"Making friends..."

Reader Comments: I started woodcarving the same year that Smithsonian magazine ran their well-known Charley McCarthy issue, which featured that beautiful article about conVENTion. The article mentions that soft figures are steadily gaining in popularity, and that modern hard figures are rarely made of wood. I took that article as a personal challenge. I learned to do vent from a booklet (Ventriloquism A to Z) that I bought from you, while I was carving my first figure. Since that time I have made about a dozen figures, most of them of wood. I have used pine, and now use basswood, but once I carved a Benjamin Franklin figure out of maple. (I told the owner that he probably has the only vent dummy ever made that can stop a bullet). My children always tell me that when I was a kid and my mother told me to make friends, I shouldn't have taken her so literally. Scott Bryte
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From Clinton: Okay, now that you brought it up, today I will give away a copy of Ventriloquism A-V (a great book!), and tomorrow I'll give away a framed cover of the Smithsonian magazine you refer to - the issue that had Charlie McCarthy on the cover. Beautiful! Your kids are very insightful as there is more than one way to "make friends"! Thanks for the smile!

1 comment:

  1. I really like black walnut, so much so in 1999 put out 500 black walnut trees on 50 acres, spaced about 30 steps apart. The trees put on bark third year and started bearing sixth year. I had to put fence wire around them to protect from buck rubs. All trees are over my head now. I made figure Kriket from a standing dead oak, cured 20 years, took chainsaw and sawed down and took a good log to make figure head, hands and feet, hollowed out to lessen weight to around 8 pounds. I quit the art back in 1965 but did this in 2003 for grandchildren, and put on modern media about all I remember on the art. I had gone through a period of about 10 years doing serious bass fishing and making my own wood lures, thereafter into archery for about same period making my own wood handles, and learned how important it is to have a cambium centered piece. After many attempts of handle snapping when gripped figured out that the piece was not cambium centered.

    Back when I performed vent owned a boy and girl Frank Marshall figures and some kids on the set of a tv show I had pulled them off onto the floor and cracked both heads, and guess where they cracked, right at the juncture where smaller basswood blocks were glued together. So, when I made Kriket he had to be cambium centered. I have dropped the head couple of times and he will bounce. I could hit a homerun with him, and truly believe wood baseball bats would hold up if the company that makes them used cammbium centered materials.

    As great as were Frank Marshall, Revello Petee, their contemporaries and predecessors, all figures have this fatal flaw. If you keep making wood figures please give a large single wood block cambium centered a try. You do very good work.

    "Work the center of the stick, the heart of the wood, so that force be channeled around the grain as it should." Kriket