Sunday, March 31, 2013

Ugly brothers

I'm doing the dirty, ugly prep work on these two Braylu Standard heads. These guys will eventually become the aforementioned outlaw Buzzard brothers. The one on the left is Joe. He'll be the homelier and more dense-looking of the the two. Ike, on the other hand, will look more dashing and intelligent. Both will have eyebrows that also lower so they can look mean at the appropriate times. I'm using Free Form Air to do the fill work. The noses are Magic-Sculpt.

Friday, March 29, 2013

A collector's item

I'm always delighted to receive photos of my figures with their new partners in their new homes. My cartoony character "Jiggles" was adopted by Italian musician and conductor Giovanni Bartoli. Besides his love of music, he also collects unique puppets as seen in the photo above. It appears that his cute little pup also took a liking to Jiggles. You know the old saying, "If you can't join 'em, lick 'em".

Thursday, March 28, 2013


I un-boxed four heads today from Braylu Creations. From left to right we have a Braylu Standard head, a 2T Uncle Earl, a 3T Blank and another Standard head. Here's what's to become of them:
  • The first Standard head will become a Joe Buzzard outlaw figure. I used my work-a-day Standard head to make a new nose out of Magic-Sculpt that fits right on top of the Standard's nose. I made it wider and flatter like a mug shot of Joe Buzzard when he was an old guy, but still breaking the law. The figure, though will portray him as a younger fellow with a mustache and goatee.
  • The 2T Uncle Earl head will turn into a 2T Uncle Earl figure. He'll probably end up on Ebay unless someone claims him before that.
  • The big Blank will serve as my armature for a 3T (full-size 40") Otis the Moonshiner. I'll attempt to copy the work I've done recently on the 2T Otis the Moonshiner model. 
  • The Standard head on the right will morph into Joe Buzzard's outlaw brother, Ike Buzzard. His nose will be longer and thinner. And under that nose will be a mustache. Both these bad guys will have slight frowns as they apparently were not very nice people.

    So now I have to get to work.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Made the papers

This was an unusual week in that I was interviewed twice. I was interviewed last night via Skype by ventriloquist Tom Crowl for his upcoming video series. I enjoyed talking shop with him, a true professional and a very nice fellow. The World newspaper headquartered in Coos Bay, Oregon also interviewed me this week. They shot some video and took a lot of photos, one of which ended up on the front page. Better to make the papers for a positive reason, (though I wish I'd gotten a haircut). Click here to read the article.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Interview day

Not much to report today... except I'm going to be interviewed by Tom Crowl today via Skype. Should be fun. Meanwhile enjoy this:

Friday, March 22, 2013

The better to hear you

Otis got some big ears today. They stick out pretty far. I love that. He's nearly at the stage where sanding begins. You may notice some cracking in the forehead. After I sand the first time, I'll go back and repair the cracks, then sand again. I thinking he'll be ready for the mold maker in just a couple more weeks

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Working a head ahead

Here's today's progress on the Otis head (left). I worked primarily on the forehead. I added the wrinkled forehead and covered the eyes. I also added a smiling crease in the cheeks.I feel I've learned a lot on this project, both in the areas of anatomy and sculpting approaches.

The bizarre-looking fellow in the smaller photo is a Braylu Standard head. I have a project that will result in two figures, each representing one of the famous Buzzard brothers outlaws. A couple of years ago, Clinton Detweiler made the first of the three Buzzard brothers using my 2T Uncle Earl head.

I don't have the actual Standard head castings yet, but I'm using the one I do have in hand as an armature to sculpt some features ahead of time. I cover the sculpting area with generous amounts of Vaseline. Then I sculpt the feature on the face with Magic-Sculpt. I let it dry overnight, then remove it from the head. When the actual heads arrive, the noses and cheek expansions I've sculpted ahead should fit on the castings almost perfectly. (At least, that's my strategy).

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Do I look worried?

