Sunday, December 26, 2010
A: I use Stringliner Pro Reloadable #18 Nylon Construction Line, 250’ (1/4lb. 155lb. test). I buy it at my neighborhood True Value hardware store. There may be one in your town, too. If not, it's available online at http://www.hardwareworld.com/250ft-Br-Yellow-Pro-Reel-pEC0SDZ.aspx. I like it because it's strong and doesn't come unbraided when I'm handling it.
Hope that helps. Happy Holidays. - Kenny
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
These old boys are staring each other down for the last time. Mr. Winkle (left) is on his way to Australia to spread some cheer. Mr. Fenster (right) will partner up with a youngster in Pennsylvania.
Mr. Fenster looks a little worried at mean old Mr. Winkle's scowl. He's probably thinking "Good riddance".
Sunday, December 19, 2010
I covered the styrene plastic patch and lined the eye sockets all around with Magic-Sculpt. Even though the left eye socket fit well, I used Magic-Sculpt to line the left eye socket so it matched the apperarance and size of the right socket.
More to come later as I paint the head and fit the eyes with their springs and new prototype synchro bar (courtesy of Braylu Creations).
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
I recently killed my Dremel. Actually it was a Dremel knock-off made by Master Mechanic. It lasted me 4 years and nearly 70 dummies, so I'm not complaining. But to the point, I have a new toy called a Dremel Stylus. It's great for doing clean-up work on new casts. It allows me to be more precise than the larger pseudo-Dremel I exhausted. I still need a larger Dremel (this time I'll buy a real one) for more heavy-duty grinding and such. But I really like this new tool.
Sunday, December 12, 2010
Saturday, December 11, 2010
The "Elmore" head is being altered further to accept 1.5" eyes. I have a spare pair of Mike Brose eyes that I plan to use for this feller. The eye socket on the left was a perfect fit. But the right eye socket needed more space to accommodate the larger eyeball. I plan to install the eye tray and eyeballs, then close up the cut-up side of the head around the eyeball with Magic-Sculpt.
Like some mad scientist, I continue to experiment. (Cue the frightening cackle).
Wednesday, December 08, 2010
Sunday, December 05, 2010
I'm particularly fond of this photo because I worked as a street performer for two years at Fisherman's Wharf in San Franscisco. Street performing is fun and profitable. It's an exciting performance experience to add to one's resume.
I hope Kevin remembered to toss some loose change, a few dollar bills, a $5 bill and a Twenty in the hat before he started performing. It's really important to "prime the pump"!
Saturday, December 04, 2010
Friday, December 03, 2010
We are all in their debt for setting such good examples for us. Their products, advice, and generosity of spirit are well-known. To be given this acknowledgement from such respected and beloved practitioners of vent is an honor.
Friday, November 26, 2010
So that's what I've done to the "Elmore" head in the photo. Who knows. I may do something even more radical. (Eeeeeasy, Kenny).
Thursday, November 25, 2010
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
And at just 34-inches tall, he's small enough to fit down anyone's chimney.
Monday, November 22, 2010
These little fellas are headed in very different directions. Mr. Winkle (l) is about to embark on a long journey to his new home in wintry Norway. Donnie (r) is going south to The OC (Orange County, California) where the weather is almost always sunny and warm.
I think their respective dispositions are well-suited to their destinations.
Sunday, November 21, 2010
Thursday, November 18, 2010
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Sunday, November 14, 2010
Saturday, November 13, 2010
The eye hooks on the side of the eyeballs are for attaching cords, which will be attached to a lever, which will cross the eyes when pressed down.
Friday, November 12, 2010
I use the coat hangers to make the loops in my eye synchronizers. Rather than use expensive brass, I cut the coat hangers in 3-inch lengths, mark the center, and bend them around a metal punch secured in a vise. Then I dip the ends in water, apply some Gorilla Glue, and insert them in the pre-drilled holes in the plastic synchronizers (which are custom-made for me by Braylu Creations).
The plastic bags? When I collect my dry cleaning, the shirts are draped in clear plastic. I save the plastic bags and re-use them to cover my figures for shipping.
Monday, November 08, 2010
I'm building another Santa Claus figure for a client. He admired the Santa I built and sold last year and special ordered a St. Nick for himself. So I had to check my archives to see how the heck I made it. Fortunately I take lots of photos and even a video of every figure I make.
Santa is a conversion figure made from a Charlie McCarthy vent doll. I apply Magic-Sculpt to the forhead, eye sockets and nose to create a new face. Unlike working with molds and castings, I have to visually try to duplicate what I did last time.
