The Making of Basset Hound Ted Part I

tom dahl and steve hurst
Tom Dahl, “Charlie Dawg” and Steve Hurst

Tom Dahl of Florida had been thinking about a Basset Hound puppet a few years ago. At the 2010 ConVENTion, Tom met my partner Steve and “Charlie Dawg”.

As Tom puts it, “I thought Charlie was terrific.” At this point, Tom decided to move forward with his idea for a Basset Hound puppet.

He had previously had Brant Gilmer make a boy figure for him so he contacted Brant. He then started working with Alex Howell on drawings for the Basset Hound.

Then there were some cancellations on Brant’s schedule, and he was able to start the dog puppet carving around November 2011.

Tom just received “Ted” a few weeks ago. He was nice enough to share with us pictures of the process.

The making of Ted: A Brant Gilmer and Alex Howell creation

Alex Howell, famed illustrator and friend to many vents, did the initial drawings. Goal was for a friendly Basset Hound figure, with very BIG eyes. Desired animations were large flapping ears, moving eyebrows, self centering eyes, and moving mouth.

Early on it was decided to go for a “dog body” rather than the human type form some follow.


First full color drawing. Note the collar details, and how the head would fit onto the body. What’s amazing is that this drawing became the template for the final figure.




With Alex Howell drawings completed, the project then moved to famed vent maker Brant Gilmer. Brant used Alex’s drawings as the template for making the head, and the frame for the body.


The large size dog “snout” required many layers of bass wood. These pictures were taken by Brant in his workshop area.


Brant was doing the carving, and also doing all the mechanics. His mechanics are truly smooth as silk, and really set the standard for great vent figures.


Brant does a masterful job in carving the head, closely following the template of Alex’s drawings.


For this Basset Hound, Brant is using the largest size eyes possible for this head shape.


To be continued tomorrow……




Dan Willinger 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. Because of his love for the art of ventriloquism, Mr. Willinger created the website Ventriloquist Central. For more information about the website, go to:

Copyright 2012 by Dan Willinger

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One Response to The Making of Basset Hound Ted Part I

  1. P. Grecian says:

    Fascinating. I can hardly wait for the next installment!

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