I keep re-working almost every part of this guy's face. Today I shaved off the sides of his mouth opening to fit the contour of the jaw. Then I re-placed the jaw and closed the gaps on the bottom and sides. I also worked his cheeks a bit. I added some crow's feet to his eyes. Then I smoothed out the first forehead wrinkles I made and decided to work the forehead from the top of the eyes up. The first step was to shape the area just above the eyes. I want him smiling, but with a slight worried look. After all, Otis The Moonshiner will be concerned about the "Revenuers" catchin' him.

I really need to remember to breathe while I'm sculpting.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Otis apple

Otis got an Adam's Apple today. I also worked on his jaw and upper lip. I still have a lot of corrections to do, but I'm pleased so far. I may get to work on him a bit more today, but other matters are pressing. (I have to clean the garage). 

Monday, March 18, 2013


My little three-dimensional cartoon, whom I've named "Jiggles", has been purchased by a fellow in Italy. The buyer actually has the same name as a famous Italian musician. I'm not sure it's the same person, but either way, I hope they make beautiful music together... like loony tunes.

Saturday, March 16, 2013



Another progress report from the worldwide headquarters of Kenny Croes, international dummy maker (yeah, right). My Otis sculpture now has an upper lip. When I make the Otis figure from the casting, he will probably have a snaggle tooth, but I'm going to leave it off the model so I can make figures with or without the upper tooth or teeth. They're easy to add after the fact. I've also installed the incomplete jaw. He'll still have a dumb chin and overbite, but it will get some fine tuning.

More later...

Thursday, March 14, 2013

One rough to the next rough

One more step forward for both sculpting projects. The feller on the left got more forehead. The feller on the right also got some forehead, though just a touch above the eyes. I want him to have more wrinkles, so I'm proceeding with caution. I have a reasonably clear idea where I'm taking both of these characters. But I'm finding it's best to take it one small step at a time. The beauty of working with PaperClay is I can add or subtract very easily. But I'm also running out of PaperClay, so it's time to buy some more. I may add the ears soon because it will balance my perspective on their look.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

In the rough

My two sculpting projects made a little progress today. The fellow on the left is my friend's project he started but asked me to complete. I worked on his forehead and upper lip area today. The model on the right is my new goofy-guy replacement for Otis the Moonshiner characters. Today I added ridges just below his eyes and tweaked his nose. I'm still debating how to do the eyes. Both are 2T projects.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Wit as a Brit

Without a doubt, one of my favorite characters I designed and make is Uncle Earl. I love how clueless he looks when his eyebrows are raised. His head castings sales for do-it-yourselfers at Braylu Creations have been good enough that when the initial mold wore out, they made a new one with a few improvement tweaks. This rendition of the elderly curmudgeon is bound for England where he will be known as "Uncle Len".

Sunday, March 10, 2013


I just completed my cartoony character, Jiggles. He's a silly little guy who'll be searching for a partner who's just as silly as he is. Oh, and by the way, he's wearing a zebra hat, jacket and leather britches. I think he thinks he's a rock star.

Saturday, March 09, 2013


I've been Skype-ing with friends and family for quite awhile. I Skype with Buzz at Braylu Creations often so we can discuss and demonstrate vent parts and projects. Well, there's a new video call program associated with Facebook called ooVoo. Ventriloquist John Savale contacted me about it and invited me to download the program and "ooVoo" him. Which I did. We visited for quite awhile online.  He's building a figure and I was able to share a few tips about this and that. We discovered we have other common interests beyond ventriloquism. John is a very nice fellow and it was a pleasure getting to know him.

One cool advantage over Skype is that you can have as many as 12 people in a video chat room at one time. Skype charges a membership fee to do that, but ooVoo provides that option free. So I suspect as more ventriloquists discover the ooVoo service, we may have some lively conference calls from time to time. That should be fun.

