Plastic Wood Casting for Ventriloquist Figures

I have to see if some of you figure builders out there can answer a question for me that I have been thinking about for a while. It has to do with the finish of a plastic wood casting when it comes out of the mold and the finish that the casting has.

When you look at a McElroy casting the plastic wood was pressed into the mold and then filled with lead shot and submerged in water over night to cure. When the casting came out it appears to be smooth as glass. I know that you can do filling and sanding after the casting comes out of the mold but the McElroys just seemed so perfect. Even the inside of the casting with the small shot marks is very smooth.

Finis Robinson also did his castings in plastic wood, the same product that the McElroys used and Finis’ casting are always very rough. The roughness is inside the casting as well.

Could the consistency of the plastic wood have made a difference? In other words could the brothers have possible mixed something in to create a finer consistency?

I myself have played around with plastic wood and found it always seems to be rough so how do you get a casting using a wood dough to be so smooth?

Just a wondering collector.

Please leave your thoughts and comments below.



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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6 Responses to Plastic Wood Casting for Ventriloquist Figures

  1. Curtis Jones says:

    I always thought the McElroys were made of Fiberglass…

    Wood dough has changed over the years from what i understand, so the product they used and what Finis used may be different.

    Process may also have a part to play here, I have seen several Finis head out of the mold, pictures only, but the do look rough.
    The head always looked like the mold was 2 parts, right down the center of the face.

    The lead shot and under water curing may also be the trick.
    if the layers were uniform, that may also lend itself to a better finished product.

    I am amazed with workmanship of any figure and the patience it takes to get it just right.

    Curtis Jones

  2. I know when (back in the dark ages) we were doing latex, that we could add a thinning agent to our base latex which gave it more of a smooth finish.

    You might also want to use “mold release” which keeps your base material from sticking to the mold and creating those inconsistancies. Steal you wifes can of “Pam” and experiment with that.


  3. Phil Nichols says:

    It’s the water cure probbaly combined with the pressure from the lead shot. When I make dentures out of dental acrylic sometimes I cure them in warm water for even finer surface, or I put them in a pressure pot with warm water. It makes it harder for the vapors from the plastics to escape as easily giving you finner escape bubbles and a glass like surface. It would be the same principal with the plastic wood as with the dental acrylic.

  4. Jacob Moore says:

    Brand name plastic wood works very well but I personally don’t like it because it has a very strong smell and I find it takes too long to dry and makes a huge mess, Elmer’s Wood Filler works just as well but it takes a thicker coating to make the head stable, as far as making it smooth I wear rubber gloves and constantly dip my index finger in a cup of water to make it smooth where it needs to be, the water keeps it from sticking to the glove, that might be how the McElroys did it, the water makes it take longer to dry so that should buy you enough time to make it as smooth as possible, it just takes a lot of patience and practice to make it smooth. I usually make the figure’s head out of wood filler first because it sands easy and it’s easy to fix any defects and then I make the mold after I finish with the wood filler and then make a final version out of fiberglass. It works great! Hope this helps :)

  5. Ray Guyll says:

    Hey Dan, let’s talk :)

  6. Jeremiah Burch says:

    what I believe I heard from a few people was that the Wood Putty know days is a totally different from what it use to be back then the product they use to call Wood Dough is no longer product so there for the wood putty know days all ruff and brackish is most likely not the stuff they had back then.

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