Monday, August 29, 2011

Flapping my wings home

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Nose bleed

Our view from our seats at the ball game

Friday, August 26, 2011

On the road

Lake Tahoe

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The three of us

This photo of me and my best buddies (Pete and Paul) was shot by Paul's 94-year-old mother.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

24 Willie Mays Plaza

Where I was tonight.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Tool time

A nice email:
I am sending a photo of some of the tools I use when sculpting. I found that using the emery board in the photo to smooth sand Magic Sculpt works great with different grits. I have about 50 of the small files you see, and 15 of the sculpting tools that look like dental tools. The two items you see with the blue tape in the ends are a coping saw blade and a small hacksaw blade that I use for sawing out mouths and cutting off the back of the heads. I taped them to have something to hold on to.

Thanks again for your excellent information!
- Dick Buechler

Monday, August 22, 2011

It's gettin' ugly

No doubt about it.  This guy is ugly.  And he has a new chin.  I didn't like the other one.  Not sure I made him any prettier.  In fact, I'm sure he's not prettier. 

I bet he smells, too.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Lots to chew on

I want to show you the 3T jaw with a 1/8" tube secured at the back with Magic-Sculpt.  Next I'll cut a 4-inch length of 3/32" brass rod for the axle.  Using Klean-Klay, I'll temporarily install the jaw in the head to check the motion and to see where I need to fill or cut the mouth opening on the head. 

I'm not a dentist, but I think my new 3T character has too many teeth on the bottom.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

I'm in

I cut the trap door in my 3T head.  I poked out the eyes and cut away the cover over the mouth opening.  Next step will be to smooth the edges of the cuts with my Dremel. 

There's so much room in there, I even heard an echo! (even heard an echo!)

Friday, August 19, 2011

He's here

I'm very happy with the quality of the casting from Braylu Creations.  There are a few small fills here and there, but I think prep on this head will be pretty easy. 

First thing I'll do is cut the trap door.  I know it will look cavernous compared to 2T heads.  That will be fun and challenging at the same time. I know the specs of all of my 2T parts. I'll be starting over with this head.  Rods, tubes, trays, dowels... all of 'em will be bigger. 

One thing that will be smaller is the length of the neck.  I think I made it too long, so I'll trim it down by about 3/4-inch.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Fully formed

It's taken a whole year, but my first full-size head is finally complete and on the market.  (Sort of.Braylu Creations is now taking advance orders for the castings with a target delivery date of October 1st.  Now, it's not that owner Buzz James needs a month and a half to get some made. 

It's actually my fault. 

You see, I want him to wait until I've had a chance to build the very first finished figure, Serial# 00001.  My casting is on the way to me now.  I'll get to work right away.  And of course, I'll share my adventure.  I'm so used to working inside 2T heads, a 3T head will feel like working in an airplane hangar.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

More bummed

I've been painting figures today.  My Elmore hobo got three-day-old  whiskers today.  (He'll look better with eyes).

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Old hat

I took a Charlie McCarthy vent doll top hat, roughed it up, and aged it by painting it with raw umber acrylic paint.  This hat will be worn by my Elmore hobo character.  I'll use a length of ribbon for the hat band.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The underside

I still enjoy making conversion figures.  I offer three conversion dummies on my website, Stanley, Grampa Carl and Andy.  I do very little or no altering of the face on these figures,  I go with the standard Charlie McCarthy face, but with solid professional mechanics inside.

One thing you'll notice on a newly manufactured Charlie McCarthy doll is that the mouth doesn't open very wide.  To make the jaw open wider, I mark the underside (with a pencil) where the open jaw touches the bottom of the neck opening.  Then I mark the closed jaw where the underside of the jaw touches the neck opening. 

After that, I cut away the area between the two marks. I cut the front underside about 1/8th of an inch farther than the mark  Pop the jaw back in the head and it will open farther.

Of course, you can't leave a gaping hole in the jaw, so I stuff wadded-up paper towel inside the jaw (from the hole in the back to serve as a barrier) and form a smooth depression with Magic-Sculpt.  Then I sand and prime.  A little more light sanding and it's ready for the next phase. 

Oh yeah, after the Magic-Sculpt dries, I pull out the wadded-up paper towel with a pair of hemostats.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Conversion version

After building my first figure with a Fred head and parts from puppetsandprops, I used Charlie McCarthy vent doll heads as armatures and sculpted new faces on top of them using Magic-Sculpt.  I started selling the figures and got a little flack from the vent community for not declaring them as "conversion figures". (In my defense, I'd never heard the term before.  I'd been out of touch with ventriloquism for decades. Heck, I thought I was the first person in the world to make 'em like that).  But I don't mean to rehash an old debate.  Rather I want to point out that it was a great way for me to begin makin' dummies.  I learned a lot sculpting happy, sad, mean, young and old figures. 

Dick Buechler did the same thing.  He purchased a Standard head from Braylu Creations and sculpted the head on the right over the head on the left.  He changed the age, race, and personality.

The big issue with using a Magic-Sculpted head for the final figure?  Weight.  The more Magic-Sculpt, the more weight.  That's why it's even better to make molds and castings from your sculpture, then make the dummy from the lighter casting.  Plus you can make more of 'em! 

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Add vent

As I've discovered new vents, I've slowly added names to my "Ventriloquists" list of links. Margaret Davis is the newest addition.  She mentioned on Facebook that she has a new website, and a nice website it is, too. 

If you are a performing ventriloquist and you have a link to your website or blog, please let me know so I can add your name, too. 

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Hand in demand

Buzz James from Braylu Creations is offering some new 2T hands.  These hands are hollow, lightweight and don't require sanding. They're made of hard plastic, Caucasian in color and they can be painted.

The hands are 2" wide x 3" long from finger tips to wrist with a 5" overall length.

Sanding is my least favorite job, so I expect to be ordering a few pair. I'll let you know how it turns out.

Friday, August 05, 2011


This feller is destined to ride the rails, travel the backroads, trade jokes for pop cans. (Actually, I hope his new partner will do much better than that).

 He's an Elmore head... heading to hobo-dom.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Home alone

Alone for the moment.  Joyce has gone to the library as we both decompress from a weeklong road trip. Me? I'm busy in the workshop about to go outside and do some gardening.  But before I do, here's a look at painted heads.  Fascinating, huh? LOL.  Anyway... I had an extra wire-mesh shelf.  I was about to fold it up and take it to the garage when I realized it would make a nice drying rack for my jaw pieces.  And it does!

That's all I have to report today.  But it's nice to be home makin' dummies.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

On the road

No, these are not Axtell characters . These two pelicans were grooming themselves outside Domenico's Restaurant in Monterey.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

On the road

The view from the wharf at Monterey Bay.

Monday, August 01, 2011

On the road

Lost Hills. Really. That's the name.