 07, 2009
Sunday, November 01, 2009
I'm very excited about "Uncle Earl" for a couple reasons. First of all, I really like the way he turned out. Secondly, he's the first figure I've made from a casting of a sculpture I did. Buzz James of Braylu Creations made the mold and produced the casting. He's also selling castings of "Uncle Earl" as the first in what we're calling the "Kenny Croes Collection". (A second character will be added soon).
This "Uncle Earl" figure will be auctioned on Ebay starting later this evening.
Saturday, October 31, 2009
Saturday, October 24, 2009
"Hey", I said to myself, "I really needed these!"
Thursday, October 22, 2009
The good news is that Mike will spend more time building figures, a passion he has honed into a splendid art form. He states that he'll still be available for advice. I imagine we'll still see his name and comments in the forums.
I admire Mike Brose's work and contributions to the vent community. I wish him well and really look forward to seeing his future creations.
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
I think he'll be ready to slide down someone's chimney soon.
Monday, October 12, 2009
Saturday, October 10, 2009
But here's a progress report.
My project for the 10-year-old entrepreneur is going along quite well. I'm using a Braylu casting for the head. I've cut out the jaw and added sidewalls and a platform for the lower teeth and tongue. Now I'm working on the eye sockets and I've installed the brass eyebrow tubes. I've added the first layer of Magic-Sculpt to the under-portion of the jaw so that it will open and close without showing too much space.
My Elmore sculpture is almost finished. After some sanding, he'll be shipped to Buzz James at Braylu Creations for mold-making. Buzz will be selling Elmore castings as the second in the so-called "Kenny Croes Collection".
My Santa is also nearing completion, though he's presented a few challenges. I think he'll turn out fine, but not without some consternation.
In between, I'm sanding and painting hands so the body assembly can be completed.
Oh... and in between that, I go to work every day.
Sunday, October 04, 2009
Someone (I hope) will decide to take in "Mr. Winkle" after winning the auction on Ebay. I warn you, he's as crotchety as ever. Will someone claim him for their own? Only time will tell.
Saturday, October 03, 2009
The jaw I mentioned is pictured to the left. Teeth and tongue have been added. I did a bit more jaw-opening adjustment last night. Just one more "plug and play" addition to the head, and I'll be ready to start sanding. I want to add side walls inside the jaw opening with slide-in slots for the tube n' axle placement.
My first Uncle Earl, now being built with the Braylu-supplied casting from my sculpture, is well underway. He's been painted and the eyebrow mechanics have been installed.
I'm also nearing the final stages of my Santa Claus figure.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
The easy (as in fun-easy) has been sculpting the nose, ears, forehead, eye sockets, etc. The really challenging part has been scuplting and fitting the jaw. Besides wanting to end up with a good look and a good fit, I've wanted to understand how I got there so I can do it again. After trial and error, study, trial and error... error... (and many bad words), I've made a jaw that fits well and looks good, too. And I think I can do it again. I'm not ready to give y'all a peek just yet. But soon I'll post a photo.
Saturday, September 26, 2009
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
And that's not all.
The young fellow is a state champion second-degree blackbelt in Taekwondo, sports a mohawk haircut , and performs as a ventriloquist. Yes, he's a very impressive young man.
I have a feeling I'll be making a first hard figure for someone who'll be rich and famous someday.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Saturday, September 19, 2009
I'm sculpting a new head for Braylu Creations. He'll be a goofy guy somewhat resembling Elmore, the fella in the video below (and for sale on Ebay, by the way). I was saving the jaw sculpting and placement for last because I thought it would be the most difficult part and I wanted to have fun first.
So I finish the second ear and begin to stroke my chin in wonderment about the jaw. Then it hits me. I've sculpted the head... completely. What's worse, the back of the head had been sawed off, but I glued it back on so I could Magic-Sculpt the entire pate. "How am I gonna get inside the head to place the jaw?" I ask myself while slapping my forehead with an open palm.
So this morning, I took my hacksaw and sawed off the back of the head... again. Fortunately, I accomplished the task without doing too much damage to my previous efforts.
By the way, I also started work on my first "Uncle Earl" from the Braylu casting. I'm pretty excited about that. (There's a casting for sale on Ebay, too!)
Saturday, September 12, 2009
Say "hi" to Elmore. He's named that because the MORE he talks, the MORE "L" he creates. (Thank you, Paul Winchell). Soon he will be looking for someone's world to confuse and complicate. If you think he'd be perfect in your world, you can locate him soon on Ebay.
Friday, September 11, 2009
Owner Buzz James is sending me the first castings so I can build a complete figure. We'll add a photo of a completed figure and possibly a video, too. Braylu Creations also can sell you everything you need from head to toe to make a completed figure of your own.
Of course, a collection intimates that there is more than one item. So I'm feverishly working on a model for a second character. As they say... COMING SOON!
Monday, September 07, 2009
Saturday, September 05, 2009
In the end, the holes nearest the top worked best. I also drilled two holes at the end of the triggers for the cords, but the angle was too severe. So I re-drilled holes in the center of the triggers and that angle worked much better. I had to drill two because I double-up on the cords and the width of the trigger wouldn't allow for a hole large enough to thread two strands. The double-hole set up works fine, however. I'll smooth the edges of the triggers with my Dremel for more finger comfort. You can also see the hole at the bottom of the pipe where I’ve inserted a rubber band for attaching to the eye hook in the body to keep the head erect.
I really like this new headstick design. Want to try one out? They're available now at Braylu Creations, and they're very reasonably priced, too.
Wednesday, September 02, 2009
An unnamed friend in the vent supply business has offered to make a mold of a head I sculpted and make castings. Then he'll market the castings on his website and sell me castings at a steep discount so I can make and sell completed figures.
