Sunday, September 30, 2012

One great kid

I have many great memories from the Vent Haven ConVENTion. Among them is meeting Kevin Barnett and his Mom, Paula, in person. I made the figure in the photo, which Kevin named Kyle. The one difference I noticed immediately was Kevin's haircut. He used to sport a Mohawk just like Kyle.  When I asked Kevin why he grew out his hair, he had a one word answer. "Girls."

Enough said.

Friday, September 28, 2012



I used Free Form Air to sculpt the molded hair on the "Dead Silence-type" figure.  Working with it was a learning experience. I found out a couple of things:
  1. Waiting 30 minutes after the A&B compounds are mixed is a good thing.
  2. After you've waited that 30 minutes, you don't have much time to sculpt before it gets kinda gnarly. It's about the same amount of time you get with Magic-Sculpt. So the lesson is make sure you know where you're headed,
  3. Keep your latex or vinyl-gloved hands wet. (The instructions say vinyl).
  4. It's messy and tends to get all over stuff.
II think my approach will be slightly different next time. I don't think I will make the Magic-Sculpt hairline. Instead I will make rolls of Free Foam Air and drape them across the head to get a better hair texture.  There is actually more wave depth in the hair now than what shows up in the photo, but I think the other approach might have made them smoother.  I'll probably have to do more sanding with this initial method.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Hard hair


Before I can start painting the "Billy-like" head, I have to add the molded hair. As I mentioned earlier, I'll try the Free Foam Air to sculpt the hair. But because it reportedly doesn't stick as well, I'll use Magic-Sculpt for the edges of the hairline, then fill it in with Free Foam Air.  I drew the hair in pencil so I have a guide to follow.

Of course, with molded hair, the trap door must be sealed and the edges hidden. So I put some aluminum foil between the trap door and head. I left a gap in the foil on each side of the head so the trap door could be temporarily glued to the head. I'll sculpt both sides so they line up. Hopefully the result will leave a small gap between the head and trap door.

After the head is painted and the mechanics installed, I'll seal the head and fill the gap around the perimeter of the trap door with Free Foam Air. I plan to leave a small open gap at the nape of the neck where a screwdriver could pry open the trap door for repairs should they be needed..

P.S. My new computer is scheduled to arrive tomorrow. Hurray!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Fills the bill

The verdict is still out on whether or not I like Free Form Air for certain sculpting jobs. But I really like it as a filler. It works well just after mixing the A&B compounds. (As I've mentioned before, it's a little soft and crumbly right after mixing, so it's tough to sculpt with it in that state. Mike Brose suggests waiting 30 minutes so it can dry to a more clay-like substance).  But as a filler, it sands to a smoother finish than the wood fillers I've tried.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Nose Job

I've been hired to build a figure similar to the scary dummy in "Dead Silence". I'm using a Braylu Standard head. The "Dead Silence" figure has a much sharper nose. The bridge is higher and slides straight and down. I used Magic-Sculpt for the nose job.

I may use the new Free Foam Air sculpting compound to make the molded hair. But I'll definitely let the A&B mixture set for at least 30 minutes so it hardens to a more clay-like consistency. It dries to a much lighter weight than Magic-Sculpt. 

I also have to drill the eyebrow holes. Even though the "Dead Silence" dummy has painted eyebrows, my client wants them to move.

Monday, September 24, 2012


This very blonde fellow is finally completed and ready to speed date. He looks like a kid who might be up to mischief most of the time. Or he might be the smartest kid in the class with a vocabulary like a college prosessor. 

Mikey will soon be looking for someone who will listen to (and question him on) his silly shenanigans and/or science experiments.  

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Blue screen of death

Yep. My hard drive went to virtual heaven today. I tried CPR (computer problem reversal), but it's DOA.

Rather than buy and install a new hard drive, I figured it was time to upgrade to a computer manufactured in this decade. It'll arrive in a few days. It'll probably take a few days to reinstall all of my software. So, posting to my blog will be undertaken with my iPhone.

More later...

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


I'm back from another road trip.  This time I went to a rustic lodge near Donner Pass for the Gretsch Guitar Northern California Roundup. Had a good time meeting lots of really good guitar players. Highlight of the trip was meeting Peter Asher, known as half of the British Invasion duo Peter & Gordon. Later he discovered James Taylor, became his manager, and went on to be the architect of the so-called "California Sound". He produced most of the albums by James Taylor, Carole King, and Linda Ronstadt just to name a few. He also was the first person to hear Paul McCartney and John Lennon play their tune "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" moments after they composed it. Pretty cool.

The blond-on-blond punky fellow in the photo is my newest cheeky boy figure.  I worked with yellow faux fur for the first time. The strands are much finer than hair, so it was a little difficult to trim.  I discovered I need to use electric shears to trim it evenly.  In this case, I've kept it at its full length for that punk look.   

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Leg up

Braylu Creations now offers 2T and 3T legs with the lower legs and feet in black. Because they do custom work, you might be able to get any color for a little extra. The two-tone legs are handy because you won't have to buy socks if your figure is going to wear black, gray or navy clothes. It's not that 2T and 3T socks are so expensive.

It's the time shopping for them.  

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Clownin' around

A friend has asked me to complete a conversion figure he started.  It's a Bozo the Clown doll.  After staring at the fellow for a few days, I've made a few initial decisions.  

First, I want to plug the nostrils on the nose and make some new ones on each side.  I'd also like to make the eye sockets bigger, but the eyes have already been installed with Magic-Sculpt.  That won't necessarily stop me from removing them, but if I do, it's a messier job.  

