Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Tommy on the move

Tuesday, June 02, 2020

Tommy, too

Amazing how a wig, painted eyebrows, and freckles add to the personality of a character. My "Tommy" figure, the second I've produced, is ready to be granted a body and costume. I'm going to put him in his Sunday best. He'll look like the perfect child. Of course, his new partner, whoever that might be, will likely make him somewhat mischievous in nature.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Another Tommy

My first Tommy figure went over pretty well. He's the cutest figure I've ever made. Well, here's the second Tommy. He's nearing completion. All of his mechanics are in. The jaw took an inordinate amount of time to get right. I was pleased that this jaw, the first cast jaw, worked well. But the jaw cavity continues to be an issue. I have remedies, but it's certainly not "plug n play".

Thursday, May 28, 2020


I've been derelict in posting to my blog. But I've been busy working on figures. I finished the fella you see pictured. Originally he was going to be a nerd, but my friend Buzz saw him before his scheduled haircut and thought he looked like a surfer. So I decided to go with that. I ordered a Hawaiian shirt, khakis, and boat shoes. SurferDude!

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Using what I've learned

I'm working on the jaw for the fat guy character. I made a lot of progress. Some sanding and touchup and he'll be done. The photo on the right is the latest incarnation of my Nerd figure-build. His eye, jaw, and eyebrow mechanics are in. I permanently secured the eye tray today. Last head install is the pulley for the jaw.

Saturday, May 09, 2020

Mike Brose


I build vent figures because Mike Brose wrote a great book. He offered advice and encouragement whenever I asked, and provided vent-building parts of unsurpassed quality. I would guess most if not all vent figure builders leaned on Mike's vast knowledge and kindness at some point. 
He will be missed by the ventriloquist community.

Thursday, May 07, 2020

Chewin' the fat

My fat man sculpture I did for Braylu Creations has morphed into its first casting. I've started the process to build the first figure. I will only be able to progress so far because a mold and casting of the jaw must be done first. The initial sculpture of the jaw is laying to the right of the head. I will mount that in the head so that it fits nicely and swings free. I'll add some touches here and there, then it goes back to Braylu Creations for the mold and casting.

Wednesday, May 06, 2020

Lockdown project

Between baking cookies, following the news, daydreaming, and binge-watching "Game of Thrones", I've been working on this slightly cross-eyed ventriloquist dummy. He's got a ways to go yet, but he's beginning to show a little personality. He'll eventually be a nerd with glasses.

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Look into my eyes

Here's a look at the completed eyes. These are 1.5" wood knobs painted white. The irises were printed on a computer printer, cut out, then glued onto the white knob. The last step was to brush on two coats of glossy varnish. I think they look pretty good all things considered.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Ring around the headstick

I have used different methods of securing a headstick in the neck of a casting. Braylu Creations came up with a method new to me using a ring that goes around a PVC pipe. The ring slips loosely over the pipe. After roughing up the contact surfaces of the ring, I attached it permanently to the top of the pipe with Magic-Sculpt epoxy. I let it dry overnight. Then I put a layer of epoxy on the bottom-side of the ring and slipped the headstick down the neck until the ring made contact with the bottom of the beck.  After that, I pulled hard on the headstick so the ring was forced downward inside the neck. The epoxy squished around the ring. I checked the headstick to make sure it was straight, made an adjustment or two, then tugged on it again. I let the epoxy dry overnight and now the headstick is quite secure. 

You may notice I installed an eyehook at the top of the PVC pipe before installing it. The eyehook will be used to attach the jaw spring.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Feathered dot

I glued the computer-printed irises onto the 1.5" wood knob eyes. The knobs got 3 coats of white acrylic paint.

The most important element to put into the iris image is a tiny feathered white dot somewhere in the center area of the iris. The white dot infers reflection. Without it, the eyes look lifeless.

