Seasonal puppet-urges

Either I'm gaining control of my impulsive creativity, or my creative juices are waning...but this season I've been able to walk through the Halloween display aisles of local stores with nary a second glance at items with "puppet potential". Truthfully, I've just been much too busy to be spending time on novelty puppets. Maybe another season...
PS: You can see some of past projects on my photo album page: www.maherphotos4.blogspot.com


Reader Writes

Hi Clinton,

Thank you so much for such an enjoyable time of refreshment and learning as I journeyed through the New millennium Course of Ventriloquism over the last few months. I have been in the field for the past 17 years. But I had never taken your Course until now. May I suggest to anyone out there if you haven't taken this Course and you want to improve your skills and learn some valuable information that you can't get anywhere else, take this wonderful Course. It is truly a gold mind! It will add nuggets of gold into your mind and make you even more creative in the Art of Ventriloquism!

Thank You so much for the New Millennium Course. I will continue to work with Ventriloquism in churches and hopefully the doors will open up soon for more Schools and the Libraries and where ever joy needs to be spread!

The character in this photo is Mr. Bad who originally was purchased from Maher Studios many years ago. Since then Mr. Bad has had a face lift you could say. (A brand new head was in desperate need.)
Blessings, Christine Campbell
"Creative Characters"


Dressed to impress!

"Hello, Clinton. Just to let you know that Scotty has arrived safe and sound in the UK. Scotty, who has been re-named Albert II, is working a charity event this Friday, then Albert & Ada are working together on Saturday. Please find attatched pictures of Albert II with Ada. This is before they start work, having a quiet few moments." Natalie Vickery


Deadline passed?

Mr. Detweiler,

I took your Course several years ago. I completed and turned in the quizzes, but realized only recently that I never took the final test. Is it possible to find mercy for my oversight and allow that final test so I can hang that certificate proudly in my office?

I have used the principles I have learned from your Course for over ten years now. I am a children's minister and Sunday school teacher with a passion for allowing my imagination to run wild in an effort to bring the Word of God to life every week.

May God bless you for all your diligence in sharing your gifts with the world!

God bless,
Rev. Craig Hedges
* * * * *
Rev. Hedges: I've always stated there is no deadline for completing the Course - so while I am now retired, I've continued to fulfill that promise and will do so as long as I am able. Yes, send the final exam to the address on the exam (PO box 420, Littleton CO 80160). I'm excited and encouraged to know you continue to use ventriloquism in your ministry! Clinton Detweiler


Personalized Books

Question: I ordered some books from you probably 10 years ago called Ventriloquism Revealed - it had a picture of me and my figure on the front with information and discount code on the back---do you still do this?
* * * * * *
Answer: The Ventriloquism Revealed books that we printed for ventriloquists, personalized with their pictures and names on the cover, were very popular. Several dozen performers took advantage of the opportunity, selling their books after shows and/or giving them as gifts and prizes. The program was designed to promote both the individual ventriloquist and the North American Association of Ventriloquists. The NAAV was disbanded in 2004. The offer for personalized books ended at that point. I'm not aware of anyone offering a similar program. Clinton Detweiler.


Update on Speedy (Sparky) the Turtle

From Barb Gregersen:

I won a turtle puppet in a poetry contest you held July 2008. I've used "Sparky" with several Heart Start groups this summer. He tells them about his race with the hare and encourages the children to be persistent, even when the task is difficult. The children really respond to him. Thanks again for creating him.


(Andersen little fellow)

Question: I recently acquired what may be a Bill Andersen wooden figure from the 1970's, I believe. It's 18" tall, and it's constructed to fit on another dummy's lap. The mouth moves by a pull string through a hole in the side of the figure. It has a mohair wig. Perhaps it's by another maker? Thank you for your time. George Bosh
* * * * * *
Answer: This little fellow was definitely made by William (Bill) Andersen. You mention it is a "wooden" figure, but I would bet the head is wood composition (Plastic Wood). Mr. Andersen made a number of these "dummy's dummy" and sold them from his dealer table at the conventions, especially during the time period you suggest. His signature artistry and figure making style were quite distinctive.


