Len Insull Ventriloquist Figure Bodies

Len Insull figures are a very popular style figure and are very well made but are different for sure from just about any other maker’s figures. Len was a master at the use of paper mache and I must tell you paper mache when made right is as hard as wood. During the Victorian era in our country there was a surge when furniture was being made with paper mache then painted and hand decorated.

Len Insull bodies were cast in paper mache and then had a wooden bottom. They were very sturdy and sit easily on their own. Insull created his figures in a few different sizes ranging from 18″ to 46″. All of them had bodies of the same design done in paper mache.

The arms were done in muslin fabric which were then stuffed with cotton and glued shut. That’s right he glued them. No sewing for Len Insull. The hands were then glued to one end and then the top of the arm was glued to the shoulder. Believe it or not they seemed to stand the test of time. I have had to re glue a couple of the Insull’s I have had over the years but for the most part they have all been just fine.

I have included pictures of an original body hands and feet for you all to see.















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: http://www.ventriloquistcentral.com

Copyright 2009 by Dan Willinger

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This entry was posted in Ventriloquism/Ventriloquist, Ventriloquist Central, Ventriloquist Figure (Dummy) Makers, Ventriloquist Figure Building, Ventriloquist Figures. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Len Insull Ventriloquist Figure Bodies

  1. LeeDean says:

    Davedport figure I had got in 1954 from Berger newspaper tearings used in arms and legs.

  2. Philip Grecian says:

    Interesting, Dan…and enlightening as well. Did he build up his layers on a form or did he press the papier mache into a mold?
    I’m guessing, then, that he made the body in two parts and glued them together.
    I have recently built a body for my grumpy old man character using a papier mache technique over a form made out of a huge plastic laundry detergent container, cut and formed a bit, with a wooden “seat” to provide enough weight to keep him sitting up. Instead of wheat paste, though, I’ve used acrylic medium and, for the final layer(s), I’ve substituted muslin strips for the newspaper strips.

    I have a “Jerry” I’ve used for the last fifty years with a considerably altered face. Recently, using the original cardboard body as a pattern, I’ve scaled the body up a bit, using posterboard and then strengthened it with this same “acrylic mache.” Works like a charm.

    I can’t tell you how fascinating and instructive your blog articles have been. Thank you.


  3. I’ve also used paper mache, both to build figure bodies, and also to build heads. It takes a lot of patience, and just the right materials (different glues for the paper mache make a big difference), but they are definitely sturdy. Very cool pictures and article! Thank you!

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