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.

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.