Reverse Auction

I've put this newly completed figure up for sale with a unique REVERSE AUCTION. The starting "Buy-It-Now" price of $350 will be LOWERED by $10 each week until the figure is sold!

The longer the buyer waits, the more he or she saves. However, the longer the buyer waits, the more likely they will lose the bid!

Not a good job ...

From Jim Burke

Hi Clinton, I received the new body (right) yesterday for "Miguelito", and I need to tell you that you did not do a good job.....you did a FABULOUS JOB! Workmanship was superb, truly professional. The way you packed the body for shipping was also professionally done--I don't know whether you did it personally or had someone else pack it but it gives the purchaser a wonderful impression even before the bubble wrap is removed. Everything is great!

I know that you are busy, but I wanted to give you a very brief history of this puppet. When we left for the mission field in Colombia, South America, in 1978 I took a professional figure with me from your studio. I think it came from the workshop in California, and the original name it was sold under was Homer. It had a tooth proceeding from underneath the upper lip. It also had a deer skin mouth.

Unfortunately, that figure was stolen [not an uncommon occurrence in Colombia]. My father, who is now 91, came to visit us and brought a small figure that you have sinced identified as Hal from Madeline Maher. It was not in good condition---but I ordered a wig from your studio for the figure, and I used it in Colombia, even carrying it one time in my saddle bag as I rode a horse to a mission point in the Ande mountains. I gave him the name of Miguelito "Little Mike" in English). I used the figure for years after returning to the States with great response wherever I went. It seemed that no matter what type of program I gave (I am also a juggler, magician) it was always acclaimed to be the favorite part of the program. I did school programs in New Mexico and parts of Texas on character and it was one of the featured presentations. After several years I had you refurbish the head (and what a professional job that was! You even added the raising eye brows without charge. I still don't know why I didn't have you do the body then). Clothes continued to cover up a body that was in very poor condition (photo left).

I have other figures now, of varied sizes, but Miguelito continues to be one of the favorites. This goes to show that the size of the figure does not determine the audience response. The personality that the ventriloquist gives to the figure and how well the ventriloquist makes the figure come to life does.

Thanks for extending years to the use of this special figure, Miguelito Milkweed.


We have a winner!

This is a double-collectible! A matted and framed Great Ventriloquist collector card of Fred Maher PLUS an actual 1999 Vent Haven Convention pin featuring a likeness of Mr. Maher's Skinny Dugan. Skinny was one of the famous McElroy Bros. figures. The likeness on the pin was drawn by Dave Miller. This very nice and definitely unique 5x7 piece, and was won by Jim Burke, the required 4th person to email me after reading this post.


Poor little "Nick Nack" had his headpost broken from his head in an accident last Spring. He belongs to my cousin, Bonita Yoder, who brought him to me to see what I could do for him. It's always been my position that if the maker of any figure is still in the business it's better to have the figure returned to the original builder for needed repairs. It's easier for the one who designed and crafted the figure and mechanics to make any necessary repairs. And it should be faster.

My policy has always been to give priority to repairs necessary on any figure I made or sold, even if it meant working evenings and/or weekends. Unfortunately, Bonita has had difficulty making contact with his builder. Thus, poor Nick Nack has been out of commission for months. And then this past week when I learned from Bonita it was going to be sometime after March 1st before repairs would be made, I decided he had waited unattended long enough; further delay was unacceptable. So although a bit reluctantly, I did take him into my shop, disassembled his headpost and controls, studied the damaged linkage, successfully made necessary repairs, and now, finally, he's ready to return to action! (We're all breathing a sigh of relief!)



The box was delivered to my door and when I opened it I was met with the sorrowful faces of three vent figures with broken mouths! Triple-trouble! Not only did two of them try to swallow their entire mouths, but the big fella was even missing his upper front teeth.

All are now repaired, chatting amicably and excitedly amongst themselves and will be on their way home (where their bodies await!) shortly!

Just another day in the life of a puppet repair person.


