Monday, July 25, 2011

The Ultimate Eye Kit . . . .

We have just added the Ultimate Eye Kit to our shopping cart on our web site.This unique kit includes one pair of eyes (can choose our High Quality, Standard or Economy eyes), our high quality eye tray with 2 forms of attachment, and one pair of our quality styrene winker shells. You can of course purchase any of these items separately as well. We have used these on our professional finished figures for a number of years and save a lot of time when building a figure.

The eye trays with eyes can also be used for setting into the clay on a head sculpt to establish the eye distance and make for more accurate sculpting around the eye areas. Then when that figure is cast, you can use this same eye tray in the finished head and the eye distance from center to center will be perfect in the eye sockets! Cool beans! (grin) Saves a lot of time and fiddling.

Although I show the use of screws for eyeball pivots in my book as one way for figure makers to install eyes on an eye tray, and that works pretty fair. . . , that has never been my preferred method of installing eyes. Smooth brass rods with with smooth brass sleeves acting as a bearing surface (inside the eyeball) makes for a very smooth operating eyeball pivot and will essentially never wear out in the figures that you make. And if you buy eyeballs at the same time you buy an eye tray, we will professionally install the brass sleeves inside the eyes for you at no additional cost! Can't beat that!

Here's where you can find the Ultimate Eye Kit (scroll down the page).....

The response to the Ultimate Eye Kits has been very good so far. Got quite a few orders on these. I better get busy!

Arms, and Hands, and Legs, oh my!

    Added some nice sewn/stuffed 3T legs and hands with sewn/stuffed arms to the shopping cart on our web site. These are the same quality arms and legs that we have used on our professional finished figures for years. My wife Catherine (a professional seamstress) makes these and they are quite nice. I've always marveled at the details she puts into these, including pleats on the side of the joints and the double seam on the knee joints (bends easier and more naturally). These features take more time and skill to do and are usually only found on very high priced figures typically.

You can see the hands with sewn/stuffed arms HERE.

. . . and you can see the nice sewn/stuffed legs HERE.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Experiment in terror #9,783! (grin)

    Like many figure makers, I experiment all the time, as that's the only way you find out if something will work and more importantly if its practical as a regular figure building process. With this past experiment, done a number of years ago, I not only was working on refining my installation of metal winker shells, but also an untried method of doing blinkers (both eyelids closing at same time).

I used brass rods, tubes, brass bar stock as the building blocks of this mechanism, for strength and accuracy of movement. I wanted this to be really precise, with no wiggle room. I also put in some 'soft stops' both for the up travel and down travel of the blinkers, and the down stop was adjustable with a set screw.

All in all it was a very fun experiment and it worked flawlessly. Practical? Well, not so much. It was a lot of work for the desired result. I have several other ways of doing blinkers that are much simpler and a lot easier to build. But it is fun sometimes looking back at some of the past experiments and seeing where the brain of a figure maker will go on occasion! 

I did not get a movie clip of the working mechanism, but I got some sequential photos which I put together in a very short clip so you can get somewhat of a feel for how it worked. . . . 


Friday, July 15, 2011

What is it?!?

   Here's an interesting project I did for a top balloon artist. The request was for an armature or skeletal type head with moving mouth, moving eyes and raising eyebrows, over which balloons could be placed making for a very unique vent puppet. I first had to come up with a concept of how this might look and be practical for use.  Here's one of the drawings I did before starting to build this. . .

   This was fairly challenging as none of the construction was like that of a conventional vent figure, and certainly not something I had done before. I opted to keep the framework simple and overlay it with a light weight covering (I used styrene sheet). The eyes needed to bug out of the head to allow for the thickness of the balloons that would be wrapped around, so I had to come up with a unique way to do that. The mouth had to be such that it would move the surrounding balloons and yet not be that apparent. And here's the kicker. The customer requested that the moving eyebrows be removable! I don't like backing down from a challenge so I figured out ways to do all of the above. Here's the finished armature/head sans balloons. . .

       The eyebrows are indeed easily removable. You just pull them straight out, and then the face is free to wrap balloons around quickly and easily. After all the balloons are in place you simply insert the eyebrows back in place and they are ready to move. This was done with a unique pressure fit set up with silicone tubing. It worked flawlessly. I was quite happy with it. My only regret is that I did not get photos of the inside of the armature and mechanism. Rats! Here's a few photos of the armature/head in use. . .


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Fred with more than a facelift. . . .

   We often have customers send in photos of their finished figures that they've made with our cast parts. One of the most recent ones was quite impressive. Customer Scott Brekken was quite ambitious and turned one of our 'Fred' heads (and other cast parts) into a beautiful 'Mortimer' figure. He really did a nice job on this. . .

   Customer Scott Brekken says: "The Fred figure castings are like a blank canvas for an artist. It is easy to shape, contour or add to the figure. As you can see I changed the eyes, cheeks, jaw, lips, eye brows and ears using Apoxie Sculpt, sand paper and a Dremel tool. Super easy to work on and mistakes were easy to correct as well. Your book and Al Stevens web site were great resources. I took a different approach on the mechanics. Although "Mortimer" has only a moving jaw I kept both the eye tray and the jaw removable so I can change things and make adjustments or additions down the line. (Maybe blinkers, crossing eyes and a stick out tongue!)

   I plan on making my next figure for and with my son Jacob. Thanks for a great kit! I have always wanted a full sized professional vent figure and now I have one." Scott Brekken