This is a conversation that I thought was very interesting. I was asked if a duplicarved head was considered hand carved. Well……I guess it all depends on where you end the duplicarved process.
You see with the duplicate carving machine if you change out the blades progressively to the finest detailed blades, it will carve a perfect copy and then you can not call the product hand carved as it was all done with machine.
Now when we talk about ventriloquist figures everyone thinks about the golden age makers. We know that Marshall had 14 duplicarver heads that he used to create his many characters. But Frank was smart. He did not have any of the masters in his shop nor did he have the machine there.
He would rough out a head and then do all the finish carving by hand. This did in fact save him a monumental amount of time when it came to production. Frank was able to say hand carved because he did in fact do this carving.
My conversations with Bob Isaacson, who spent much time at Frank’s shop, has confirmed the fact that he never saw the master heads or the duplicarver.
Ken Spencer certainly used a dupicarver as most of his figures all look alike. He really didn’t take a lot of time to change the look of his faces. They were machined to the point that all they needed was sanding. These are considered hand carved today but in reality……
Today Conrad Hartz is still carving a basswood ventriloquist figure totally by hand. Mallet and chisels do all the work. He is popping them out much more quickly since his retirement and it is always a treat to see his newest character. I love that he uses the look of the Marshall figures.
Also Brant Gilmer, Pastor Scott Bryte, James Manelli and Austin Phillips are carving figures totally from scratch. So there is a small throw back to the old school alive and well today.
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Ventriloquist Central is the brainchild of Dan Willinger and Steve Hurst. Dan is a ventriloquism enthusiast and ventriloquist figure collector. He has been collecting for over 25 years. He created the Ventriloquist Central Collection. It now has over 100 ventriloquist figures and over 50 of them are Frank Marshall figures. Steve is a ventriloquist as well as builder of ventriloquist figures. He also has a background in sales, marketing, building websites and computers. Because they both love the art of ventriloquism, the website Ventriloquist Central was born. For more information about the website, go to: http://www.ventriloquistcentral.com
Copyright 2014 by Dan Willinger and Steve Hurst
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