40 years and counting....

Some things continue unchanged. Today I was up early at my desk grading exams submitted by current students studying the Maher Home Study Course of Ventriloquism, New Millennium Edition. And I made out completion certificates for those who had met the Course requirements. I've been acting as Student Advisor for just over 40 continuous years now, and find it as enjoyable today as the day I began. Probably more so, since we're working with a much superior program now. And the students themselves are a continual encouragement to me personally with comments such as these I just received:

"I have thoroughly enjoyed this Course, full of enlightenment, knowledge, and fun. Would highly recommend. Thank you for sharing this with me." Natalie Vickery

"Very in depth Course. I have enjoyed it very much." James Tucker

For 75 years the Maher Home Course has been a vital and effective contributor to the ventriloquist community around the world. I feel so privileged and blessed to be a part of the continuing experience. You will find information on how to purchase the Maher Course here: http://www.maherstudios.blogspot.com/


Hi Clinton, You asked for it. So here is our silly submission.

Creating Soft Sculpture Puppets can sometimes be a Zinger. . .
The right combination of materials does make a Ringer
But the slightest Mistake. . .
Is all it does Take
For a needle to run through your Finger!!!

Steve at the Dummy Shop

(limerick) (invites others to send?)

From Larry Youngberg:

Hey, do you like limericks? Bart wrote a limerick about how he doesn't like to be called a dummy. He is sitting here making me write it down so don't blame me.

Some say we are lifeless and without vigor
Some of us are small and some are bigger
Some have moving eyes
But no matter what our size
We're not a doll or dummy. We are a figure.
* * * * * *
Do you have an original limerick of your own as pertains to ventriloquism? Send it in: mahertalk@aol.com

Larry Youngberg


Custom License plate

Question: Clinton, Do you have any idea who makes license plates with "vent" sayings on them...such as "I talk to myself", etc?
* * * * * *
Answer: Are you referring to actual legal license plates? Those would have to come from your state's motor vehicle department. In Colorado we are required to have a state plate on both the front and rear bumper. So we have no license plate option other than those offered by the official licensing bureau. (I had the Colorado personalized plate "TALK42" for several years.) Some states do not require a front bumper licence plate, in which case a person can be more creative. I've seen vendors at the state fair who sell a huge variety of novel plates, including those they will custom make plates to individual wishes. And then, of course, there is the option of displaying some sort of a license frame with creative names or short sayings. Have you tried a Google search for a provider? Surely someone is offering such items. Clinton



I want to thank those of you who responded to the request for ideas ventriloquists might use when presenting programs on the subject of bullying. You will find them here:


Additional ideas, scripts, suggestions on this subject are welcome and will be added to the above site. Send your contributions to:

A request for advice

As many others have found, the economy has made it difficult for the unemployed to find work. However, God is faithful. During my time as pastor, I used ventriloquism in my children's messages. Recently, I performed as a ventriloquist in a local MADE IN OKLAHOMA festival, with my Aiden Malone and Festus D. Hayseed figures. This gave me the opportunity to pass out many business cards. Out of this came a call from a pastor to hire me to bring a Gospel ventriloquist show with one of my vent figures, with my lovely wife leading the music.

Our prayer is that this will lead to the opportunity to take our program to other churches.The pastor who hired us to come to his church is helping us to get publicity for the show. A flyer is being put in the local newspaper. It is being announced on the radio. My family and I are sending brochures with information about ourselves, the music we do (including the songs my oldest son writes),and my Gospel ventriloquist skits to other churches.

Are there other methods besides what we are now doing that could help in growing this ministry/career? Thank you for your prayers and advice.

Yours in Christ,
Russell Baker
* * * * *
Any advice for Mr. Baker? I'll pass it on: mahertalk@aol.com


Hello, Mr. Detweiler:

I promised you some pictures of "Shorty". He made his debute on Sunday and was a big hit.

