You first met this figure while he was in my shop for eye repair. Here he is back home with his owner, Dr. Roland Chan. All decked out in his new threads, Dr. Chan introduces his partner to us as:

"Harold Maxwell, PhD, Emeritus; Vagabond University; expert in Historical Political Conundrums; recovering alcoholic as well. Wife kicks him out of the house a lot, lately, wonder why? My mother-in-law thinks he's into 'monkey business.'"


Long wait; short move

This fellow has been waiting patiently for raising eyebrows, wig and haircut. Today, two weeks after his third birthday, his wait ended! "And, it's about time", was his only reaction. He's right.

Tomorrow he'll be fitted with his new clothes and move a couple blocks south. Just one question, Joy - Freckles?


Shop Talk

Bodies in progress - a nice day's work. (And I still believe I build some of the best in structure, design, and service!)

Redoy Puppet?

Dear Clinton, I recently purchased a vintage Ventriloquist puppet. The lady I purchased him from said he was approximately 30 years old and was made by Redoy Puppets. He is 32" tall, his mouth opens and closes, his eyebrows move up and down and his eyes wink. I was told he has been in storage for 30 years and he was never used. In fact, he still had his hairnet on when I received him. I read on your site that you upgrade vintage puppets. Since his eyes are painted and do not move from side to side, could his eyes be updated with newer more realistic eyes that move from side to side? I have always wanted to learn Ventriloquism so I plan on using him to learn the Art of Ventriloquism.
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From Clinton: The vent figure was made by Redoy Puppets, a business that was owned by my Brother-in-Law, Jay Yoder. ("Redoy" is "Yoder" spelled backwards.) Because the head on the figure is painted, and I did all the painting, this figure would have been a cooperative effort between Jay and myself. Finding him still unused some 30 years after being built is very unusual - if only he could talk! I'd love to hear his story. Yes, I can replace the current eyes with realistic side-to-side eyes. And from the looks of those "toothpick" ankles, I'd suggest replacing current legs with new legs with more lifelike shape and substance. And that hair - wow - appears to need a haircut more than a hairnet. I'll take care of that, too.


April 27, 2009 Littleton, Colorado

7:00 AM
4:00 PM

7:00 am (left)
4:00 pm (right)

6:00 AM

4:00 PM
Colorado weather - ya gotta love it!

Maher Graduate(s)

It definitely makes learning ventriloquism faster and more fun when you have someone to help you as you study and practice. Here's Maher graduate, Donald Bice, with his assistant. Congratulations to BOTH (although only one name is on the certificate . . . Big Fella gets the certificate and Little Buddy is stuck with a wild hat - what kind of a deal is that?!)

"Grand" new resident

When I built this figure last month, my intention was to list it for auction on eBay. But, too late - he's on his way to the "Grand Canyon State" (Arizona) thanks to a reader request and purchase.
Thank you!


LIFE puppets

I know some are puzzled, thinking, "Why a puppet from a cereal box?" You'd be surprised at the creative ways they can (and are) being used as teaching visuals. Here's a comment from one reader who has his thinking cap on...

" I've been looking to buy one of your 'box' figures. It would be great for kid shows - the 'Life' one would tie in with the theme of 'Healthy Living'." Ty

How about a program on "Getting the most out of Life"? You could go many directions with that theme.

I actually designed and built my first 'Life' puppet about 25 years ago for my classroom teaching on the subject of 'Eternal Living'.

"LIFE" PUPPET: $79.95 plus $7.50 shipping. mahertalk@aol.com


From Ryan Bomgardner:

Hey Clinton, You built my character years ago and Jeffrey has done a lot of shows (more than I could possibly count!) since then. 2 questions for you if I may.

1) Where can I get Jeffrey some new eyelashes? He could use some.
2) Jeffrey’s one string to his moving eyes ripped somewhere in the middle (and I’d like to fix it before this upcoming weekend if possible). I think I can replace it myself (if not you’ll be hearing from me!!!!) and I wondered what kind of string I should use.

Thanks for your help. On a separate note, I’m sure you’ve met a lot of people over the years and won’t remember this ‘little boy’ who took the Course. Well the ‘little boy’ is now 25, and I’m pleased to say that this is now my full time job. I’ve been doing about 120-130 shows/year around the US for the last several years. Thanks for all your help in getting me started! I’ll look forward to hearing from you as soon as possible. Ryan

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From Clinton: Now there's a handsome pair! Thanks for sending the photo. We love hearing from past customers and getting updates on their careers. Very encouraging to us!

While we sold the vent figure to you, he was actually built by Keith Lovik. I may have wigged it as I did that on many of the figures Keith built. (Looking closely at it, I even wonder if you may have fit it with his current wig? Looks great.) You can purchase replacement eyelashes in the cosmetic department of your local Walgreens (or similar). I use ordinary household cement (Duco) to glue them in place, using a toothpick to position the eyelash. You could also use Elmer's white glue - it just takes a little longer to dry.