I love the idea. As you know if you read this blog, I make conversion figures from Charlie McCarthy toy vent doll heads. To acquire the heads, I used to buy used Charlies on Ebay. Then I was tipped off about a close-out of new Charlie McCarthy dolls at a great price, so I scooped up a bunch. But sooner or later I'll have to start buying them on Ebay again. My arrangement will allow me to make vent figures from castings of my head sculptures, too.
The above headshots might be the first character we try. He's a little different from my Mr. Winkle character, but he's in that generation. One interesting feature of this head is that he has a slight smile on one side of his mouth, and a slight frown on the other. If I recall correctly, Paul Winchell liked Jerry to have a smile slightly bigger on on side than the other. This figure will also use larger eyes (1-1/2").
Sunday, August 30, 2009
Buzz sends me the pipe with neck transition attached, the top cap, the triggers and screws to mount them. I drill all the holes, cut the slot and assemble the stick.
Though the photos show the use of rubber tubing, I've actually 86'ed the rubber tubing. I use doubled-up cords and the tubes were too small. I do insert the brass tube n' rod eye control in a clear plastic tube, however.
The brass n' rod eye control will be secured at the top with a little Magic-Sculpt.
To secure the eye control at the slot, I have inserted ethafoam. The sharp-ended screws that mount the triggers penetrate the ethafoam and hold it in place.
This is still a work in progress (as you can see by the extra aborted holes drilled in the stick), but this first one is pretty close.
The final test will be attaching the stick to the head and seeing how smoothly the controls operate the mechanics.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
The ventriloquist likes to perform adult humor and even encouraged gay jokes. Not being gay, I was concerned I might offend accidentally, but he told me to go for it. So I wrote a short routine with double entendres, a little shock here and there and some general goofiness. Well... the ventriloquist actually liked it! So I've begun to add to the routine so that the act might eventually run for 10 or 15 minutes.
But I gotta say, I'm not used to writing or performing raw humor, so I find that I'm embarrassing myself. (But I'm also giggling).
At the same time, another ventriloquist who performs for kids and Christian audiences has asked for some funnies. Talk about switching gears!
Friday, August 21, 2009
The old feller in the middle is familiar to some. He's another incarnation of "Mr. Winkle". He has a few new features, but he's basically the same old curmudgeon.
Finally, the silly fellow on the right is a new face in my stable of characters. He's a goofy-looking fellow in the tradition of... well... goofy-looking fellows.
I'm about to start a 4th figure. The character? Santa Claus!
Saturday, August 15, 2009
Saturday, August 08, 2009
This version of Mr. Winkle will sport more detail on his baggy eyes.
Friday, August 07, 2009
Tuesday, August 04, 2009
Mr. Winkle will contradict every little thing his new partner utters. And he will do so in Kansas, the very center of America's heartland. Hope the old grouch enjoys his new home.
Sunday, August 02, 2009
Meanwhile, I cut out an ear shape from a thin sheet of styrene plastic. I drilled two holes in the styrene ear and used Magic-Sculpt like a nail to secure it over the Charlie ear. After the Magic-Sculpt dried, I covered the stryrene with Magic-Sculpt to form the ear. There was some weight savings because this tact allowed me to make a bigger ear with less Magic-Sculpt.
Saturday, August 01, 2009
No, not wood. You may recall my diatribe about woodworking. Nothing against it. It's just that it's messy and not an appropriate activity for my bedroom workshop. No, I'm talking about carving styrofoam.
As you know, I've been trying out different ways to reduce weight in my dummy heads. I've tried using strips of foam padding with mixed results. But this time I tried something new.
I used a styrofoam ball sold in craft stores. I cut it up and carefully carved it into a rough shape of a nose. I carved the back of the styrofoam nose so it would contour and fit when glued to the top of the Charlie nose. I carved the nose so it would be larger than my intended finished size.
After the Elmer's Glue dried overnight and the styrofoam nose was secure, I carved it further so the size and shape would be slightly smaller than I wanted. Then I covered the styrofoam nose with Magic-Sculpt. The result is a large nose, the center of which is mostly air and styrofoam. It turned out pretty good.
Next I'm going to try it on the ears. (I'm so excited!)
Sunday, July 26, 2009
My Dremel tool gets a real workout.
Saturday, July 25, 2009
Monday, July 20, 2009
Adios, little fella.
Sunday, July 19, 2009
I use a Nikon digital camera on a tripod so I can shoot without a flash. That way his color is captured more richly. I also prefer to use a timer so the camera doesn't shake when the photo is snapped. Besides having photos of him for the auction, I also get detailed photos of him for archiving.
After the still photo shoot, I set up a Canon FS10 video camera on the tripod and shoot a couple minutes of me operating the little fella (me off camera). Though audio gets recorded, I don't use it because I like to leave the voice of the character to the imagination of the potential buyer. I edit video for a living, so I'm able to import the video into my computer and produce a final video presentation with a few graphics and simple effects.
I actually enjoy preparation of the visual presentations as much as building the figures.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Like last year, Dan Willinger and Steve Hurst work together to bring us a virtual VentHaven convention experience. Go to Ventriloquist Central to play the audio and video clips of convention activities.
Saturday, July 11, 2009
Though the film showed only isolated scenes of each musical, Avenue Q was my favorite (which features Muppet-like characters-big surprise). Two things about the documentary made the deepest impression on me.
First, there were several scenes showing New York Broadway critics having dinner together and discussing (often ripping) the four shows. I was surprised they socialize frequently. (And my gawd they can be cruel in their comments).
Secondly, I was amazed at how similar the backstage activity and dynamics are to community theatre productions of stage shows. Of course there's a difference in talent and production complexity, but I easily recognized the anxiety, frustration and joy.
Show Business: The Road To Broadway is fun to watch and probably available at your local video store.