Sunday, March 29, 2009

I hate "it".

I may have complained about this before, but this time I've reached the end of my patience with it. It's messy. It creates dust. It's not the least bit fun. And the results usually require repair, filling, patching and touch-up. I don't do it that well to begin with.

What is it?

"It" is woodworking.

Oh, I can drill a hole or two in a headstick without too much fuss or error. But drilling multiple holes in a row, routing the wood along the line of holes to make a channel, and drilling precise axle holes makes me crazy. I sweat. I cuss. I cuss some more. (Take a breath, Kenny).

What's to be done? I'm thinking of switching to PVC pipe and developing controls that can be mounted on the outside with simple holes drilled in the right places. No routing. No excessive debris. (Less cussing). I've seen a few ideas from the Lovik figure I bought and refurbished. I've also noticed other methods with brass rods and tubes mounted on the exterior of a headstick.

Anyone with some tips and tricks for setting up such mechanisms would be appreciated. Meanwhile I'll be experimenting.

(Yeah, there will probably be some cussing there, too.)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Mr. Winkle's evil twin?

I liked making Mr. Winkle so much that I decided to try to make another one. I take extensive photos of all my little guys for reference. I think I've made a promising start on duplicating my original design.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

A place to retire

Like many an elderly curmudgeon, Mr. Winkle will retire to Florida. Once there, I'm sure he will complain, insult, bellyache, admonish and ridicule to his heart's content. I hope he brings joy and laughter to all who are forced to listen.

I made an ear!

In the past, I've either gone with the Charlie ear on my conversion figures or altered the ear in some fashion. I've actually found a few effective ways to do that. But I haven't made an ear from scratch. I'm not a natural at any of this sculpting, but sooner or later (usually later) I grok what needs to be done.

Now, my ear isn't perfect. But it's quite usable. In fact, I actually prefer less realistic ears on figures since I like the cartoonish or caricature figures best.

Now, the question is, can I do the other ear?

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Mark my word

I always love discovering new tricks. Here's the latest.

I don't have a jig for drilling eyeballs. I'm not a great woodworker, so I've had to make do. Usually I get close enough. Nevertheless, I'm always trying to improve my precision. I use wood knobs that already have a starter hole on the flat side. It's pretty easy to drill that hole accurately the rest of the way through on a drill press. The harder part is drilling a precisely-centered hole on the side where the self-centering springs go. Measuring a rounded edge is really difficult.

Here's what I figured out. If I place two wood knobs flat-side down and touch the two together, the part touching is exactly half-way down. So I took a small piece of paper and drew in a small field of black on both sides of the paper using a Sharpie. Then before the ink dried, I slipped the paper between the two wood knobs flat-side-down and pressed the two together. The wet Sharpie ink made a mark on both knobs exactly in the middle where the two knobs touched.

Now I have my mark to drill the holes for the springs.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


I started.

Sunday, March 15, 2009


I do enjoy making my conversion figures. The part I enjoy most is designing and sculpting the facial features. But now and then, I reach a point when I need to manufacture elements of the figure. To keep a steady flow of figure production, it's better to perform certain tasks in an assembly-line fashion. I usually manufacture five at a time (which I procrastinate).

That's where I'm at today.

(I will start. I will start. I will start.)

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Mr. Winkle

In an earlier photo, Mr. Winkle looked substantially more evil. The wig and thick eyebrows tone down his malevolence to a degree. Now I think he just looks grouchy, which was my intent. His pessimistic charm will be available to the highest bidder beginning tomorrow night on Ebay.


I wonder if the nice folks at the local Goodwill Store think I'm some kind of lurking pervert (a la Aqualung). You see, I browse the store searching for adult wigs and 2T children's clothing. I always feel obliged to mention that I make ventriloquist dummies as I'm checking out. They always respond with a smile and a sigh of relief.

The best deals for dummy clothes are at the local thrift stores. I get really happy when I find two or three nice pairs of size 3 or 4 shoes. I love scoring 2T overalls. And I especially like finding 2T white dress shirts and vests. I also buy clothes on Ebay, but they tend to be more expensive. Since I'm a senior citizen, I always get deep discounts at Goodwill, so that's my favorite source for dummy clothing.

My wife likes to tell our friends how excited I get when I find particularly cute clothes. I'm sure they all think I'm a little weird, but ventriloquists have been putting up with that for eons. I don't think I'm weird.

I'm... unique.

Monday, March 09, 2009

On the face of it

A dear old college friend emailed me. He wrote that he made me one of his Facebook friends. I clicked on the link only to find out that I had to join Facebook in order to be his Facebook friend. I guess a 40-year real friendship doesn't qualify one to bypass the membership. So what the heck. I joined. I was stingy with the personal information, though I left enough of a trail for folks to find this blog.

I think Facebook must be an extension of the game kids play. Lots of kids had invisible imaginary friends. We ventriloquists took the game just a little bit farther. When Facebook folk find their way here, they'll get a gander at the photos of my imaginary friends. When I say I make friends, I really make friends!

Now I have a Facebook profile. (I'll be darned if I know what to do with it.)

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Back to back

Two blogs are active again; Al Stevens and Ken Souza Jr. (Adventures in Ventriloquist Figure Making). Also, there's a video of highlights of Wanlu's ventriloquism act on his blog. It's very enjoyable.

All the links are on the left side of my blog. Have a great day!

Saturday, March 07, 2009

"No dummy 'til you finish your homework!"

I haven't had nearly as much "dummying" time as I'd like due to family medical situations, real job workload and trying to get my income taxes finished for my accountant. Speaking of my accountant, he has the look and demeanor of a turn-of-the-century schoolmaster. I see him at Chamber of Commerce board meetings and he can deliver a shaming vibe with a twitch of an eyebrow.

"I'll see you next week, right?", he said to me last time.
"You bet", I replied.

Well that was two weeks ago.

Guess what I'm doing today.

Monday, March 02, 2009


I'm not sure he'll be singing "Oh What A Beautiful Mornin'", but Uncle Morty is moving to Oklahoma. He'll be entertaining grandkids and friends. He might be a Sooner or he might be a Cowboy.

Either way, he'll be there sooner than later.