Self-made man

From Michael Richards:

As promised, here are photos of the ventriloquist figure I made using Bill Andersen's book. The figure is sculpted with plastic wood, using Apoxie Sculpt for final details. He is a full sized, 40" pro figure with slot jaw mouth and side to side moving eyes.
* * * * * *
From Clinton: Great job, Michael. And such strong character expression. Well done. Thank you for sharing your photos. To those of you reading this, the book Michael is referring to is Make Your Own Dummy by William Andersen. I do have this book in stock. $6.00 postpaid.
* * * * * *
From Michael: Hello, everybody. I agree that the plastic wood currently on the market isn't very good, but I found I could get it to act more like clay by adding some white flour into it. I didn't have access to any fine sawdust, since I live in an apartment, and don't have a studio. Flour worked great.
I tried all the wood fillers on the market, and the one I like best is Elmer's Carptenter's Wood Filler. Mixed with some flour, it works great. When working, I would just add flour until the stuff was the right consistency. To keep it from drying too fast, just add a little bit of water while you work. I kept a cup of water beside me at the table, and I would dip my fingers into it and work the water into the sculpture.
Also, I didn't use molds. I first used paper mache over a balloon to get a hollow head. Once dry, I put the plastic wood over that. As I said, I used Apoxie Sculpt (similar to Magic Sculpt), which is an epoxy clay, for finer details. Although, I would not do this again, because epoxy is really hard to sand. Also it's pretty heavy.
I'm making a figure now out of paper clay. I recently met a professional and well-known sculptor named Bill Nelson. He makes vent figures and dolls for celebrities and such. And he uses paper clay. I tried it, and the stuff is amazing. It's very easy to work with, can be kept workable with water for as long as you need, and dries in less than 24 hours. When it dries, it's rock hard, but sands like a dream. I found you can still use Mr. Andersen's book. You just replace the usage of plastic wood with paper clay. I wish I'd known about paper clay ages ago!
Incidentally, I didn't use anyone to pose for my old man figure. I actually changed the face three times as I sculpted, deciding on an old man at the very end. I used pictures of my own grandfather when sculpting the wrinkles and making the age spots.Thanks for all the wonderful comments! -Michael Richards


Where's Emmett?

Question: I'm curious to find out what Emmet has turned out to be. Can we have an update of his progress?

* * * * *
Answer: He is in this photo - your job is to find him. (I will have more on him at some future date.)

We have our winners!

During the '80s I did all the printing for Maher Studios on our own in-house offset press. While I leaned the craft, the quality of the printing admittedly decreased some; however, the volume of printed materials increased tremendously due to the reduced costs for publication (I "volunteered" much of my time - wasn't planned that way - just the way it worked out!).
I used color much more frequently as well. This Nov/Dec 1988 Newsy Vents is one of those self-print items. Vent photos found on the 12 page issue: Liz VonSeggen, Clint Hammonds, Ronn Lucas, Mr. Hart, Al Getler, Timothy Arends, and Joyce Wilkes. Plus vent news and helpful articles.

A signed copy of this issue was offered free to the first six people who contacted me after reading this post. The winners are in and will be announced soon.

Book 16 ...

The prizes of the last give-way, and the stories that accompany them and their winners, seek to take on a life of there own. Here's what yet another winner wrote yesterday:

"It seems Book 16 may be magical because the people who won it seem to be better for it. One person receives it as they seem to begin their Journey into ventriloquism. One gives it to help some one entering this world of tight lipped talkers. Another person gives theirs on to another person who generously passes it on as a gift of gratitude! And I have received it with much joy because it was just the tool I needed.

"I have recently (as of September) become a co-youth leader at my church for my church's youth group and at the same time I have become the Assistant Teacher for the high school Sunday school class. Because I hold those two positions I have been trying to find ways to convey the message and I plan to use the book to not only inspire me in ways to teach my youth but to help my youth, as well as myself, tell others about the love of Christ without having to just stand around and quote the Bible. Best Wishes,
Josh Minetree"


From Winkle and Wags
‘Twas the day after Christmas and I returned here,
to a long-favored website I’ve always held dear.
I knew right away I was here for a reason.
To wish all who visit the best of the season!
A safe, happy and very Merry Christmas season to all
and a New Year of loud laughs …
stilled lips … and peace, health and happiness.

Ventriloquism with purpose

From "Dialogue Book #16 Winner" Ron Havens:

You are my ventriloquism Santa. Even if I hadn't won this time you have already given me the best gift of the year. You sent me my first "official" vent figure (see photo). I use him all the time and really enjoy it.
I named him "Ruben Nathaniel Young". His initials (RNY) are representative of the name for the weight loss surgery I had, in July 2009, about the same time you sent him to me. Both Ruben and my surgery are blessings God has given me. I have used him in all my shows since I got him and I have lost 125 pounds since surgery.

Every time I use Ruben "on stage" and mention his full name I am reminded of the commitment I have toward both my ventriloquism ministry and being healthy. Both things are means of doing my part in God's will for my life.

I want to wish you and your family a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

God Bless,
Ron Havens

"It was the day after Christmas . ...

