Thursday, April 02, 2020

Dressed

I think this little cheeky boy is even cuter with his costume. I'm getting to know him. He's a 4-1/2-year-old character. Though I plan to sell him, I'm enjoying working on his voice and manipulation. He'll be tough to let go. However, I have another casting of his head, so I plan to build another as soon as some tiny drill bits arrive.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Pete Michaels

I did not know Pete Michaels personally. I likely met him at a Vent Haven convention briefly, but he was one of the "A" lister ventriloquists and I was quite awe-struck and intimidated. Not that he did anything to deserve my shyness. He was, by ALL accounts, open and friendly to all.

Over and above his abundance of vent talent, he was also a gifted musician and devoted family man. I'm sure my sadness at his passing will pale to the depth of loss his family and friends are feeling at this moment.

My recent contact with Pete via email concerned his instructional ventriloquism DVD collection titled "The Whole Ventchilada". He listed it on my DummyStore.net site. I was flattered and appreciative of his support.

The vent community will miss Pete and his funny characters. He leaves behind a legacy of joy and laughter. Hard to do better than that.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Tommy

He looks like a "Tommy" to me. So that's what I'll call him. He's the first of this character to make it to full-on dummy. His mouth moves, his eyes are self-centering side-to-side, and his eyebrows raise. He'll probably measure about 34" tall.

I will likely sell him, though I don't know if folks are buying figures right now due to social distancing. Of course, imaginary friends could come in handy at a time like this, so he might be in demand after all.

Let me know if you're interested.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Don't say "aawww"

The jaw spring is connected. The eyes are glued in. The eyehooks on either side of the head interior are installed. Now I just have to sit back and wait for everything to dry.  It takes some discipline. I just want to pick up the cheeky boy figure and play with him.

Oh... and I need to buy him clothes.  Did I mention that?

As for the photo on the right, it's a picture of the very first casting of the sculpture I completed recently for Braylu Creations. I would expect a visit from this ALIEN in the future... the near future.

Monday, March 23, 2020

He'll be cracking wise soon




The hard work on the jaw paid off. Now it's set in the head and swings free. The eye tray is installed temporarily for the purpose of synching the eyes. Oh, and the raising eyebrows are in and painted.

Tomorrow I will add the spring to close the jaw and install the open/close mechanism for the mouth. I'll secure eyehooks on both sides of the head for the side-to-side mechanics. Then it's time to break out the nylon cord and triggers. He could be ready for conversation by the end of the week.

Note to self: Order some clothes for the little man.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

If the jaw fits

It's been a real thrash, but the jaw fits and the gaps are much better I'll put one more coat of red on the lips, then brush glossy varnish over the tongue, teeth, and lip. 

I just received another cast of the new cheeky boy character. I learned a lot from building the first. I'll need to buy a 1/32" drill bit to outline the jaw with tiny holes. The less material I lose during chin removal, the easier it will be to build a mold-worthy jaw.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Detailing

This new cheeky boy is getting closer and closer to completion. I'm in the detail painting stage. I outlined his eyes, added eyelashes, rosey-ed his cheeks, gave him freckles and added color to the jaw and lips. I wish the slots had turned out better. I may still come up with a few tricks, but I'm glad he's exhibiting lots of personality.

The next big thing may be his raising eyebrows.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

A familiar face


Like many of us, my first figure was a Mike Brose/Fred Project dummy. Actually, now that I think about it, he was my second figure. My first was a very simple Danny O'Day upgrade from Clinton Detweiller. While I was excited to get him, I realized very quickly that a full-size figure would be better for me. When I discovered the availability of the Fred Project head and parts, I decided to build one myself even though I was not a skilled craftworker back then.

The mistake I made (among several actually) was I chose to set up the controls like a Jerry Mahoney doll with moving eyes. I'd had one when I was a kid. The controls were two plastic rings on strings. One string opened the mouth and the other moved the eyes. The eyes were defaulted looking right via a rubber band. When I pulled the string, the eyes moved to the center or to the far left. I set up my Fred the same way. Not good.

Nevertheless, the Fred Project pulled me into building figures. But my Fred sat on the shelf all these years because my set up really didn't work that well. So today I'm changing the mechanics to a more conventional style. He'll have a lever on the headstick for the mouth. The eyes will move side-to-side, non-self-centering with rocker on the headstick.

