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

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Da Bear

This fellow spent yesterday in my workshop. He came to me as a puppet intended to be operated from behind and below a puppet theater. His headstick, so to speak, extended out a slot in his back and reached down well below his butt. His owner prefers him to have traditional hard figure controls. He has moving head, jaw and blinkers.

The modification looked like it would be simple. Is anything ever simple?

I removed the head, which was held in place with a strong horizontal wire that ran from shoulder to shoulder and through a hole in the headstick. The headstick itself was a thin length of slotted 1x1 with levers at the extreme bottom.

I cut the headstick down, glued a PVC tube over it for a traditional headstick size, and installed new levers.

The client specified a right thumb jaw operation, and that was a challenge. The lever travel for the jaw is long; the builder did not gear down the ratio of lever-to-jaw travel. This calls for a long lever with the string attached to the end. But the body is narrow adjacent to where the lever is on the headstick, and my original lever installation kept hitting the walls when I manipulated the head.

The body is molded cardboard with fur glued on. I was able to open the slot in the back to a reasonable hand size with scissors.

The last problem was with the blinkers. The original return spring was way too strong. It took quite a pull to close those eyes with the new, shorter blinker lever. I gingerly cut out the spring, which was soldered in place, from through the mouth and installed a more appropriate one.

I neglected to take any before pictures of the old headstick. Here's the after picture.


Anonymous Anonymous said...


You sure do get interesting projects!

Gary K.

2:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


You think you could duplicate that bear for me for $50.00 (fifty dollars) just so you don't think it was a type-o. hahahaha. Just kidding. Looks Great! Margaret

7:42 PM  

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