.... at a church in SanFrancisco. The pastor of the church was looking over the crèche when he noticed that the baby Jesus was missing from among the figures. He hurried outside and saw a little boy with a red wagon, and in the wagon was the figure of the little infant Jesus. So he walked up to the boy and said,"Well, where did you get your passenger, my fine friend?" The little boy replied, "I got Him at church." "And why did you take Him?" The boy explained, "Well, about a week before Christmas I prayed to the little Lord Jesus and I told Him if He would bring me a red wagon for Christmas I would give Him a ride around the block in it."


Christmas 2009

"What can I give Him,
Poor puppet that I am?
If I were a shepherd,
I would give Him a lamb.

"If I were a wise man,
I would do my part -
But what can I give Him?
(With Clinton's help...)
...I'll give Him my heart."*

Merry Christmas from

Clinton & Adelia

* Adapted from poem by Christina Rossetti
Christmas Eve 2009
Kneeling L-R: Hannah and Nicole
Standing L-R: Dale, Joy, Adelia, Clinton


We have our winners!

In 1974 we (Maher Studios) published a series of 36 dialogue books with dialogues authored by nearly 100 different members of the NAAV (North American Association of Ventriloquists). Three of the books contain my own personal writings. This book #16 of Gospel Dialogues one that I authored and contains five full length dialogue programs: I'm Stuck, Christmas List, It Doesn't Pay To Be Stubborn, Dummy Conducts Children's Lesson, and Appearances Deceitful.

While this book series has been out of print for many years, I had four signed copies of book #16 which were awarded one copy each to the first four (4) people who emailed me after reading this post. Winners: Ron Havens (KY), Jim Burke MS), Joshua Minetree (MD), and Maj. Wes Green (IL).
But this give-away continues with unusual and heartwarming twists - read on.
Abhijeet Deshpande (India) was just out of the winner's group by coming in #5. Along with Abhijeet's entry was a request "If I win this item, I would like to gift it to my guide in ventfigure making from USA, Mr. Ken Souza. He helps me a lot in figuremaking, he provided me many books, tons of information and materials. So I want to thank him by giving this item as a gift in this Christmas season."
I would gladly have awarded a 5th copy of the book to fulfill Abhijeet's request, but unfortunately, four copies was all I had. However, almost at the same time I received the following email from winner Jim Burke: "I have checked and (found I) already have a copy of this book. Could you send this one to the person who came in number 5 with my desires that this person have a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS!"
Amazing coincidence? Maybe. I prefer to think of it as the Spirit of Christmas actively at work with this double "pay it forward". But wait, that's not the end of the story!
Learning of the above incident, Wes Green sent me the following:

"Clinton, I was blessed to see that Abhijeet Deshpande had indeed been accommodated for this gift. I was especially interested in this copy as it was signed by the author. I feel that something has greater value when it is personalized. It says the you were known by the author personally. I know that experience in my Bible's author. I celebrate His Birth and Life thru my own.

"I would like to share this book with a beginner who is still learning about ventriloquism and Clinton Detweiler. I'm putting a package together of other treasures from my wife's collection to pass on to my friend and am thrilled to add this to it. I look forward to meeting this author and creator one day. If not before Heaven, then I'll look for you in Glory where we'll both be known by the Author and Creator of our Faith. Blessings, Wes
There will be an extra bright smile on my face when I put these gifts into the mail, Saturday morning. The gifts that keep on giving! And I was blessed to share the experience and now share the story with you - what an honor! Merry Christmas, everyone! Clinton

Free Gifts

Question: How long will you be giving away the free gifts? This is fun!
* * * * *
Answer: My plan is to offer the free gifts through the end of December. It's been fun for me as well. Keeps me in the spirit of the Christmas season!

Greetings from blog visitors

Thank you for YOUR Christmas and seasonal greetings for posts this week - all those that were published on this blog and the many others that came privately by email and letter. We appreciate your friendship and encouragement!

From Neale Bacon: “Horton Hogg and I want to wish everyone a wonderful holiday season, and a our Christmas wish for you is that your calendar fills up with shows. We look forward to seeing our friends at Venthaven again in July”


Christmas Treat on Leno tonight

This is non-vent, but still worthy of your consideration if you'd like to experience an extra blessing in keeping with the season. Our niece, Kristine Detweiler, lives in Uganda where she works with the amazing kids of the African Children's Choirs. She just sent us the following:

Hi everyone, Just wanted to let you all know the African Children's Choir have been confirmed to sing on The Jay Leno Show, Wednesday the 23rd of December. This is Jay's new primetime talk show that airs on NBC at 10pm/9central. We will be the musical guests singing a Christmas medley with our African drums. Best, Kristine

Reader Greetings:

Did you miss Terry Fator: Live From Las Vegas?
Catch the re-broadcast on CMT:
Saturday, 12/26 - 1pm-2pm est/pst - 6pm-7pm est/pst
Sunday, 12/27 - 10:45pm-11:45pm est/pst
Thank you again for supporting Terry.
Here's wishing a Happy Holiday season to you and yours.
Peace & Love from our family to yours
Cousin Joey the mouse, Baby the love bird, June & Bob Abdou

Neon Lim,
(With his cast of characters
and recently purchased
Maher Course.)

