Sunday, December 30, 2007

I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas! We celebrated the birth of our Savior here at home. It turns out my wife didn't sprain her knee, she broke her leg! The hospital sent her home saying she was alright and told her to visit an orthopedic doctor.

He gave her a shot of cortisone and told her she'd feel better in a week. Three days later her leg was swollen and she was in pain. Of course the doctor was on vacation so Darlene suffered until after the holiday. He then took an MRI and found she had split the large bone in her calve. I don't know why doctors are paid so much when they constantly misdiagnose problems.

She is now in a leg cast and has to have someone with her to help her up and down. My granddaughter is here in the early evening until she goes to bed and I am with her all day until I go to work. Needless to say, figure making is on the back burner.

I did complete Bob's lower jaw. I fit it by building out the sides and grinding it on a belt sander until it fit.

I then drill a hole through the jaw and mount a hollow brass tube through it. I slide a brass rod into the tube and cut it to the width of it's placement inside the head.

When the jaw is finished, put it in the head where it goes and build up some epoxy sculpt under the brass rod leaving the indentation of the rod in the putty. Take the mouth out and wait for it to dry.

While it dries, you can sculpt out the inside of the mouth. Teeth and tongue for a realistic look.

I drilled holes in the head for his eyebrows which I will install next week along with his eyes. I

I put a coat of paint on the head to find any touching up needed. So instead of Bob Albino, he is starting to look like Bob Albano.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Building Bob V

After sanding Bob's face, I cut out the eyeholes and the mouth slot. It is very important to make sure your lines are straight for the mouth and the distance between the top and the bottom is the same width. Otherwise the mouth won't fit well.

I then glue the bottom part of the head back on to the face plate, leaving the back of the head off to add the mechanics later on. I use string or rubber bands to hold the head together while it is drying. I use Gorilla glue to attach the pieces.
together. Then I build up the cup around the mouth piece I removed. Some people use wood for the sides of the mouth because it is flush and will be more forgiving with the fit. I just make it out of magic sculpt and then use a belt sander to make the sides flush. I always build out wide so I can take off to make a good fit.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Building Bob IV

I woke up at 1:00 this morning and couldn't get back to sleep. I decided to work on Bob's facial features. Bob e-mailed me a picture (I asked for a side view also but he didn't have any on hand so I punted!) I took the

I sat down in front of my computer with a glob of epoxy sculpt and started working. Here is the result of the rough out.
I will fill in where needed and smooth out the features once it dries. Then I will cut out the eye holes and the mouth.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Building Bob III

It's been almost two weeks since my last post. My wife and I were getting ready to take my father out for his 79th birthday and she caught her foot under the rug and fell hard. She damaged the meniscus in her knee and possibly tore a ligament. I have been spending all my time with her. She is unable to walk.

I did start Bob's head this weekend. What I do is take a hat mannequin and cover it with tin foil.

I have about five different versions of them for different styles. Bob has medium smooth features. He has no outstanding features like a large nose or big chin. Good for him, deefeecult for me (o;

When making a caricature, it is easier when there are outstanding features. When there aren't, the head has to really resemble the photo or the whole idea is lost.

After I cover it in tin foil, I use one of two mediums, either magic sculpt or paper clay. In this instant I am using magic sculpt. ( I ran out of paper clay)

Paper clay is much easier to work with and requires little if any sanding when finished. Magic sculpt is a bear to sand and takes quite awhile just to get ridges smooth.

After i cover the head, i let is sit for about thirty minutes and then I cut the head in half right on the hat mannequin and run the blade across the back of the head also. I can then remove it from it's armature to do the finished work when it dries. That's where I am so far.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Building Bob II

I attach a quilted cover to the body by wrapping it around, trimming at the top and the bottom. I leave enough on the bottom to fold under.

I then roll two tubes of filler and attach them around the neck hole. I staple them into a circle and then glue underneath them to hold in place. I use Fabri-Tac. It is the best glue on the market in my opinion and can be bought in just about any hobby or fabric store.

I then cover the top with fleece. I pull it tight around the top and staple it in place in the front and glue it to the back of the top.. I then cut a small hole in the top and pull at it to open it to about an 1 3/4 inches. Theres his body cavity.

Now, I cut two pieces of cloth for arms and two for legs. I made a pattern for those and cut them down as needed. I didn't have a pattern at first, but my wife was frustrated with me constantly asking her "do these look good?"

For the legs, I fold the cloth in half and trace the pattern. I cut it out at the opened end and stitch it closed, leaving an opening at the top of the legs to stuff it.