 I'm going to replace the Brose body with a hollow wood Braylu body. I'm more used to them. I'll have a molded Brose body to sell soon.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Don't forget about me


I haven't blogged about this fella in a while. This corpulent cuss has been waiting for his final sanding. I think this is the best my skills and patience can provide. The jaw design with an underbite really sets his personality as grouchy, stubborn, and/or confused. The jaw will be fit and finalized after I'm sent the first casting.

Friday, March 13, 2020

These eyes




When the eyes go in, you really begin to see the personality of a new figure. I think the "cute factor" may rate high on the scale for this little fella.


I also made some progress on the jaw. It will open and close freely. The slots should be okay. Today I added a platform in the jaw for the tongue and teeth.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Trouble

I'm having difficulty building and fitting the jaw in my new cheeky boy. I'm not surprised nor am I a stranger to this kind of trouble. I always seem to figure it out, though not always in the traditional way.

I've lined and narrowed the edges of the jaw opening with Magic Sculpt. I tried using paper clay the first time, but that didn't work as well as I'd hoped. But I did use paper clay at the bottom of the opening and that seems to work okay.

The issue always develops after I remove the chin from a casting. I lose material from both the chin area and the sidewalls, and never evenly. I won't be using this jaw for an eventual mold. That was the original plan, but this one won't work. The good news is this go-around has taught me a few things for the next one... I hope.

Saturday, March 07, 2020

You're a dummy


Friday, March 06, 2020

He ain't from around here

No photo description available.
This was posted on the Braylu Creations Facebook site today:

"Many of you may have known that Kenny Croes sculpted an Alien character for me a couple months ago. Here is a photo of the model that has been prepped for the mold making process. Once the mold is made I will cast some heads and begin the building process."

Tuesday, March 03, 2020

Right-side up





The world's newest cheeky boy (if I finish sometime soon and live up to this boast) is now mounted on a headstick. The two small photos above show the exterior where pole-meets-head and the interior with my four dowels/Magic Sculpt attachments. Notice I've drilled holes in the bottom for strings. I've also drilled holes in his forehead for the raising eyebrows. The 1-1/2" brass tubes are mounted inside and protruding slightly on his forehead. I always take a dab of Magic Sculpt to disguise the protruding tubes.

They tell me details matter.

Monday, March 02, 2020

Upside down


Securing a headstick in my figures has always been a source of anxiety. As a result, I tend to overdue the Magic Sculpt.

This time a got a tip from Buzz at Braylu on how to install a headstick. He suggested drilling four 1/4" holes in the top of the PVC opposite of each other. Measure the inside of the figure's neck with calipers. Then cut 1/4" dowels to the lengths and plug them into the holes. I also added a small eyehook to attach a jaw spring down the line.

I wrapped Magic Sculpt around the dowels and inserted the PVC pipe from inside the head. I lowered it until the dowels lodged in the neck, After that, I used a probe to mash the Magic Sculpt against the neck walls.

Final step was to loop some Magic Sculpt around the exterior of the PVC. Now the cheeky boy is standing on his head until tomorrow.

The last thing to show-and-tell today is the first step to making a cheeky jaw. I cut away the chin from the head casting. Buzz (Braylu) sent along a B-stock jaw from an earlier character to use as an armature. I reduced the size of that armature and made the first side of the jaw with paper clay. I tried attaching styrene plastic sides, but I couldn't get any of the glues to attach. Finally, I decided to go with paper clay, especially given the fact I'll probably cover the chin with paper clay, too.

Friday, February 28, 2020

First get a nice casting... and then you WRECK it















Yesterday this was a nice clean casting of my original sculpture (above left). Now after taking an electric saw, hand saw, power drill, and various Dremel bits to it, it's an official wreck (above right).

No panic here because after cutting off the back of the head, poking out the eye sockets, cutting out the jaw cavity, roughing up the interior, and smoothing the edges all around, I'm usually left with some patching. Sometimes the hand slips or the plastic gives way unexpectedly. Nothing a little paper clay or Magic-Sculpt can't fix.

The first step is always a little nasty.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Look what I got!


























As I've mentioned before, I sculpted a new 2T cheeky boy just before I took a five-year hiatus from ventriloquism. It sat on my workbench the entire time. Now that I'm building again, I had a mold and castings made. And today I received the very first casting.