I've never seen a Bozo doll work, but it appears the mouth never really closes.  If that's the case, I have an idea to add a prominent lower lip to make him look blustery or sad.

Gotta love those dimples.

Monday, September 10, 2012

I'm looking through you

I have an assignment to build a "Dead Silence" dummy. I'm using a Braylu Standard head for the project. The Standard head, however, does not have detailed ears. Just earshaped-bumps. So I bought some molded ears for the little fellow. I had to cut off the ear bumps so I can attach the new ears. I may attach some ear-shaped styrene plates inside the head so the ears have more surface to cling to.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Dare to scare

I completed the scary Mr. Winkle for my client. He will be taking part in Halloween festivities soon.

Friday, September 07, 2012

Undid lid

You could probably tell that my first soft blinkers attempt failed.  I removed the chamois.  I still may be able to salvage the project because the frames are intact. I couldn't get the chamois to retract in the head.  (Isn't that what it's supposed to do?) One issue is the Tacky glue didn't make the chamois eyelids significantly stiffer. So they roll up. I think I also need to shave a small bit of room in the eye sockets.

I have another crazy idea. What if I trimmed down the styrene hard shells and reinforced the leather with them?  (Someone please tell me to stop!)

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Blinks jinx

I don't know.  Maybe my figures are not meant to blink. Maybe they're supposed to stare off into the mighty boogie-boogie. Blinking is probably overrated anyway.

For instance...I don't really need to blink.

I'll try not to blink. So what if my eyes water and burn. It's not like the dummy's gonna feel it if he doesn't blink. He might make a smart ass comment as tears roll down my cheeks.

Hard shell.  Soft Leather.  Who needs it.  Not a problem.

(Awwwww!)  I blinked.


Wednesday, September 05, 2012


Got injured yesterday. 

No, I did not do this while working on dummies. (I knew that's what you were thinking).

I went to the dump early yesterday afternoon to unload a truckload of brush. The wind was really blowing. A large truck and trailer pulled up next to me as I was working.  They began to toss out brush and pieces of plywood. A foot-square chunk of partially burnt plywood got caught by the wind and spiraled toward me like a Frisbee bullet. It hit me in the left forearm and cut me up pretty good. I won't go into the emergency room part because it was kinda gross.

Upshot is my tendons and arm muscles are bruised, so it hurts to move my hand and fingers. But it's getting better quickly as I do my chores around the house. I think I'll be able to build dummies, too.

Thank God it didn't hit me in the head or I'd be talkin' about the little birdies I saw yesterday.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012


I enjoyed doing the detailed face painting today on my evil Mr. Winkle.  The stipple technique is fun and effective.  After I install the eyebrows, I'll add the two gross scars I have in mind for the old spook. It's important to do the eyebrow animation first so the scars don't get in the way of their movement.

Meanwhile back at the soft blinker project. I have verified that the chamois is securely glued to the frames.  The frames move in synch.  Next step is to trim the chamois. (Yikes!)

Monday, September 03, 2012


Walkin' the high wire again with this soft blinkers project.  Got a great tip from a reader. I bought some Tacky glue to attach the chamois to the brass frames. I used masking tape to temporarily attach the chamois to the inside of the head. After the chamois is successfully glued to the blinker frames, I'll permanently attach the chamois to the head's interior.  

I didn't get the frame handles exactly the same, but they're parallel and seem to work anyway. They also clear the eyeballs when they move up and down. Rather than attach another piece of brass to both handles, I'm considering using nylon cord. I'll install a single pulley to the inside top front of the head. The cord will then go though that forward pulley, over the rod-and-tube pulley I install for the raising eyebrows, then down the headstick to a trigger. I'm pretty sure the eyebrows won't move when the blinker cord passes over its rod-and-tube pulley. If they do, I'll have to install a second pulley system.  

I'm thinking of attaching eyelashes of some kind to the chamois.  I'm not crazy about leaving just a dark brown strip along the bottom of the blinker as I've seen on other figures with soft blinkers. Or I could leave a little overhang of chamois when I trim the excess from the frame. Then I'd cut little tiny strips and paint them the color of the wig and eyebrows (in Uncle Earl's case... white).  

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Will it waggle?

Yes, I believe it will waggle. It will require some scootin', but I think this soft blinker frame will function.The next step is to add the chamois material as prescribed in Mike Brose's tutorial. I"m wondering what will happen when the cloth is attached and the eye frame opens.The tutorial says it will bunch up. By applying some epoxy glue on the interior side of the chamois, the eyelid will stiffen and (hopefully) roll back into the head when open.

In other words, I'm not outta the woods just yet.  

Saturday, September 01, 2012

I'm going soft

No, I'm not talking to my doctor about Viagra. Nor am I suddenly foregoing Action/Thrillers for Chick Flicks. (Okay, I admit to liking some chick flicks). 

The title refers to soft blinkers.

I have temporarily postponed my hard shell blinkers quest. They're just not working out. Sometimes it takes a while for me to learn a new animation. Once I get it... I GOT it. But hard shell blinkers still befuddle me. So I have regrouped around Mike Brose's Leather Blinkers tutorial on the web. I figured starting with leather blinkers might make it easier for me to grok hard shells.

So far, my step-by-step approach has worked out really well. I Magic-Sculpted tiny little brass tubes in the outside corners of the eye sockets.  I shaped the 1/16" brass rod frames successfully. I made sure the frames opened and closed freely. I checked to make sure the eyes and eye tray would still fit and function without interference, though I will have to cut a slot in the front of the eye tray so the blinker frame handles can move up and down.

I have more steps to go, but I'm confident this is going to work, I'm SERIOUS this time.