Thursday, August 29, 2013

Something in the way she moves

Here's the video of AUNTIE PEARL. (I think she may have been drinking just before this video was recorded.)

Wednesday, August 28, 2013


I've completed my first 42" Auntie Pearl. She has side-to-side self-centering eyes, crossing eyes and raising eyebrows. She may look like everyone's favorite granny, but she's a cougar on the prowl for a younger anyone under 75 years old.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013


I occasionally get distracted by my guitar. It's not that I want a break from vent building...oh...and cooking. But the instrument is close by and calls to me now and then, on and off, quiet and loud. That's been happening more often lately. But I am close to finishing my Full-Size (42") Auntie Pearl. She needs a bit more work on her hands and then she's ready.

To be followed by a 34" Auntie Pearl. She's making progress. And then there's a 34" Otis The Moonshiner in the pipeline.   

I'll have my first Full-Size Otis casting in a few weeks. I'm really looking forward to building that fella.

Gotta go pluck my guitar. 

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Vita, amore, risate, burattini

Castello di Sorrivoli

Live, love, laughter, puppets.

In late August, there is an annual Puppet Festival in Sorrivoli, Italy at an ancient castle. I know this not because I'm a world traveler living large in a quaint Italian villa. It's because Italian orchestra conductor and puppet collector Giovanni Bartoli displays his renowned puppet collection at the festival...and among this year's new additions is a figure I built for him last year. He sent me photos today and I thought I'd share them with you. Apparently "Jiggles" (photos at far left and with Maestro Bartoli above left) was much appreciated at the puppet celebration.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Feet don't fail me now

This pair of feet actually measures only 2" high. My friend Buzz sent them to me as an example of cute feet because I'm going to sculpt some feet large enough for my 2T and full-size figures. I plan to add a touch more real anatomical features, but I'd like them to retain a cartooney look. Progress reports are likely to follow.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Gotta Lovik

The 1995 Lovik figure that I repaired is ready to be sent home. I repaired his cracks, rosyed-up his cheeks, sewed his wig back on (I had to cut it down the center to access the head's interior), and touched up a few paint nicks with the matching flesh color. I think he'll last several more years before he'll need his next tune-up.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

A Wong made right


Mr. Wong was in the Wong place at the Wong time and was vandalized by a teen hoodlum. His eyes were poked out and beard ripped off. He's been restored to his original condition and will be headed back home very soon.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Match game

After repair with flesh tone coat
The crack in the left cheek on this Lovik figure has been repaired. I was able to get a pretty close match to his flesh tone paint. Next I'll redden the cheeks and nose. Even though there was no repair work on the nose and other cheek, I repainted them with new flesh tone so when I rosey up the cheeks and nose, they'll all match.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Day off

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Day off

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Otis on notice

"Dear Kenny, 
It appears that I am having a problem with Otis. He is more interested in partying and running around than performing. So here's the deal... if I can't straighten him out within the next few years, I will need you to convert him to Irving Odermeyer the 3rd, virgin stamp collector and all around nerd. Anyway I will keep working with him for the moment, but he is on notice. It should be illegal to have this much fun. 

Thank you for my newest partner. - Wayne"

 I tried to warn ya about Otis.- Kenny

[Editor's Note: No dummies were injured during the snapping of this photo]

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Happy campers

Ventriloquist Del Burkholder performs with several characters, among them the outlaw Buzzard Brothers. I built the two figures above, Joe and Ike. Clinton Detweiler made Abe Buzzard who sits between his two brothers in the photo at left. Del commissioned a seamstress to design and sew the costumes they're wearing. These boys perform as part of Del Burkholder Ministries, an evangelical outreach to prisons. Says Del, "I truly believe there is a strong healing to the heart in the medicine of laughter". Del and the bandit Buzzard Brothers bring lots of levity to their audiences.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Hit the road, Jack

The "Jackie" figure I made from his very first casting sat in my workshop for over a year. After staring at him for such a long time (and him staring back) I decided to completely re-work him. I re-painted him, built brand new mechanics and gave him a really nice wig. He also got a new body and suit of clothes. Now he's ready to meet a new show-biz partner. If you'd like to make him part of your act, check out his Ebay auction.

Monday, August 12, 2013

The fix is in

I'm repairing a Lovik figure from the mid-90's. I used Tacky Glue and PaperClay to repair the large cracks in the cheek. The cracks didn't go all the way through to the inside of the head. The plastic itself appears to have "de-layered". (I'm a little concerned because I can see other very small cracks starting here and there.)

