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, August 18, 2007

"McElroy Magic" by Greg Claassen

My copy of Greg Claassen's new book, "McElroy Magic, Building a Replica" arrived in the mail yesterday.



Greg has written a detailed manual of instruction on how to build your own replica of a ventriloquist figure in the style and design of the McElroy brothers.

McElroy figures have a dedicated number of admirers and afficianados. They gather together on The McElroy Brothers Fan Club Yahoo discussion group.

The McElroys didn't make that many figures, and way too many now languish in private collections hidden away from the public. The Vent Haven museum in Ft. Mitchell, KY has several on display. Very few, if any, ventriloquists still perform with original McElroy figures. If you want one, you have to pay a lot of money for an original or a lot of money for a replica. Few figure builders make them, however, and the labor-intensive nature of such a project puts the price way up there. But you can make your own, and that's what this book is about.

Greg's book tells how he first became interested in ventriloquism, figure making and McElroy figures in particular. He has made six replicas so far. The book conveys to figure builders what Greg learned over the years about the mechanical marvels that are McElroys and how to build and install them.

You won't learn how to sculpt, paint, dress, or wig a ventriloquist figure in this book. You are expected to already understand those parts of the craft. This book is directed specifically at the mechanics and controls. It inludes detailed explanations of each animation along with precise diagrams and measurements. You learn what tools and materials you need for the project.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in ventriloquist figure building, even if you never plan to make a McElroy replica. You learn lots of things about tools, procedures, mechanics, etc., that you can use in other projects. Besides, it's just plain fun to read.

This book is available directly from Greg. His email address is ventgregc [at] gmail [dot] com. (Convert the [at] and [dot] tokens to their corresponding symbols in your mail program.)

You can also buy the book online from Mike Brose's Puppets and Props website.

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