The Rt. Rev. Kirk Stevan Smith
The Diocese of Arizona
* * * * * * *
Reader Question: GREAT looking figure! Looks for all the world like wild Bill Hickock! What line of figures is this in? W.S.
Answer: This is a one-of-kind custom character from the Super-Supreme family of ventriloquist figures I build. Clinton


Loss by fire

I receive many encouraging emails. And many that make me smile. Even those that are puzzling. I've shared some of them here. But periodically I receive an email that brings a tear to the eye. The following is such an example::

"Hello, Clinton. My daughter had a male doll she named Timmy. She used him during children's church, but back in April our church burned down and Timmy was in the church. She used him Easter morning in a skit she did about the resurrection of Jesus. She has never left him at church before but for some reason she did, so you can only imagine how distraught she was when she realized he was gone." Stacy

Stacy's daughter now has a new doll to work with. A female character. Losing a vent figure is in some ways like losing a beloved member of the family. Timmy can never be replaced so I believe they were wise to move on with a new character.


Walking Figures

Question: I've read many times that some Ventriloquist used walking figures. I would like to know what is a walking figure? How does it's mechanism work?
* * * * *
Answer: The only walking figures I have handled personally were made by Frank Marshall. There really was no "mechanism" as such. Each leg was one single "stiff legged" piece, hinged at the hip. By holding the figure upright and leaning slightly to one side, (one foot against the floor and the other off the floor), the figure would be moved forward while at the same time swinging it slightly to cause the leg free from the floor to swing forward. Then the figure would be tilted to the opposite side so the forward foot was held against the floor and the movements repeated. As the movements were repeated in a smooth practiced manner, the figure would appear to "walk". Clever, but I question the practicality for today's ventriloquist's. (The photo of Senor Wences you see below was taken in 1942. Yes, that is a vent figure and not a live girl - the awkward jointed angle at the hip of the figure's left leg is one clue.) Reader Comment: Thanks so much for posting this photo! I am a HUGE Wences fan! I remember seeing this years ago in "Newsy Vents". Matter of fact, I took a photo of that image with my camera, sent it to him, & had him autograph it. I have MANY autographs of him & am the one who sent you the cassete of his record. I also was blessed with meeting the great man at the testimonial luncheon Al Getler held in his honor April 2nd, 1989. Thanks again! W.S.


Things not to do!

Just looking at him resting here you'd think he has nary a care in the world. Truth is, he has plenty. He lies here silently staring into space with a totally broken neck with linkages from all controls broken as well. Those are serious ailments for a dummy! How could such a thing happen? The owner forgot the little fellow's head had been left (covered with head wrap) on the front seat of the car - and accidentally sat on him! Oh - if dummies could only speak!!!


Figure Order Questions

Are your Vent Figures in stock or made as ordered?
I build figures as they are ordered.

Some studios require a deposit with no refund if you change your mind! What is your policy?
I do require 50% deposit with full payment required when the figure is finished and ready to ship. I guarantee my work and would accept a returned figure for refund (within 14 days and unused) if it proves unsatisfactory. But if there is any likelihood that you might change your mind while the figure is being built, may I suggest you wait until you are certain of your decision before ordering? You can see a wide variety of the characters I have made Here.

What is the waiting time for delivery?
I ship in approximately 14 days after receiving deposit.

Is this offered by Pay Pal?
Yes, PayPal, check or money order. PayPal preferred.

Customer comment:

"Hi Clinton! I LOVE her!!! I thought I had a name for her, but after her arrival I really think she deserves my giving it a little more thought to get just the right name for her! She is just perfect for me and exactly what I have needed to work with!! Thank you soooo much!!!!!" Lila

* * * * * *

"Thank you, Lila - you made my day!" Clinton


Help needed here, please.

Question: "I am looking for something on the subject of "bullying" do you have anything on that subject."
* * * * *
Answer: No, I have no material specifically addressing the subject of "bullying". Any suggestions, tips, dialogues, from anyone? Send them to mahertalk@aol.com and I'll post them here. Thank you.



