Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Newly coolie


I have completed my second Asian figure for a client.  Rather than order a cone-shaped coolie hat (which might cover too much of his face), I found a style that looks very Asian, but has a flatter brim.  He has side-to-side self-centering brown eyes and raising eyebrows. 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A good pupil


Sawed-off iris post
No pupils
The 1.25" eyes from Braylu require some alteration of the plastic irises so that they fit into the eyeball without interfering with the axle.  You see, the posts behind the plastic irises extend slightly into the axle hole.  So here's what I do about it.

I use a small fine-toothed saw to cut off about 1/8" from the back of the plastic post.  The deal is when you do that, you also remove the black pupil of the iris.  That's because the pupil is actually a reflection of some black paint at the very end of the post. 

To replace the black pupil, I lightly sand the cut-off area of the post.  Then I use a black Sharpie to color the end of the post.  I also color the sides of the post so there's a thin ring around the sides.  Then when I turn the eyes around, there's a new black pupil, and the irises will fit in the 1.25" eyeballs without the posts interfering with the axle.

Sharpie-colored posts

Pupils restored

Friday, May 25, 2012

Where is he now?

Anyone know what became of young ventriloquist Kerwin Massey?

Thursday, May 24, 2012


I'm finishing up an Asian figure for a client.  He wanted the figure to look more like a 19th century coolie than a Chinese mystic.  I have a nice straw coolie hat coming to complete the effect.  Soon he'll be on his way to Canada.

Monday, May 21, 2012


Believe it or not, this chaotic tangle of strings will actually sort themselves out.  When the knots are glued, the excess trimmed, the cords guided through their appropriate holes, and attached to their various levers, they will actually make this figure come alive.

(One more pulley to install and the mechanics will be done!) 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Make a hole

I'm preparing a casting of a muscle-bound body from Braylu Creations for a client's figure.  The casting comes with an open back, but with no hole for the neck.  So I measured the diameter of the neck hole in a wood body (2-1/4"), drew a template on paper, cut it out, placed it on the muscle body and marked the circle.  Then I drilled a series of small holes around the circumference of the marked area.  After that, I used my small clippers to cut an area large enough to insert a saw blade.  I cut around the area and made a hole.

The next step was to use my Dremel to smooth the edges.  Eventually I will cover the hole with soft fleece material so the head will turn smoothly.  The soft fabric will have an "X" slit in the center so the control stick can be lowered into the body.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

You might want to tape this

Ventriloquist Bill DeMar does a very funny bit by having a member of the audience tape his mouth shut. Find out how you can learn the secret of this routine by CLICKING HERE.

Monday, May 14, 2012

It's a small world

Before making ventriloquist figures, I was into electric trains. I built an N gauge Sierra Nevada mining town. But it pales in comparison to Miniatur Wunderland. Take a look...

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Brown eyes

These days it's difficult to find truly dark brown irises for a figure's eyes.  The best available are actually a lighter amber color.  Some folks paint the back of the irises with Raw Umber acrylic paint, but I prefer to paint the indentations in the eyeballs.  I think the irises look more natural that way.  Of course, I have to be very careful not to paint the white part of the eyeball.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Shop 'til I drop

It feels good to be back in the shop.  I have two special-order figures to complete.  One is a "Mr. Wong", but with black hair, beard and mustache.  The other is an "Uncle Earl" who will be transformed into a rather unique character.  I don't want to give it away because my customer might want to keep it under wraps. 

I don't have much else to report except to say my blinker project is on hold until I receive a set of styrene blinkers from Braylu Creations.  My ping pong ball blinkers didn't work out.  As I said when I started this, it'll be one step forward, two steps back... maybe even three... or four...

Thursday, May 10, 2012

I'm back

I've returned from my trek to the San Francisco Bay Area to attend a family gathering.  It was loads of fun.  Lots of music and merryment.  I didn't bring back any puppets per say.  The closest thing was this Sergio Romo bobblehead which I got for being among the first 20,000 at the Giants-Brewers game at AT&T Ballpark.  (Happy to say the Giants won). 

I also bought a new guitar (my third).  But now it's back to work.  I have a couple of special orders to turn out... a version of Mr. Wong and an interesting twist on a full-size Uncle Earl.  Photos to come.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Hall of Fame

I received my "Hall of Fame" collector coin set from Clinton Detweiler today. They are gorgeous coins. I plan to frame the set along with other Detweiler collector coins I have and display them in my workshop.

Nicely done, Mr. Detweiler.

I'll be on the road this week, so my postings may be more travelogue than dummy-makin'.