We'll see how close I come.
Sunday, November 07, 2010
Sunday, October 31, 2010
Friday, October 29, 2010
So rather than sift through my blog to gather all 10 lessons, Dan and Steve have reprinted them all in one place for easy access. CLICK HERE TO GET TO IT.
Thursday, October 28, 2010
The photo on the left shows the brass rod emerging from the slot in the PVC pipe controller at a 90-degree angle. Notice the Magic-Sculpt just inside the slot securing the brass tube. A jigger handle will be attached to the brass rod.
The photo on the right shows the top of the PVC pipe controller. The brass tube and rod emerging from the pipe runs down the length of the PVC pipe. Again, Magic-Sculpt secures the pipe at the top of the controller. Eventually, the top part of the rod will attach to the eye mechanism inside the head to control the side-to-side eye movement.
Sunday, October 24, 2010
I really like the PVC pipe controllers from Braylu Creations. From photos left to right, here's a description of what I do to prep them for my figures.
- Front: I cut a 3/4" slot. A brass rod, bent at a 90-degree angle, will protrude from that slot. The rod will control the self-centering eyes.
- Side: I drill a hole on the side, from which will emerge one of the cords controlling the jaw or eyebrows.
- Side: I drill another hole on the side, from which will emerge one of the cords controlling the jaw or eyebrows.
- Back: I drill a large hole near the top from which will emerge the cord that controls the crossing eyes. The three smaller holes in the middle area accept the screws and washers that mount the triggers. The larger hole at the bottom is where I loop an elastic band that will attach to an eyehook at the bottom of the body to secure the head.
- Top: I run a brass tube and rod down the length of the PVC pipe to control the self-centering eyes. The rod, as I menbtioned, will protrude at a 90-degree angle from the slot. I use Magic-Sculpt to cement the brass tube and rod contrller to the top of the PVC pipe. The small holes drilled in the top and side act as anchor holes for the Magic-Sculpt. One of the tiny holes located farther out will accomodate a small brass eye hook to which a spring will be connected. The other end of the spring will attach to the jaw. (Note: I also apply Magic-Sculpt to the inside of the PVC pipe just above the slot to secure the lower portion of the brass tube and rod eye control).
Saturday, October 23, 2010
Clifton, a consistently cantankerous old codger, is on his way to Spain. He's sure to be a pain in the neck when discussing most subjects with his new partner. If I get photos of the two, I'll post them.
Friday, October 22, 2010
Wait a minute... what's that on the floor next to the drill press work bench? It's a wood knob. It's an unpainted wood knob. It's an UNDRILLED WOOD KNOB!
I count the number of drilled, primered and painted wood knobs.
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Sunday, October 10, 2010
If you own a Kenny Croes figure, please send along a photo of yourself with your knee pal. I'd be honored to share your story.
Sunday, October 03, 2010
Someday in the future, some aspiring young ventriloquist may be posing backstage with another famous ventriloquist... a grown up Kevin Barnett.
Sunday, September 12, 2010
Saturday, September 11, 2010
Thought you might like to take a look at how I set up my controls. I use a hollow PVC pipe design from Braylu Creations so I can run the mechanics down the center. The nifty triggers for the jaw and eyebrows work smoothly and are easy on the fingers. The jigger controls the left/right eye movement.
I run a brass tube and rod up the PVC pipe secured to the pipe interior with Magic-Sculpt. Then I shove a length of ethofoam tubing, folded in threes, inside the PVC pipe from the bottom. The expanding ethofoam also secures the lower portion of the brass tube and rod where the rod and jigger exit the opening in the PVC pipe.
Tuesday, September 07, 2010
I received it in the mail today, Clinton. Thanks for everything you do for the art of ventriloquism and its artists. I'm smiling as big as the Pocket Puppet!
Monday, September 06, 2010
I hope somebody buys him anyway.
Saturday, September 04, 2010
Actually, I thought I'd pass along my vent figure body prep. I buy my arms, legs and hands from Braylu Creations. Owner Buzz James always marks the center spot on the lower interior where I screw in an eyehook for control post attachment. Then I staple the legs onto the wood body. My exterior padding is a foam pad made for campers to cushion their sleeping bags. I cut several 8"x12" rectangles and staple each one to a body.