I had to seal the crack on the neck from the outside only because the interior is inaccessible. The trap door opening is small and the head is jammed full of mechanics. So I used two layers of Magic-Sculpt, the second layer applied after the first one dried, to seal the separation on the neck. It'll leave a bump even after sanding, but at least the repair is solid. Because of the separation's location, it won't be that noticeable after it's painted. Same deal with the axle protrusion under the ear.

I may have to paint the entire head depending on the success (or lack thereof) of the paint match.

Friday, August 09, 2013

It's okay to talk to yourself...

...just ask a dummy. That's the inscription on the new Braylu Creations T-shirt. It's only $12.99 plus shipping on the Braylu website. Many of the ventriloquists who attended the Vent Haven ConVENTion met Buzz James, the owner of Braylu Creations, for the first time. It was Buzz's first ConVENTion and I'm sure it won't be his last. It was great that so many of my ventriloquist friends were able to finally put a face to the name and the company. He talked shop with many of us and it was gratifying that so many already knew about his company. After all, several of the most prominent figure makers purchase parts from the Braylu Creations website.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Everything it's cracked up to be

I have always admired Lovik figures. This one's from the mid-90's. They are made from vacuum-form pieces very cleverly designed and assembled. This fella, however, has taken a few lumps and bumps over the years and has been sent to me for repair.

He has a few cracks that need to be sealed. I'm thinking I'll use Magic-Sculpt from both the inside and outside. One of his jaw axle ends is protruding from under his right ear, so it needs to be covered. I'd prefer not to re-paint him completely because of the facial hair. It will depend on how noticeable the paint mismatch will be. It probably won't matter so much on the neck areas, but the reddish cheeks may need to be repainted.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Aunt rant

There's really nothing new to talk about with this head, but here's a progress report anyway. My full-size Auntie Pearl has been painted and the eyebrow tubes have been installed with the new balsa wood casings. Next comes the installation of the eyebrow rods,which will tell the tale as to the security of the eyebrow tubes. There's a fair amount of torque involved with bending the rods up against the forehead. We'll see if they hold. I can always use Zap super glue to reattach them to the Magic-Sculpt if they come loose, so there's a fall-back remedy.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Lighten up

I'm always trying out new things. This time I've attempted to reduce the amount of Magic-Sculpt I use to mount the eyebrow tubes inside the head. I had some small square very-lightweight balsa wood blocks on hand. I drilled a hole down the middle and secured the tube inside the wood with glue. I attached the wood block and tube to the head's interior using as little Magic-Sculpt as possible. The big question was whether or not it would be a solid enough attachment to accept some torque. The Magic-Sculpt dried overnight and the attachment seems pretty solid this morning. 

Moral of the story:  The little balsa wood block is lighter than the amount of Magic-Sculpt I would have needed to surround and secure the eyebrow tube to the inside of the head.

Monday, August 05, 2013


Before damage
It's hard to fathom why someone would intentionally vandalize a neighbor's property, but that's what happened to Mr. Wong. My friend Wally sent the photo on the right to show the figure with poked out eyes and a partially ripped-off goatee. Apparently a neighborhood teen thought it necessary to damage the figure for some inexplicable reason. Mr. Wong is being sent back to me for repairs. I hope there's not a lot more scrambled inside his noggin.

Saturday, August 03, 2013

Here's lookin' up yer nose

Inspired by the look of Edgar Bergen's Effie Klinker, I decided to make full-size Auntie Pearl's smile a bit bigger. So I ground away more of the left side of the upper mouth opening. It will give her more of a prudish smile. I've also modified the upper lip of the jaw to fit the new smile's contour.

When I was at the Vent Haven Museum, I shot a lot of close-ups of interesting figure faces for inspiration and reference. Effie Klinker has always been a favorite.

Friday, August 02, 2013

Open and shut case's as good as I can do. I've sanded the holy cr@p out of him. My full-size Otis the Moonshiner head is done. I still have to remove the jaw and seal the mouth opening, then seal the trap door in the back of the head. He'll be sent to Buzz James at Braylu Creations for mold making and castings. When I use the casting for my first full-size (40"-42" tall) Otis figure, he'll get a snaggle tooth. But by leaving that off of the model, his castings can be used for a larger variety of characters. 

Thursday, August 01, 2013


This time I'm building two Auntie Pearl's, one full-size, one 2T (though I added a mole to the full-size gal). Rather than apply a single coat of primer, I'm trying out 2 coats of primer before I paint the first coat of flesh tone.Thought I'd see if there's a difference in the look.