Soft Puppet storage tip

Jet, of The Dummyshop, has just announced this new Troll character. Amazingly detail, head to toe! Their announcement came with a puppet care tip which is excellent for all who use soft puppets, and I pass it on here with their permission:

"Store your Soft Sculpture Puppets with a dust cover. Do not store them long term in plastic bags, as this does not allow them to breathe. A pillow case makes a good dust cover and will still allow the foam to breathe unlike plastic which would cause the foam to stagnate. Both you and your puppet will breathe easier this way, and you can get many more years of service from your investment."

You may contact Jet at dummylady01@gmail.com


To repair or not to repair?

Question: I bought 3 dummies from Maher before and need a new one---that is, unless you can fix the one I have currently, which I really like. It’s the Hispanic model—black hair & eyebrows. One of the eyebrows keeps coming off and I’ve superglued it back on twice but to no avail. Of course, it would be nice not to have to buy a new dummy as I’m a missionary with limited funds. Can you advise me please? Thanks! Ginny
* * * * * *
Answer: Not to brag, but I haven't met many dummies I can't repair. (Although I have met a few where I chose not to do so. :-) Check out this photo album of mine: http://www.maherphotos8.blogspot.com/

The majority of the time, it is much more economical to pay for repairs than it is to purchase a new figure. Why don't you send the one you want fixed to me and let me see what I can do for him (and you)? Clinton


Talking Ties

Question: I am a volunteer clown at three hospitals in Connecticut. I had an old product called the Talking Tie, and I used the inside to create a talking pocket for my costume lab coat. The patients love it and I enjoy using it. All my other clowns in the troupe would like one, but I can't find them anymore. A friend who works with puppets suggested I contact you. Do you know of these ties or know where I can get the little plastic inner workings? Any help that you are able to give me would be greatly appreciated.

* * * * * *
Answer: Your adaptation of the Talking Tie is a clever one, indeed! The Talking Ties were invented by our son, Kevin Detweiler. To increase the production, Craig and Pat Lovik of Lovik World were licensed to produce the tie puppets and did so for several years - until about 1994, I believe. Unfortunately, a marriage breakup eventually caused the demise of Lovik World and brought an end to the production of a number of unique and very popular puppets, including the Talking Tie. Kevin has made several efforts to again produce the ties himself, but so far, that has been unsuccessful. Ironically, another clown just sent us a copy of an old advertising flyer asking if they could purchase one of the "Clown Talking Ties"! I had to smile as I read this phrase at the bottom of the advertising piece, "The distributor of Talking Ties assumes no responsibility for what a tie says once it leaves the studio. After all, Talking Ties are actually just clever puppets for adults." That phrase was a result of complaints from a couple non-vent customers who could not get their ties to talk! They thought they had a defective tie and did not realize the tie was just a puppet and the wearer needed to provide the voice!


Side by Side

From Jim Hess

Clinton, I recently purchased Kevin's side by side stand. It is wonderful. The first day I had it I used it for some walk around. It was great to have one hand free, and was much less tiring compared to carrying the puppet. This morning I used it while performing for some Sunday School children. Again I loved using the side by side. It was no longer necessary to stand stationary in one place. Especially with children it is wonderful to be free to move about. It also packs nicely in one of the pockets of my case. No need to carry a bulky stand. Besides being functional, it is also very attractive.

In the picture you will also see "Larry", a Danny puppet that you upgraded about a year ago for me. I continue to marvel at the transformation you performed on him, and I love using him.
* * * * *
For more information on this item, Click here/ and scroll down to "Side By Side".


From Steve at The Dummy Shop

Hi Clinton,

I was particularly intrigued by the pics from the State Fair.

On the last day of the Colorado State Fair in 1965, I learned a lesson that has stayed with me all these years.

At the end of the show, a very kind older gentleman was good enough to let me "help" him load his horse on his trailer. I took the rope from him and backed up to the back door of the trailer. Then I stepped up backwards into the trailer, but try as I might, that horse would only pull away from me. He had no intention of getting in the trailer.