Next comes the shoulder padding. I use a soft fleece material, soft-side up, on the shoulders. I cut an "X" over the hole for the head. I glue the padding onto the shoulders with Elmers Glue. Then I staple the arms in place (with hands already attached). The last step adds a foam covering over the soft pad on the shoulders (the same material as the body wrap). Before I staple it in place, I cut a large hole for the head. After stapling it, I cut away the shoulder foam in the areas in the front and in back of the hole for the head. Finally, I stuff a 2-inch length of tubular ethofoam (used for home repair insulation) between the soft pad and the foam shoulder covering to give the shoulders a rounded appearance.
I don't pad the interior. I figure folks can add their own padding or not depending on their preference. (I prefer no interior padding).
And that's how I turn a 'nobody' into a 'somebody'.
Thursday, September 02, 2010
Sunday, August 29, 2010
This little guy is dressed in his Sunday best in hopes of impressing someone. He'll soon be available on Ebay for the winning bidder. He's a take on my "Henry" character, but because he's a redhead, I'll call him "Ricky" for now. But whoever decides to make him his partner wins renaming rights, too.
Monday, August 23, 2010
He probably looks forlorn because he's lonely. That's why he's listed on Ebay. If you can provide a little companionship, then click on the link and place a bid. There's more information about him there. I'm sure he'll repay your kindness by being totally annoying in public everywhere you take him.
Sunday, August 22, 2010
First I paint the wrinkle with a slightly lighter color than the skin tone. Then I paint a thinner line of color that's darker than the overall skin tone. Then to make the wrinkles finer, I touch up the edges with the original skin tone color.
Thursday, August 19, 2010
On our way back home to Oregon from Monterey, we arranged a visit with Buzz James, owner of Braylu Creations. I've been a Braylu customer for several years and we've emailed and Skyped many, many times, but never met. Glad to say Buzz is as nice and as gracious as they come. It was great to finally meet him and shake his hand in-person.
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Q: What size clothes do they wear? And is it without alterations?
A: My guys wear size 2T and don't require alteration (except for the
slit I cut and sew in the back for hand access). Also, sometimes the
shirt necks are a little big, but a paper clip or sewn tab tightens
Sent from my iPhoneo
Sunday, August 08, 2010
I think sculpting faces with uneven features gives the characters more personality. Very few of us actually have facial features on one side of our mugs that are equal to the other side of our mugs.
Keeps us humble.
Saturday, August 07, 2010
According to Wikipedia, the subject of the story eventually got tired of being the straight man while his dummy got all the laughs. So while on a troop ship (he was in the Army entertainment corps), he threw his dummy overboard. No more vent act.
That's one way to end a partnership.
Next step... first coat of skin color.
More photos to come.
Wednesday, August 04, 2010
Let me tell you, Jesse hated this job. And you would too, I imagine, if you had to do it. Jesse was a chicken plucker. That's right.
He stood on a line in a chicken factory and spent his days pulling the feathers off dead chickens so the rest of us wouldn't have to. It wasn't much of a job.
But at the time, Jesse didn't think he was much of a person. His father was a brute of a man. His dad was actually thought to be mentally ill and treated Jesse rough all of his life.
Jesse's older brother wasn't much better. He was always picking on Jesse and beating him up. Yes, Jesse grew up in a very rough home in West Virginia . Life was anything but easy. And he thought life didn't hold much hope for him. That's why he was standing in this chicken line, doing a job that few people wanted.
In addition to all the rough treatment at home, it seems that Jesse was always sick. Sometimes it was real physical illness, but way too often it was all in his head. He was a small child, skinny and meek. That sure didn't help the situation any.
When he started to school, he was the object of every bully on the playground.
He was a hypochondriac of the first order. For Jesse, tomorrow was not always something to be looked forward to. But, he had dreams.
He wanted to be a ventriloquist.
He found books on ventriloquism. He practiced with sock puppets and saved his hard earned dollars until he could get a real ventriloquist dummy.
When he got old enough, he joined the military. And even though many of his hypochondriac symptoms persisted, the military did recognize his talents and put him in the entertainment corp. That was when his world changed. He gained confidence. He found that he had a talent for making people laugh, and laugh so hard they often had tears in their eyes.
Yes, little Jesse had found himself.
You know, folks, the history books are full of people who overcame a handicap to go on and make a success of themselves, but Jesse is one of the few I know of who didn't overcome it. Instead he used his paranoia to make a million dollars, and become one of the best-loved characters of all time in doing it!
Yes, that little paranoid hypochondriac, who transferred his nervousness into a successful career, still holds the record for the most Emmy's given in a single category.
The wonderful, gifted, talented, and nervous comedian who brought us Barney Fife was...
...Jesse Don Knotts.