I do the same thing for the arms (with a pattern) and leave both ends open.

I then turn them inside out and stuff them. I attach the hands on one side by folding an inside colloar on the arm sleeve and sliding the hand into it. I run a bead of glue around the wrist with Fabri-Tac and pull the sleeve over the bead. I then sew a joint in the legs and the arms so the figure will have the ability to move his arm with an arm rod and so his legs hang when he sits.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Building Bob Albano

The holidays have kept me in overtime. We've visited, been visited,and have been working busily in the shop to keep up with holiday demands. I was supposed to start last week showing how i make a tribute figure. Best laid plans of mice and men....

Anyway! I will start this week.

The first thing I will show you is how i make the body cavity. Bob is of medium builld with a slim waste so we have to tapere the body. I have cut out a bottom and a top that will fit the head I am making. You ask, what is the size? I don't make a standard size. I choose the head shape I will use (later in detail) and from that, I plan my body.

After cutting out the pieces, I use a 3" hole saw to cut out the neck hole. I then drill two 1/2 inch holes in the top and the bottom of the pieces. These holes will hold 1/2 inch dowels which will give the body contour. Then I cut the dowels to the height of 13 inches. That will be the height of the body.

I cut two pieces of 1/2 by 2" #2 grade furring strips 12 inches long for the sides and nail them on either side of the top and then connect it to the bottom by doing the same. I run a bead of glue in the holes where the dowels will go and do the same for the top and bottom of the furring strips to give it added strength. and the result is the body cavity.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Giving tributes to the tributors

Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks for all we have. Along with family and friends and everything God has given me, I want to thank a couple of people who have done alot for the vent community. I have created and am in the middle of creating tribute figures for two people who deserve alot of recognition. Bob Albano for his hard work and effort putting together the tribute to ventriloquism website

and Dan Willinger for his website

I am almost finished with Dans and I am starting Bobs. I will show each step as I make Bobs figure. I want to thank Bob foremost for considering me when he put together his tribute and listing me as a figure maker in it. Thank you and God bless.

I will start this weekend showing how I sculpt out a head using a photo of the person, then add mechanics and a little pixie dust to finish them up. Have a great week.

These are pictures of Dans figure. I made it to look like him. What better way than to honor these men who have done so much for us than to imortalize them as vent figures! P.S: I made the heads larger than life so there is no question of them being conversion figures ( ;

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Happy Holloween!

This was one of my favorite holidays! Every year, Darlene and I get set up on the porch, bundle up and give out treats as the children and their costumes parade on through.

You get alot of ideas for vent figures from some of these costumes! The best part is when the holiday is over, the costumes and wigs go up for sale and they are great to use on vent figures!

The holiday season is upon us and things will be getting busy in Gepetto's Workshop.

But as always, anyone needing help in figure making, ventriloquism, or you have an idea for a vent figure you are welcome to email me and I will help you in anyway I can!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Ihave been in contact with a young man now for several months. He entertains for his Church and has been working with me getting a stage figure ready for him.

He was shipped out on Tuesday and will probably receive him today. Malcom is making the transition from conversion figure to stage figure. He is planning on entertaining large groups and wanted several animations. We put together this fellow for him. Blinkers and raising eybrows have been added over several different contacts with him, so this guy has morphed into what he is now. I hope he is everything you want him to be Malcom. Keep in touch!

Monday, October 22, 2007


I go through these "forums" occasionally to see what these "professional ventrioloquists" are talking about. Some of them are great, they share information, help each other out.

One in particular likes to berate people. When people just starting out ask what they should buy, they are met with "don't buy a converted toy" you'll develope bad habits"

They just don't get it. Alot of people don't have 500 dollars to shell out to buy a "professional figure" (a term I get a kick out of) They want something they can practice with and even suggest themselves about getting a conversion figure. They are met with "don't waste your money" buy from this guy. No thought at all to the newbies who then, in cases I have seen right on the blog, disappear off the radar.

These "professionals" do a disservice to their community. Conversion figures are the best to start with. If you are entertaining friends and family, they go over great. I have used them for years in my act and the kids love them. Little kids are afraid of the larger figures. I own 20 stage figures(the larger ones) six of which I made myself. When you entertain on a stage, you need a stage figure. (the proper terminology for the larger figures)

It's not everyone on that forum, just several "know it alls" who have put it upon themselves to be judge and jury of what is right and what isn't.

Do yourself a favor, don't listen to anyone. Get what you like and what you can afford. They are all good figure makers. The conversion figure makers and the "professional" figure makers.