The final step is a coat or two of glossy varnish to give the eyes a wet look.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Haven't seen this guy in a while

My return to figure making has been a slow steady process. I started by building a few conversions I had laying about. Then I stepped up to building a 4T Uncle Winkle. Followed that up with my new character "Tommy"

Here's a little history. Braylu Creations makes my molds and castings. They sell some of my character castings to the general public. I have a few characters Braylu casts that are exclusive to me. For example, the 4T Uncle Winkle casting is for sale to any builder. My new 2T "Tommy" is exclusive to me as is the head pictured here. This head casting is called "Otis". He makes two characters. One is a Hillbilly. The other is a Nerd. I'm going with the Nerd character this time around.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Four eyes

I've read many figure makers lamenting the scarcity of 1.5" eyes for full-size figures. It was universally accepted that Mike Brose made the best eyes in the business but since his hiatus, we've had to innovate.

The method I choose comes from Mike Brose as well. In his book "Figure Making Can Be Fun" he suggests printing irises on a computer printer and gluing them onto the painted wood knob. Before I found a good source for nice 2T eyes, I made lots of pairs of wood ball eyes for conversion snd 2T characters. Now I'm back to the same method.

The two pairs I'm working on are for a pair of 4T figures I'll be building soon. Pictured here, they've been drilled out and had a coat of primer applied. Next comes several coats of white acrylic paint, the iris attachment, then a coat of glossy varnish to finish the job.

A guy's gotta do what a guy's gotta do.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Steve Hurst

One of the best of us gone too soon. 

Monday, April 13, 2020

Something to chew on

My progress on my second "Tommy" character moves at a snail's pace. I could attribute it to having so many other pressing projects and engagements that it's been hard to make time for it. But the truth is, I'm probably watching too much TV.

Sometimes I just sit and stare at the jaw and think. One conclusion I reached is I am going to create the best jaw I can and not worry if it fits in the current casting's jaw cavity. It's a lot easier to adapt the cavity to accept the jaw than the other way around.

As the photo shows, I've added a row of teeth. They're rough in their current wet-clay state. After the clay hardens a bit, I'll etch a line between the teeth and lip. When the teeth dry completely hard, I'll sand them to remove the burrs in the back of the teeth and to make them smoother.

Hmm. Wonder what's on HBO?

Wednesday, April 08, 2020

Tommy on TV

Tuesday, April 07, 2020

Wood if I couldn't

I like to share my failures as well as my successes. Well... not ALL of my failures. Otherwise, this blog would not be much fun. So, please don't do what I did in my last post. It didn't work.

The block was too large, the epoxy didn't stick to the chin interior because it wasn't roughed-up enough. So, it wasn't too difficult to tear the thing apart.

This time I cut the block to half its size. I roughed-up the chin interior much more. I used more Magic-Sculpt and wrapped it over and under the woodblock.

After the epoxy hardens and I'm convinced everything will hold together, I'll use paper clay to sculpt the full jaw piece.

Monday, April 06, 2020

Wood if I could

I'm reminded of that scene in "Apollo 13" when the engineers had to solve the carbon dioxide build-up in the ship. They had to literally put a square block in a round hole with only what they had on hand. My challenge is far less critical to survival, but I still had to think about it.

The rounded back of the chin needs to be attached to the flat surface of the woodblock using what I have on hand. (Otherwise, hello 

I settled on using Magic Sculpt epoxy to create a flat surface on the back of the chin. First I roughed-up the backside of the chin so the Magic-Sculpt would adhere. Then I put chunks of the epoxy on both sides of the chin interior and pressed it against the flat woodblock to create a flat surface on the epoxy. After the Magic-Sculpt dries, I'll attach the chin to the woodblock with crazy glue.

Sunday, April 05, 2020

History repeats

The little fellow in the last post started like the one in this post. I'm building a second "Tommy". I received the casting from Braylu Creations and now I'm prepping the head.

This time I used a 1/32" drill bit to remove the jaw. I drilled tiny little holes all around the jaw carefully following the slot lines I'd drawn on the original sculpture. It worked better than the last jaw removal when I used a 1/16" drill bit. I lost more material using the larger bit. I lost less material this time though there will be patching with this one, too.

This munchkin will look similar to the first one, but he'll have blue eyes and straight brown hair.

Thursday, April 02, 2020


I think this little cheeky boy is even cuter with his costume. I'm getting to know him. He'll pretend to be 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 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


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


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


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.