The old gentleman watched with some amusement for a while and then walked over and told me to turn around and walk forward. I did so, and to my surprise the horse stepped up and walked right in at which time I exited the trailer from the front door.

The owner explained to me that horses are just like some people. They will not follow someone who is too afraid to face the destination. They too feel that there must be something to be afraid of.

It is a lesson that I never forgot. It holds true in every area of leadership. Move forward and face the situation. . . Others will follow.


Labor Day 2009

Both USA and Canada are on holiday today. I hope you are enjoying your day. Scotty (here) is my most recent completion. Black hair and blue eyes - very striking color combination! He should be arriving in the UK shortly, ready to work. Exactly what I'll be doing ... first thing in the morning. (Yawn)


Tractor Fair

Adelia and I went to the Colorado State Fair this past week. Tractors always catch my eye, especially the red Farmall by International Harvester. The tractor in this picture was restored by a 4-H member. Very nicely done. My Dad started me driving our "tricycle" model (like the one on my shirt in this photo) Farmall tractor in the fields when I was 8 years old. Seems frighteningly young now, but that was pretty typical of that day and age. And I loved it.

It was raining the evening we took ththe above outdoor photo, so we took shelter in the 4-H building where as an old cake decorator I'm always drawn to the cake exhibits. Today's young gals (and a couple guys) display amazing talent with their sweet art! (This cake was the fifth place winner.)

I spotted Pinocchio in the Creative Arts building, surrounded by Blue ribbons...no wonder he's smiling!



Dear Clinton:

Here is a picture of the latest figure I’m working on. The linkages are not in the photos because I wanted to have shots made showing where everything goes. There are no strings being used and I will send you some more photos as the head comes together. Many thanks to Mike Brose for supplying the castings. All the best, thanks again for your daily news blog, and enjoy the summer!

Mark Garrett


Puppet Exhibit

Bob Abdou provided this exhibit for the Puppetry Arts Institute Museum, Independence, Kansas. The collection was displayed for a year. Just recently Bob returned to the Museum to give 2 shows and 2 workshops, and take down the exhibit. Area ventriloquists, Ron Scherer and Bonita Yoder (left to right with Bob on the far right in the photo below) came to attend the final workshop and helped break down the exhibit. This exhibit was also a dedication to Bill Boley, after each show the museum passed out finger puppets that looked like vent dummies!
Most folks don't know about his museum but Bob says it is one of the best he has worked with and says the staff are tops. A MUST see for and puppet lover.
Here is where you will find more information: http://www.hazelle.org/

"You can always tell when entertainers are tired!"


Mr. D's Photo Albums

Please take a look at the following Photo Albums I've been working on the past weeks. I do believe you will find them interesting, informative, and enjoyable.
#6 #500 Series Pro Figures by Detweiler 1982-1983
#5 Pro Figures built 1969-1974 by Clinton Detweiler and family: http://www.maherphotos5.blogspot.com/
#4 Clinton's Novelty Creations 1990-present:
#2 Clinton's Novelty Creations 1969-1989:
#3 Super-Supreme Ventriloquist figures:
#1 Kevin's "Retired" Creations:
#8 Repair, Upgrade & Repainting Examples
More to come!


New torso only?

Question: I would like to know if you sell just the upper torso for a 32" figure? I purchased a figure a while back from eBay but she looks like she is wearing football shoulder pads. I tried to remake her torso, but the way the wood was originally cut, no alterations can be made. I can reuse the arms, hands, head, and legs. I only need the part where I placed my hand in the back. The neck hole would need to be a little larger than the "Rusty" you made for me. I measured around the neck base (just before the headstick) and it measures 9 1/2". Can you help me and resolve my problem?
* * * * *
Answer: Yes, I can build a nicely contoured torso for your little gal. But I would like to have the current torso in hand so I can match the size more accurately. So I would like to ask that you send the current body to me if you want me to do the job. I'll build a new torso and move the arms and legs to the new torso. (In the photo below you can see the completed body with her new torso on the left. The original torso is on the right.)