Friday, March 08, 2013

More nub

I buy some parts from Braylu Creations. Things like eye trays, synchro bars, triggers, etc. But there are a few items I make myself, like the item pictured at left. I call it a "nub". It's a ledge upon which I rest a jaw axle tube. I've posted about it before.

I usually make them one-at-a-time using hunks of leftover Magic-Sculpt. But this time I'd like to make a mold of it using Sculpey. I'm not exactly sure how to go about it. Most of the YouTube demos I've seen show very simple "press-it-in-the-blob-of-Sculpey" kinds of objects. No undercuts or four-sided models. Could be I'm running into that "laws of physics" issue again.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Busy, busy, busy

I have several projects moving forward. The photo on the left is my cartoon figure. The eyes are in. The raising eyebrows have been installed and they work great. I added some cute buck teeth. The jaw is getting some gap adjustment. It'll be ready to install tomorrow. If folks seem to like him and actually buy him, I may offer him as a regular "KneeBuddy" figure.

The project on the right is my Otis sculpt. This head will replace the "Elmore" head that I used for all of the previous Otis figures. Again I'm using PaperClay. I glued a couple of 1.25" wooden knobs inside the eye sockets as stand-ins for the eyes.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Springs into action

For any of this to make sense, you might want to read the previous post, "First One's the Hardest". As I wrote in that post, the natural laws of physics always win out. In this case, the raising eyebrow mechanics won't have a single spring between the two levers (as pictured in my blurry mind's eye). Oh, no. The levers will each have a spring attached to the side of the head. Because I'm using stationary cartoon eyes, there are no side-to-side eye mechanics to get in the way. With this configuration, the eyebrow levers and the rod-and-tube pulley have plenty of distance between them. Cords will be attached to the levers, draped over the pulley (above) and fall downward through the PVC pipe control post to a single trigger. 

Monday, March 04, 2013

In the fold

This grumpy gus is heading to a magic shop in Australia. They asked for a fatter body with arms that folded ala "Walter". So Braylu Creations assembled this custom body for me using some newly-designed arms that have an extra joint near the wrists. This makes it easier for the arms to fold and stay folded.

Sunday, March 03, 2013

First one's the hardest

I'm moving ahead with my Cheeky Boy (Mikey/Donnie) character with the cartoon eyes. Of course with the cartoon eyes in place, the gaps on the sides have to be filled. I used Free Form Air, but it was pretty messy. I've used Magic-Sculpt for the eyelids above the eyes.

The eyebrow holes are higher, so I have to make sure there's room inside the head above the eyebrow rod mechanics for the pulley system. If the eyebrow rods and pulley are too close together, the eyebrows won't raise very far. Because there will be no side-to-side eye mechanics, there's lots of room to bend the interior eyebrow rods downward. The trick will be to bend the rods so the spring between them works properly. 

Everything always works in my mind's eye, but there's that nagging problem of the natural laws of physics. I seem to run into that problem whenever I do something for the first time.

Saturday, March 02, 2013


Ventriloquist and storyteller Gary P. Green recounts the history of Black Canadian Pioneers with the help of his character "Rasmus". Gary's partner is an Afro version of Mr. Winkle. While most ventriloquists perform comedy, Gary also uses ventriloquism to deliver more serious history and diversity programs using an array of puppet personalities. You might notice he even has a PowerPoint running behind him during the show. 

Friday, March 01, 2013

Squeak tweak

What is making this squeaking noise? Is it the eye rubbing on the washer? Is the washer rubbing on the eye tray? Is part of the eyeball rubbing against the eye socket? Is there debris still in the axle hole even after all that cleaning? No. No. No. And no.

I noticed that if I placed my finger gently on top of the left eye's bolt, the squeaking stopped. Hmmmm.

As the eyes move, that bolt is vibrating! Touch the top of the bolt and the vibration stops. Finger up. Squeak. Finger down. No squeak.

So I put a tiny ball of Magic-Sculpt over the top of the bolt just above the nut to absorb the vibration.

No squeak. (Didn't need the WD-40 after all).