"Clinton, here is a Christmas vent photo with one of your creations is beside one of my creations. I'll leave it to you to decide which one is which! :-) Merry Christmas," Allen Fuller

Teresa Shieh requested a "look-alike" figure as a gift for her boy friend, Kerry Perloff.


Bonus Freebies!

In the spirit of the season these were a couple bonus give-aways. Two books by Craig Lovik that did not sell on eBay this past week. Rather than relist them or return them to inventory, I have given them away, one each, to the first two people who responded to this post when initially published. First respondent: Joshua Minetree.
Second respondent: Warren Lawson .
Plus two other FRAZZLED FAIRY TALES. Mixed up comedy ventriloquist dialogues where the conversation goes from funny to downright hilarious. You’ve never heard the tales told in this manner before! For your younger audiences. By Craig Lovik.

CLASSIC VENTRILOQUIST NONSENSE for the younger children who will squeal with delight when they hear the original comic twists given to their favorite stories as told by the ventriloquist puppet! By Craig Lovik. Cinderella and the Beanstalk; Sleeping Beauty; The Underwater Years; and 200 Years In The Fourth Grade.
(If you would like to purchase a copy of either book, I have more in stock. $5.00 each PP)
"Charlene" with Melissa Nichols

This note from Phil Nichols regarding the figure in the above image: "Melissa needed a smaller version of Charlene since the original was too heavy for her. Here is a juro Mortimer I converted and reshaped the face with Apoxy sculpt and wood filler. I used headstick, eyes, hands, and 2T body form from Braylu to build her body. She turned out really well and Melissa loves her."

The image below is "Charlie, the wedding crasher", also by Phil Nichols.

Christmas at Mt. Hawley Country Club.
Photo right, L-R: Santa, Carl Bopp, and Doc Lowery with Clyde the Camel. Doc and Clyde kept the kids entertained until they could see Santa. Sidney the monkey meets Santa (below).

"Mr. Clinton, Thank you so much for these 3 wonderful boys' makeovers. Merry Christmas,"

Lori Schnell


We received a surprise package a couple days ago from Allen Fuller. It contained a "kissing Santa" that he handcrafted for us using needlepoint and plastic canvass. Exquisite. Squeeze little Santa's cheeks and he opens his mouth to present the holder with a Hershey's chocolate kiss! Very clever.
Now I know this piece is intended as a Christmas ornament, but in the hands of any ventriloquist it becomes a mini-puppet - just squeeze his cheeks to open and close his mouth! "Ho, Ho, Ho! Merry Christmas!" Love it!

From Wilma Swartz: Here's some pictures of my Christmas show for all the heart transplant recipients and their medical team. My 6' ostrich, Sandy Twinkletoes, sang with The Sunshine Boys, a barbershop quartet that became a barbershop quintet. Huffenpuff the Dragon tried to convince the audience he was Rudolph with antlers and a blinking red nose until I got him to admit he was Rudolph's replacement since Rudolph was in Judge Judy's courtroom answering the charges for running Grandma over. Croc The Crocodile sung "A'' I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth. Cinnamon Stick sang a hymn to several HIMS. Even though this gig was a freebie, I got more wealth out of it than anyone could imagine. I even told the audience how ventriloquism and heart transplants have in similarity with Paul Winchell but I was extremely careful never to use the "D" word during this part because I didn't want anyone to think I was implying they were a "D".


We have a winner!

This original Ventoon by David Miller was first published on the December pages of the 1978 Ventriloquist Calendar published for members of the NAAV (North American Association of Ventriloquists). The winner of this mounted page, "Perfect Fit", under glass in an 8x10 frame (photo right) was Geoffrey Moran, Australia.
Geoffrey was the required first person to respond to this post although four others were within two minutes. Thankfully, the computer clock can tell me to the second when each email arrives!

