Carving a puppet head

Question: Hi Clinton. I am progressing well with the Course and would like to start making a
puppet. I have been doing wood carving for years and would like to carve a head out of basswood, but can't find any plans. Is a carved head cut from one piece or is it built up from rough shaped planks like the hull of a sailing ship? Rob
* * * * * *
Answer: I have never carved a vent figure's head from wood. But I have worked on many carved by various figure makers. All I have handled were made of boards laminated together, as you suggest. I found a file photo of a basswood head made by Lovik. If you study it closely, you will see at least three thicknesses of boards. While I do not know the technique, you can also see that center circles of varying sizes were cut from the boards prior to gluing them together, thus creating a rough hollow head even prior to carving the outer features (using a duplicarver). I've always considered wood carving and figure making two separate skills. If you know woodcarving, you have one important skill mastered. The mechanical aspect of a vent figure is pretty much the same, regardless of the materials from which the head is made. One such plan is Make Your Own Dummy by William Andersen. Clinton


  1. From Scott Bryte: I make wooden ventriloquist's dummies. I've used pine, Basswood, and even White Maple (I think I made the only vent figure in history that can stop a bullet). You might have seen my Benjamin Franklin (that's the Maple one) or my armored angel at the 2007 conVENTion.
    I would be happy to talk to Rob about how to make a wooden head.

  2. Andrew Vondersaar2/24/2009

    The lovik head is actually made up of about 8 different peices of wood. The front of the face is layered from forehead to the neck. Then thes one peice for the ears, one for behind the ears, one for the trap door and one for the ball and socket neck.

    So basically the front of the face is 4 pieces stacked horizantal. Then the back of the head is 3 pieces set vertically with the extra peice at the neck.

    Having this many pieces allows you to make the inside of the head hollow without having to carve it out.

    Good luck on your adventures!