Perspectives of a Writer and Musician

Issues related to writing, publishing and playing jazz music: One man's muse.
by Al Stevens

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Location: Florida, United States

Monday, July 03, 2006

Body and Soul

Ventriloquist figure bodies are usually unremarkable. If you've seen one, you've seen most of them, and the many books about building ventriloquist dummies describe and illustrate the various ways you can make one. Except for the hands, an audience never sees the details of a body's construction anyway.

Uncle Sweeter's body is, if not unique, certainly atypical. Here's a look at it with the arms and legs attached. You can't tell from the picture, but his arms are attached in an usual location, his frame protrudes slightly at the belly giving him a pot belly, and his butt is about twice the depth of a standard figure's to support his rearward center of gravity.

To support his pot belly, I added a home-made pillow to the front of his body with the majority of the stuffing toward the lower half of the pillow. Depending on what trousers I find, his paunch might hang over his belt. Or, if he gets suspenders, his waistband might ride high on his gut.

The neck socket has a lining of felt to minimize friction on the neck's ball and thus to reduce paint wear.

Here you can see in profile how his arms are attached. Instead of hanging directly from the edges of the shoulder piece, thay are attached more toward the front. This placement supports Uncle Sweeter's stoop shouldered body. Also instead of hanging with each thumb directly forward as is usually done, his hands are turned with the backs of the hands slightly to the front. This exposes the details of his hands, veins, wedding band, etc., and it's more how I'd expect him to sit.

I'm off to cruise all the local thrift shops in search of clothes for the old guy. I know what I want, but I'll take what I can find. Uncle Sweeter is headed for the Vent Haven convention next week. He needs to be dressed appropriately for his professional debut.


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