Ventriloquism is a great form of personal as well as audience entertainment. It brings happiness to the lives of the sick or lonely, it is a great teaching aid and it is a great accomplishment when you master it.

Enjoy the art, and don't get caught up in this holier than thou stuff on these blogs. As I have said before, a community that diminishes it's own, diminishes period!

Anyone needing help in this art, figure making or repairs, feel free to email me anytime at I am here to help. Not to criticize. I am also easy to talk to and will not intimidate like the forum I am talking about. Thank you for the questions and comments . Keep them coming!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Be the best person you can be

My wife tells me we are in a retrograde Mercury. For anyone that doesn't know what that means, it is an astrological term and basically (at least to me) means whatever can go wrong, will go wrong. So far it has.

I have been trying to get orders finished and my wife and I both came down with something. Needless to say I am behind in my work.

I had someone tell me the other day " I'm a Christian, so I'll wait till tomorrow to say what I want to say". I still haven't been able to figure that one out. I guess he didn't want to yell at me which is something Christians aren't supposed to do. He wouldn't give me a chance to resolve the problem we had between us which is something else Christians do.

True Christians work out their differences. They don't need to threaten to get their point across AND..... Christians are forgiving. Christian means Christlike.

So all you "Christians" who use this phrase, try being like him not using his name to get a point across! If you have something to say by all means say it! That is another Christian trait. Honesty!

Sorry, I had to get that off my chest. I am not a miracle worker and sometimes make mistakes. If I say it will be done and it isn't, it is something I couldn't help. If there is an issue, I will gladly take care of it. Just give me the opportunity. I try to follow in his footsteps the best I can. That's what we are all supposed to do.

I have a Charlie tribute on ebay this week as well as a Jerry Mahoney. The Charlie was a special order and the person had a family emergency and couldn't pay for him SOOOOOOOOO he is now on ebay. I don't plan on making another one, so he is it.

The emails have been slowing up lately so I just want to remind everyone why I started this blog. I have been a ventriloquist and figure maker for many years and I am here to help anyone with any questions they might have pertaining to figure making, ventriloquism or figure repairs.

I look forward to helping any and all from people becoming interested to fellow veterans. my email address is Hope you all have a great week!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Dr 90210

I finished the repair on Mr. Horn's Selberg. Apparently, he got in a staring contest with the dog and lost.....

His hands and nose were pretty chewed up as the pics show. Here he is with his new nose. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of the hand after i finished it. Maybe Mr. Horn will be able to send me one for my file. Thanks for the photos Tony. Much appreciated.

Here is a picture of Tony with his Selberg.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Nose job

I recently did a repair on a Selberg figure. Tim's work is absolutely amazing. The mechanics inside his heads look like they were designed by an engineer. This guy had all the bells and whistles. blinkers,winkers,cross eyes,raising and lowering eyebrows.... unbelievable!

His figures are top of the line and his prices reflect that. The amount of work that goes into a figure like this is mind boggling. Here are some pictures of the inside of his head.

All of othe mechanics are rod operated. No strings. These figures are built to last forever.

I have seen the inside of many figures heads over the years. This one amazed me.

My wife and I have been busy filling orders this past week. The only down side of that is missing some of this beautiful fall weather. My father came over Saturday and broke us away for dinner at Applebees. The side tracking dinner was just what we needed to get back into the swing of things and get a fresh start Sunday. It was great spending the afternoon with family. Isn't that what it's all about anyway?

Sunday, September 30, 2007


Mr Devane stopped by to pick up Milko this Friday. He was all ready to go and missed home.

I repaired all that needed repair and added a tongue (there had been something there but it was gone. I assumed it was a tongue..... What else would it be?

I seperated theopenings in the ears and usd a fabric adhesive. (BEACON, it's the best there is in my book.) I repaired the neck separation and the mouth fabric which had come unattached to his jaw. I used liquid leather and matched up the color for his toes and finger tips to conceal the green wires that were exposed due to wear.

Irepaired his little smock which had it's ties broken and added new straps and gave him a good dry cleaning. I touched up his nose and glossed his eyes. He is ready to perform.

Mr Devane was pleased with the results and plans on putting Milko in a glass display.

I enjoyed working on him and learned alot about the animated puppets of the 50's through researching him and working on him. I also made a new aquaintance. Mr. DeVane is a professional speaker and voice over artist. One of the bennefits of repairing figures and puppets as well as making them are meeting the interesting people who own them. Good luck Mr. Devane! Take care Milko!