The string used on the figure is a heavy weight nylon braided fishing line. You could also use BRAIDED nylon mason's line. To gain access to the head when the wig has been glued on, I use a Xacto knife with convex blade (#124 blade) to work the wig loose, starting at the nape of the neck and working up over the head until the "door" in the back of the head is totally exposed. Usually it is not necessary to take the wig loose at the sideburns or over the forehead which makes it much easier to put back in place. If the wig is stapled on, simply pull whatever staples necessary. (Use the same Xacto knife to cut the glue seam that holds the door in place.) If I can be of further assistance, let me know. Keep them smiling and don't be a stranger! Clinton


Mystery Marionette!

If you're a collector or marionette artist, I have one for you! 100% wooden - hand carved - made the classic pin jointed style of yesteryear. Original hand paint job. Puppet: 16 inches tall; 24" overall length to control bar. This puppet was found and purchased at an estate auction. I have no idea of it's age or history. The skill of the carving is truly professional.
There are no indentifing markings of any type on this puppet so your guess is as good as mine as to whether it was ever used in a famous production or handled by a famous name artist. The mystery is fascinating. What a delightful collector's piece! I have no other similar pieces. This is one-of-a-kind. Very good condition. If you know anything about this piece, or can make an educated guess, I'd love to hear from you. It is obviously someone's replication of Mickey Mouse, but what's the rest of the story?

For sale NOW on eBay: Click Here

Gary Guitar

Hi Clinton; Here's another of my creations. Gary the guitar is a real guitar that plays, the face is on the back and the mouth moves, controlled by a length of monofiliment fish line anchored to the back of the neck, I press with my index finger and the mouth opens. Bob Conrad


Do a full rehearsal

By Michael Eakins

When rehearsing, vents often go over small chunks of material at a time. This helps the performer learn the material easier and focus on improving the bit. Instead of facing the task of conquering a whole new show, the smaller sections can make mastering the routine go not only quicker, but more intensive. Each chunk can be polished easier and more quickly instead of working on an entire dialogue at once.

However, it is still very important to rehearse a show from start to finish, with all stands, trunks, props, tables, microphones, and anything else that will be on the stage with you. The performer needs to know where everything is to be placed, how to get to it all, how the props are set for easy pick up, which way the trunks are facing and how to get in them, etc. It does not look professional for a vent to stumble around a mic cord or stand, fumble while picking up a prop, or not know which way to head when going to a trunk. Poor staging can break up the rhythm of the show. A full rehearsal might also reveal a break or duplication in material that the performer hadn't even thought about. So, even though it may seem like a lot of work, practicing with everything can really help the show run smoother and you look better.
Newsy Vents 11/05


Audience Particpation

Question: Arty Freda had a tape on audience participation do you have any of his tapes for sale? You also had a book and tape on stage performance by Mike French. Are they still available? Thanks Again, Philip

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Answer: Arty's tape has been out or production for many years. I don't know if Mike French's material is available anywhere or not. I do have some books in stock on similar subjects. Check out those in the Maher Bookstore under the section: Professional Performance Secrets .


Taking orders now.

I have two Cereal Box Puppets completed. Open & Close mouth and Open & Close eyes. The eyes open and close by "rolling" (they do not slide up and down). Very easy and effective. Choose from: Kix, Trix, Life, Capt. Crunch, Fruity Pebbles, Fruit Loops, Frosted Flakes, & Cheerios. $79.95 each plus $7.50 shipping. First come; first serve.
These puppets have a complete inner plywood box unit with all mechanics and controls. The cereal box itself is just the cover, glued to the plywood. Definitely built to last! Spring return on the mouth. Hidden control levers on the back side of unit. Full back panel may be removed should service ever be necessary. mahertalk@aol.com
Note on pricing from my puppet-maker's perspective: As with any new novelty puppet, I really debated on the price of this puppet. Now that the prototype has been built and tested, and I have the construction process worked out, I know it takes me as long to build two of the cereal box puppets as it does to complete one dummy (and I'm pretty fast and efficient at both). The dummy sells for $325.00. Of course, I have more materials cost in a dummy, but once I subtract the materials cost on both, the cereal box puppets should be comparatively priced at about $125.00. But I felt that was higher than I wanted to charge, so I bargained with myself and finally settled on the price of $79.95. I'm willing to complete those I have started at that price. Anything less and I'd probably just throw out all my precut pieces and just go back to building dummies. :-)


"Blinded" due to poor packaging

Clinton: I wish to send the head of a figure I purchased on eBay to you for repair. It was packed in abox too small and it arrived with the eyes fallen into the head, damaged in transit. Please do whatever you think necessary to make it nice. While you are at it, would you change the eyeballs to blue instead of the weird green? Also, the maker did not make the eyes self-center; please install self centering eyes. Please re-string the controls with sturdier cord; repair the cracks and repaint adding shading as needed. When you open the trap-door, if you find the door to be shabby, please hinge and latch it properly. Please revise the internal eye shelf as you see fit. I like the wig. Roland
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Roland: From the photos you sent I don't think the repair of the eBay dummy will be major. And I agree, the damage was done during shipping transit. Shipper's handling is not always gentle, and we know that. Thus, it is the responsibility of the shipper to pack items well enough to safely travel through the system. (I've watched clerks toss boxes into bins, so with that picture in my mind, my products are packed well protected to endure such handling, and I've not had a problem.) Changing the color of the eyes is not easy. I'll address that issue after I see the figure. I'm going to guess we'll need to replace the eyes with new mounts.

