Sunday, August 30, 2009

A sharp stick

Buzz James of Braylu Creations and I have been trading ideas for a new headstick design using PVC pipe. I have been trying to reduce the amount of woodworking in my figure building because of the limitations of my in-home workshop. Here are some photos of what Buzz came up with.

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

Writing jokes that make me blush

A performing ventriloquist (yes, there are non-performing ventriloquists... like me) threw out the net on a ventriloquism forum for help with writing a routine. The ventriloquist is gay and all of his characters are gay, too. He sent me a photo of the four figures and a description of their personalities. I decided to write some jokes for a purple furry fellow named "Stan".

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

Three amigos

Here are three fellas I'm currently working on. The guy on the left is a special order. He's my "Arnie" character with an African-American skin tone. He'll get black hair and brown eyes instead of the brown hair and blue eyes shown on my website.

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

Using our heads

I've had a lot of fun trading ideas, drawings and photos with Buzz James, owner of Braylu Creations. We've been working on plans for making the next batch of control posts for me. I have an opportunity to help with the design because I'm switching from a wood headstick to a PVC pipe headstick. I want to run all of the mechanics down the center of the PVC pipe. Buzz is very helpful with his advice. We've both been trying to think outside the box, and we think we have an interesting approach to the headstick. He's sending me a prototype to work with, and if it's a successful design, he'll make all of my headsticks that way. I'm kinda excited about this!

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Gotcha covered

Here's what Mr. Winkle looks like after applying the Magic-Sculpt over the foam. The forehead is a little more textured than I'm used to, but I think it's going to work out fine. I used the foam rods on his jowels, too. That worked great.

This version of Mr. Winkle will sport more detail on his baggy eyes.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Anonymous experiments

This scary lookin' freak is actually a victim of my most recent experiment. (If you hear a spooky Vincent Price laugh in the distance, don't be alarmed). One of my blog readers named "Anonymous" occasionally gives me excellent advice and tips to try. The latest suggestion was to use Poly Foam Caulk Saver to make wrinkles and save weight. The material comes in a roll of 3/8" foam rod, which I measured out and cut in half. Then I hot glued the foam on the forehead (flat side down) to create wrinkles. I'll cover the foam with as thin a layer of Magic-Sculpt as possible. I've either discovered a wonderful new technique or really screwed up my project. The beauty of it is that it really doesn't matter!

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

Nailed it

The styrofoam carving didn't work as well for the ears. I still think it has possibilities. Rather than use a ball, I think it would be better to carve an ear shape from a thinner styrofoam rectangle. I'll check out the craft store to see if they sell something close.

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!)