How to Build a Ventriloquist Dummy's Head

Written by sue teresa tan
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Building ventriloquist dummies is a hobby for puppet enthusiasts. There are some who cast their own dummies but would find sculpting expensive and time consuming. To cater to those who want to build their own but do not have time to cast and sculpt ventriloquist dummies, there are kits sold online for different dummy parts. However, even with these available, putting the parts together can prove to be confusing and complicated. Do not be discouraged, it takes practice to make a professional dummy head. Below are the steps you need to follow in building a ventriloquist dummy's head.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

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Things you need

  • Head casting kit
  • Headstick holder
  • Pro Vent cast eyeballs kit
  • Paper mache
  • Sliding door roller assembly B-551
  • Axle
  • 0.18-gauge copper wire
  • Self-hardening clay
  • Craft knife
  • Screw eyes
  • Soft cloth
  • Sandpaper
  • Nylon cord
  • Paint

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  1. 1

    Clean and sand the head cast. Clean the parts thoroughly inside and out using a soft cloth. When sanding, do not apply too much pressure as this may deform the shape of the head.

  2. 2

    Attach the headstick to the head. If your headstick does not fit into the hole, add layers of paper mache onto the headstick until it is snugly in place on the hole. Take care that you do not plug up the string holes on the lever.

  3. 3

    Insert the long brass rod through the hole on one side of the jaw to the other. Set the tube onto the jaw using self-hardening clay. The brass rod comes with the head casting kit.

  4. 4

    Replace the obliterated tab on the right part of the jaw by putting one on the left. Using self-hardening synthetic clay, make a replica of the right tab.

  5. 5

    Insert screw eyes on the upper and lower part of the left jaw. Insert the upper left screw eye onto the tab you just made and the other one directly under it. Hold them in place with self-hardening clay.

  6. 6

    Assemble the Pro Vent cast eyeball kit by following the instructions that come with the package.

  7. 7

    Assemble the axle and the pulley. Insert the pulley into an axle rod made of 0.25-inch dowel. Drill holes on the axle on both sides of the wheel. Loop a 0.18-gauge copper wire on one hole over the pulley onto the other hole.

  8. 8

    Install the pulley into the neck by using self-hardening clay to hold the axle in place. Check whether its position is aligned with the jaw by putting the jaw temporarily on its pivot, then mark the spot where you are installing the pulley.

  9. 9

    Paint the head, inner mouth, the lips and the eye rims.

  10. 10

    Thread a nylon cord through the headstick and the jaw. Attach the cord temporarily onto the jaw lever that is a part of the headstick. Thread it through the hole for the neck-control string, which is also on the headstick. Starting from the back, string it through the pulley through the top, under the copper wire, then through the bottom screw eye on the left part of the jaw. Knot the cord.

  11. 11

    Insert two additional tubes onto the axle that protrudes on both sides of the jaw. These tubes also come with the head casting kit.

  12. 12

    Set the jaw onto the head by resting in the holes drilled into the head to receive them. Make adjustments to ensure that the mouth can open and shut.

  13. 13

    Attach the eyes into the head.

  14. 14

    Close the dummy head by mounting the trapdoor at the back.

Tips and warnings

  • Casting kits for ventriloquist dummies come with instructions on how to install them into the head.
  • This project can be very expensive, but it is a worthwhile investment if you are a serious ventriloquist.

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