"Now I See!"

Repairs and repainting completed. (see previous post.)


58 years - just like yesterday

When I was in 9th grade, I took Vocational Agriculture in school. My favorite times in that class were the hours spent in the school's shop. For one six week period I selected blacksmithing. I loved the sights, smells, and heat of the forge; the sound of the hammer shaping red hot metal on the anvil. One of my projects was making a basketball goal which my Dad help me mount on the side of our barn ... fastened to a backboard which I also built and painted. Over the following years my brothers and friends spent countless hours shooting hoops on our outdoor barnyard court.

Here you see the backboard and goal as they appear today. Last Thanksgiving weekend our family revisited the farm where we grew up. What a pleasant surprise it was to see my school project from nearly 60 years ago still in place and functional! It seemed just like yesterday!

On the chance we would find the goal still in place I had taken a basketball along so I could play a game of "Horse" with two of my grandchildren who are basketball enthusiasts. I can't put into words the special pleasure I experienced playing with my grandchildren at the very place where I had spent so many hours playing as a youth! Oh, the stories I shared as we took our turn shooting at the hoop!
And guess who won!!


Presidential Dummy

Instead of cutting spending it appears this one-of-a-kind 22" tall Presidential figure shrunk himself! Not only can he reduce your taxes, now he can fit in the palm of your hands. Yes, he can!
He has a hollow body with headstick, head turns full circle, tilts, nods, etc.. Believe it or not, he also has side to side self-centering eyes. Created by Kevin Detweiler.

Snow delay . . .

Looking out our kitchen window this morning, it is obvious those cereal box puppet units I assembled yesterday are going to have to wait a few days before painting. After over 24 hours of continuous snowfall (and continuing), the deck table where I take items to be spray painted has accumulated about a foot of very wet Spring snow. (Only half of the total as much has melted as it fell.)
Don't feel sorry for us. The moisture is badly needed and as the weather warms over the weekend and the sun comes out tomorrow, this scene will only be a memory by Monday.

Still available with full support

Question: I bought a home study ventriloquist course a few months ago and was slow to register it. Can I still register and receive the free material and support? I have the course code. Thanks. Mary

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Answer: There is no deadline for Maher Course registration or completion. Yes, please do register and begin your study and practice of ventriloquism. There are people eagerly waiting for your shows! And for anyone reading this who would like more details about the Maher Home Course of Ventriloquism, Click Here


Rocky Mountain Springtime!

It's been snowing heavily all day and forecast to continue all night. The downside is the fact that we can't get out of the house. The upside is that I was able to get some good productive time in my shop ... once I cleared a path! If the sun shines tomorrow (and there's a good chance it will), I'll be able to paint the units made today. Growing up on a farm, the weather often determined what work was accomplished on any given day. Who knew the same would hold true for puppet making!

For Sale

You may have seen this happy fellow in the Easter basket on my post this past Sunday (Easter). Wednesday I listed him for auction on eBay (with additional pictures): Click Here

This week I have the following books listed for eBay auctions (ending Monday). All books are like new, mint condition:

Adventures In The Vent Trade
Audience Tested Dialogues
Banquet Performing
Church Chuckles (signed)
Classic Comedy Dialogues
Enlightening & Entertaining Gospel Dialogues
Fractured Nursery Rhymes (best seller)
From The Beginning To The Hawg Slopper
Gramps and Granny Giggles Vol. 2
Granny's Jots And Tittles
Holiday Adventures
More Church Chuckles (signed)
More Warm Fuzzies
My Favorite Routines
My Feelings Are Showing
Safety Dialogues Vol. 1
Safety Dialogues Vol. 2
Safety Dialogues Vol. 3
School Talk For Dummies
Short Bible Routines Vol. 1
Short Bible Routines Vol' 2
The Bible Tells Me So
Ventriloquism From A-V (Excellent)
Ventriloquism In A Nutshell (signed)
Ventriloquism Revealed (signed)
111 Ways Tor Use Ventriloquism In Church

A complete detailed description of the contents of each book is posted on each individual listing along with an image of the book's cover. To see all my current eBay listings, including the above books,

Last month's project

This clown was an early Chuck Jackson figure, and came to me from its new owner, Cal Freeman, with specific character change instructions. The head is beautifully crafted, carved of Basswood.

The latex molded body is the first I've seen with "C. Jackson" molded into the side of the body. The fastening of the arms to the very bottom of the body is unique as well.

I rebuilt the raising eyebrows so they could lower as well as raise. The requested new hair style (ala Chuckie) was a challenge!
And the figure was repainted, obviously. You can see the final results below.