This little guy will be the first of its kind. He'll measure in at about 32"-tall. The 28mm doll eyes will fit perfectly in this fella's sockets. Throw in some rosy cheeks, a sprinkling of freckles, a head of hair, and he'll be ready to annoy someone.

As always, body by Braylu.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Debut

I'm pleased to introduce "Mr. Winkle", my newest full-size figure fresh out of the shop. I enjoy making the figures, but I also like photographing them. And yes, talking to them. As you will see in the video, Mr. Winkle talks back.

He is being offered for sale on DummyStore.net. Someone who likes arguing might like to argue with him. Mr. Winkle is perfect for that.

Drop me an email if you're interested.

Friday, February 21, 2020

See what you made me do



























I'm getting tired of this subject, but this sculpture is turning out to be a marathon. After today's powwow, it was decided that I need to remove the fat roll under his ears and to make the lower part of the fat-roll appear to be hanging down. I agreed. So, I took out my handy-dandy Dremel tool and started hacking away. I had to remove a fair amount of material; both under the ears and behind the ears. It's hard to tell in the whole-head photo on the left, but he does look better, hack marks aside. Now I need to get out my sponge sandpaper and start the smoothing process around those areas. I might have to patch a spot or two as well.

I also removed the three-dimpled chin material and returned to the dumb- chin look. He'll retain more of that pitiful cartoony look.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Before or after fat

After Fat
Before Fat
















Just when I thought I was ready to go.

I've gotten feedback that my sculpture looked much better before I added the roll of fat on his cheeks and under his chin. The photo on the left is "before". The photo on the right is "after". My wife and I have been eyeing the head trying to figure out why it doesn't look quite right. I can actually envision the character painted up with the roll of fat, but I might be miscalculating.

So I'm contemplating sanding off the roll. I might return to the original dumb chin, too.

DARN!

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Awwww-struck

There are only a few steps left before I'm ready to have a mold and castings made of my overweight oddball. I've accomplished the first step. I covered the jaw opening with a cover. That cover will be removed from the plastic castings by cutting or drilling along the dotted line. With a little sanding or filing, the jaw piece should slip right in.

The last thing I need to deal with is the transition. Currently, the neck comes down to a flat bottom similar to a McElroy figure. I'll add a rounded Braylu "ball n socket"-style transition to this sculpture.

I'm already thinking about my next character sculpture. The next one will be a skinny guy.


Monday, February 17, 2020

The last to know


From my "last to know" file comes a new discovery thanks to Buzz at Braylu Creations. I have been sanding my paper clay sculptures with regular sandpaper. It's usually hard on my hands, but I have persevered. Buzz and I Skype from time to time to show-and-tell recent projects, ideas, and innovations. If you follow this blog, you know I've been preparing my fat guy sculpture for eventual mold making. It needs to be as smooth as I can possibly make it. During our most recent Skype, he showed me sponge sandpaper. It's available in a variety of grits. The HUGE advantages are they are easy on the hands and they conform to the shape of what you're sanding. I immediately visited my local hardware store and bought some. I LOVE IT! I was able to quickly and easily do the fine sanding on my fat guy sculpture. I'm always the last person in the universe to learn about these common tools.

Finally, the fat guy jaw is completed.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Shuttin' him up?
















Why is there wadded-up paper towel in his mouth? To quiet his complaining? To silence his haranguing? To muffle his whining? To shush his grumbling?

No.

In preparation for the mold, I'm going to build a paper clay cover for the mouth. The paper towel is used to fill up space so I won't need to fill the entire cavity with paper clay. I'll use a sharp poking tool to indicate cut-lines around the perimeter of the cover. That's so I (and other vent figure builders) will know where to cut away the cover on the castings of the head. When the cover is... well... uncovered, a casting of the jaw you see pictured here will fit inside the opening with (hopefully) minimal gap adjustment.

Speaking of the jaw, it's almost done. I want to even out the spaces between the teeth, fill a couple of sanded areas, then do a final sanding.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Showin' off

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Step by step


Here's a collection of photos as I sculpted this character. Starting at the top-left (finished) to the bottom-right (a stack of foam I used as the armature), I progressed slowly to complete this new figure's model. I actually have one more task. I'll add teeth and tongue to the jaw. Then he'll be sent to Braylu Creations to have a mold and castings made.