Greetings From Blog Visitors:

From Joe Overfelt: "Clinton, I wanted to send these photos. 'Andy' is a special friend now because he travels to not only my children's events but to all of my concerts just in case I get to coughing during these cold months. I can pull him out and He can finish my program instead of me just talking. This picture is us outside my house in Roanoke, Virginia where we got our first snow of the year measuring 16 - 20 inches, depending where you measure. I also included a few snow pictures for your pleasure. And thanks for the stickers. They are on the outside of Andy's case. Also thanks for the great buys on ebay. I have gotten 6 books so far and I love them." Joe Overfelt Ministries

Christmas Stocking

From Jeff Scott: I used the talking Christmas Stocking at a nursing home earlier this month and they loved him. He speaks with a Spanish accent and is named Leotardo (Spanish for stocking). He tells the tragic tale of becoming a single in a dryer accident but that God worked it out so that he has the best job ever-- work for a month and have 11 months of vacation each year!
The sad thing about Leotardo is that he is seasonal. It got me to thinking about an idea for you or Kevin. What if you could build a basic face, either round or square, that has the moving mouth and maybe blinkers. That basic face would be the center that could be popped out of several seasonal novelty shells (heart, shamrock, kite, apple, pumpkin, etc. - whatever seasonal symbols that seem appropriate). The shells could even be made from thin plywood and painted. It would be inexpensive and give a variety of novelty bits through the year by just changing the shell that fits around the basic face. A second set of cut outs to go with the basic face might be animals (rabbit, turtle, etc). Just an idea...
* * * * *
From Clinton: I can imagine what you suggest and it's a great idea. It would work. I'll pass your suggestion on to Kevin.

From Ron Havens: "Here's a picture of me and Calvin at a 'Dinner with Santa' event at my church in 2006 and at our local town's Christmas parade. I had only been doing ventriloquism about 5 months when these were taken. In those days it was just him and me. We were constant companions. Although I've added quite a few more characters to my vent troupe since then, Calvin will always hold fond memories 'cause he was the first."

From Keith Edward Summers: "I took a few shots of Mort and I and complied them into a photoshop holiday card. We have been having a good time working up a skit. Happy Holidays."


Holiday Novelty Puppets

This is an invitation for you to check out my #4 Photo Album which currently leads off with a few of the novelty puppets I created for the holiday season: http://maherphotos4.blogspot.com/ .
As you know, I also invited visitors to this blog to send me their holiday photos. You will see these photos beginning tomorrow and running through Christmas Eve.
A couple of my collection Give-Aways are also scheduled during this photo presentation.
Clinton (aka Mr. D.)


Just toothpicks...

I began building objects and structures with toothpicks when I was in the 5th grade. I thought I had accomplished an impressive feat when in 1957 I built a toothpick suspension bridge from 5,000 toothpicks. Even the Diamond Company was impressed - they published the story, with a photo, in their trade magazine. But records are simply seen as a challenge to many people, including those who decide on a toothpick construction career. And in that field of endeavor, Stan Munro, must certainly rule supreme!

Stan Muro has constructed a miniature city made out of millions of toothpicks! It took 38 year old Munro 6 years to build his toothpick city. (You see a portion of it in the upper photo.) He used 6 million toothpicks and 170 litres of glue. He can spend up to 6 months to create a building and each of his creations is built to 1:164 scale. He works at the Museum of Science and Technology in Syracuse , New York ( USA ).
I'm humbled! I'll stick to puppet making, but I can honestly tell you that for me, it all started with toothpicks!


We have a winner!

Strike up a conversation with this big MATCH PUPPET! You can read more details about the puppet on my post for 12/10 Click Here .

He was the only one left in my collection and was awarded FREE to Naomi Slozat (PA) the required 12th respondent to this post. Congratulations Naomi!
Next free give-away: Monday 12/21.


By William Andersen

The following is a brief excerpt from the routine by the same name in the book, Safety Dialogues, now on my 99 cent eBay auction listings for this week. Click HERE to see the full list.

V: Well, what is hot today?
F: Fire is hot!
V: I know that. Do you want to talk about fire?
F: Sure. Either fire or girls.
V: Let's talk about fire. What do you know about fire?
F: Enough to stay away from it. I used to be a tree, you know.
V: Getting in a fire could be bad for you. But it is also bad for others, too.
F: I wooden know about that.
V: It is important to know about fires and fire safety.
F: Like what?
V: We should learn two things about fires. One is how to prevent fires, and the other is what to do if you are ever in a fire.
F: Prevention or burn.
V: Prevention is right but you need not burn in a fire if you know what to do.
F: How can we prevent a fire?
V: I'm glad you asked. Are you ready?
F: Fire away!

The routine continues to discuss reasons not to smoke, proper heaters for the home, open flames such as candles and fireplaces, electrical outlets and cords, having a fire safety plan and more. All with a touch of humor; entertainment with strong message.


Shop talk

Santa's helper, busy at work...it's
that time of the year again!