Sunday, June 30, 2013

What is he?

Though I design and build hard figures, I'm quite fond of soft figures. We have a fun toy store here in Old Town Bandon that sells lots of soft puppets. This one was made by Melissa & Doug Puppets. His eyes were originally very far apart. My wife Joyce took some matching green yarn and pulled his eyes close together, thus creating the bridge of his nose and a goofier look. So now my question is... what is he? Got any ideas?

Friday, June 28, 2013

18 days and counting

It won't be long now. Last year over 600 ventriloquists attended the Vent Haven ConVENTion. I bet there will be even more this year. One of the highlights are the Dealer Rooms. Here's a tour through one of them from last year's conVENTion courtesy of ventriloquist Dirk Golden.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A face only a mother could love

The new and (hopefully) improved Otis the Moonshiner now has eyebrows, eyes and a five o'clock shadow. I just plopped the wig on top of his head to see what he'll look like with hair. And yes, one eye is brown and the other is blue as per his new partner's preference. 

And since I'm his mother, I can't help but love the little goof.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Reasons for no breakthrough

1. Laziness
2. Can't figure it out
3. Fear
4. Haven't given myself permission yet
5. Past attempts ended in disaster
6. Stubbornness
7. Too much coffee
8. Not enough coffee
9. Too set in my ways
10. Procrastination

Today I successfully mounted my triggers in a PVC headstick rather than on a PVC headstick. Until now, I haven't managed to accomplish this for all of the reasons cited above. Why today's breakthrough? I think it was a confluence of several factors.

  1. I recently repaired a Jerry Layne figure that had a slotted trigger, thus actually seeing one done well.
  2. I remembered Buzz James (Braylu Creations) advising me to drill a series of small holes to make a slot. I took a chisel and lightly hammered around the edges where I drilled the holes. I pried out the innards and smoothed the edges with a Dremel.
  3. I realized the screw was the perfect length so that when I installed it, it would impale itself into the other side without punching through, thus making a very secure axle.
  4. Just the right amount of coffee. 

Monday, June 24, 2013

Hope I didn't say anything stupid

Beginning today, master ventriloquist Tom Crowl posted the first of a 7-part interview with me. I've been enjoying the previous interviews with Jay Johnson, Conrad Hartz, Ian Varella, Donald Woodford, and Tom's "Learn Ventriloquism" student Matt Fleckenstein. Each episode is only 4 or 5 minutes long... which is good since I'll be holding my breath the entire time I watch my interview. 

Thanks, Tom, for including me in such distinguished company.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Seen mean

The perpetually unhappy Mr. Winkle now has a pair of blue-gray eyes and some disapproving eyebrows to express his displeasure. Soon he'll be trading insults with a new partner and some unsuspecting audience members.

He'll get a white wig and strings to animate his grouchiness.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Makin' moonshine

Otis the Moonshiner, the new 2T version, is beginning to take shape. His painting is well underway. I'm using the painting technique I explained in the post about the full-size Mr. Winkle. I still have to do some touch up and rosey-up his cheeks. Soon the mechanics installation will begin.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Steve Hewlett

It's great when a ventriloquist as talented as Steve Hewlett breaks through on an important TV show. Enjoy his performance.


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Closer to talking

My full-size Mr. Winkle now has a moving mouth. I installed a small brass eye hook first, but the spring was too flaccid when hooked there. Anticipating just such a problem, I had drilled a small hole in a higher position just in case. That made it easier to screw in a larger eye hook after the jaw was already installed. The higher position and angle worked perfectly. I'll reinforce the large eye hook with a dab of Magic-Sculpt to make sure it stays secure.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Back to the workshop

After 10 days of almost full-time goofing off, I'm back in the workshop. My first order of business was to add the first coat of flesh tone paint to my new 2T Otis. It's fun to add a new character (or at least sculpture) to my stable of figures. You might notice that I added a snaggle tooth to Otis. He'll get a few more coats of flesh tone, then wrinkles and shadows. 

Nice to be back.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Happy Father's Day

Saturday, June 15, 2013


My friend ventriloquist Tim Lowe shared a couple of photos of himself with his new associate "Uncle Len". On the left, they're at Southsea Castle in England. The photo on the right is a promotional portrait for their shows. In it, Uncle Len is wearing a spiffy new jacket to keep him warm during those chilly days in the English countryside. Tim reports that Uncle Len has been charming his audiences wherever he goes and that one lady even gave him a kiss.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Zoomo's debut

Zoomo made his debut at Stow Presbyterian Church to impress the congregation with his knowledge of earth culture and talk about Vacation Bible School.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

On the road

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

On the road

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

On the road

Monday, June 10, 2013

On the road

Sunday, June 09, 2013

On the road

Saturday, June 08, 2013

On the road

Friday, June 07, 2013

On the road

Thursday, June 06, 2013

On the road

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

The remedy

If you read the comments section of my last post, you'll see a suggestion from Ron that I forgo the malfunctioning Google Blogger Link List and just place a link to a page hosted on my Kenny Croes Dummy Store website that contains the "Ventriloquist Website" links. Well, I messed around with it today and decided to do just that. So if you scroll down to the "Ventriloquist Websites" section, you'll see a single link that reads "Click Here". And when you do, you'll be taken to the new page. Don't worry. There's a "Back to Blog" link on that new page. The new page also has the aforementioned ventriloquist websites I wanted to add but couldn't. Take that, Google Blogger!

Tuesday, June 04, 2013


Once again the List Links Widget on my blog is not functioning. To be more precise, I can't add more links to the "Ventriloquist Websites" list. It's not just me... it's a bug that crops up from time to time on all Google-hosted blogs. To make things even worse, it's an intermittent problem since that's the only list on my blog to which I cannot add. It's happened before and Google eventually fixed it. Google's default advice is to delete the list and start a new one. But I currently have 253 ventriloquist websites listed and each one would have to be added manually. Not fun.

The reason I'm telling you this is I've tried unsuccessfully to add Steve Bernard, Kevin Hutton, Daniel Jay and Kieran Powell to the "Ventriloquist Websites" section. Gentlemen, as soon as the bug is fixed, I'll happily add your names and website links to my list. In the meantime I'll just be bugged that I can't do it now.

Monday, June 03, 2013

The naked eye

Occasionally I get requests for unusual vent figure features. In the case of my first Otis The Moonshiner made from the new 2T design, his new partner wants one blue eye and one brown eye. The two plastic irises I have are blue-gray and amber. To make them deep blue and dark brown, I paint the inside of the eyeball. The translucent irises pick up the darker background colors and look very realistic. 

Saturday, June 01, 2013

Coloring in the lines

These photos show the stages of my wrinkle-painting technique. The top-left photo shows how I fill in every wrinkle line with dark raw umber paint. I try to paint within the lines, but invariably I paint the lines too thick. After the first stage dries, I thin the lines by painting around them with flesh-tone (lower-left photo). Then I use a stipple brush with a mocha-tint to lighten the dark lines and darken the surrounding areas. This technique creates nice shadows. Finally, I paint thin areas between the lines with more flesh color to "raise" the areas between the lines and "deepen" the lined areas. When it's finished, it should look like stage make-up.