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

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Working with a Turner figure

So, what has all this got to do with writing? Nothing. But I haven't been doing any writing that bears talking about. Except writing this blog. My friend Elsie says most writers' blogs are boring, anyway.
    The Turner figure that I showed last time has been waiting for an overhaul. I started to do that recently so I could take the dummy to the convention. It's what they call, in the vernacular, a real piece of work.
    I don't know a lot about Turner, the figure maker. Bill Demar's first professional figure was a Turner, and I've seen several of them over the years. I cannot say whether this one was ever overhauled, either, but whoever did the most recent work on it was clueless about figure making and fixing.
    It's carved out of pine. I guess that's okay, but it makes for a heavy head. It's no Michelangelo, either. The head is kind of square and flat in the back and the neck is way too thick in the front-to-back dimension. There's enough excess wood there to trim the neck and make the head rounder, which would make for a lighter head, but I don't like carving pine and would probably compromise whatever value it has to collectors. Not to mention cutting off a finger or two.
    (Why do people say, "not to mention" when they are about mention what they said they would not mention?)
Other criticisms:
    It was painted with glossy yellow house paint. I had to get John Parisi to strip the paint. I can't work with chemical paint stripper, and, short of sandblasting, I don't know how else to get that stuff off. John took it down to bare wood for me. That's when we learned we were working with pine.
    Most of the head was nailed or screwed together. The ears were screwed on. The eyes were nailed in place. The vertical sections of the head were held together with wood screws. Didn't they have glue in those days?
    And, oh, yeah, this one. For a jaw axle the figure had two finishing nails driven in through the sides of the head. It looks like there might have been a cabinet hinge in there at one time, so maybe the nails weren't Turner's idea.
    The hands and body are nice, but they're pine, too, and way too heavy.
    So, if you want a nice wood-carved figure to perform with, ask Conrad Hartz or Brant Gilmer to build you one.