Once again our good friend and regular contributor Bob Abdou has sent in some helpful information to share with you.
Whenever I am either performing or watching a ventriloquist perform, I am always focused on position of either the dummy or the performer, including myself. That is where my attention goes the first few minutes of an act.
One common distraction I always see is the arms of the puppet/dummy. If the dummy has short arms and is sitting on a performing table, the fingers touch the table causing the arm to bend in an unnatural way and that can cause an unnatural position. A few months ago, I performed with a new dummy at a show and that is what happened to me. This new dummy had short arms and it kept going in a weird position all during the act, I did not like that so I did something about it. The following is a description of fixing a short arm of a dummy/puppet.
This is the picture of Georgie, a new act. I did not realize his short arms would cause me a distraction for me and my audience.
That week went into action: I rolled up the sleeve and cut just below the elbow and detached the hand to the stuffing. the wrist was too long so I cut off about 1 inch of the wrist, this would later help in the new position
I got an “L” shaped tube sock, stuffed it and now connected it to the upper arm and wrist, it now has a natural elbow bend so it will lay on the lap when performing.
I used fabric tape and hot glue for adhesive.
This is now the completed fixed right arm, ready to roll down the sleeve
I did not want to this new arm to just lay on the lap of the dummy, so I attached a magnet to the palm (the audience will NEVER see the magnet) and on the thigh (under the pants) so now when I position the dummy on the performing table, the magnet now connects & disconnects without a worry
You can now see the difference between the right arm with the new elbow and the short left arm
The left arm has now been repaired and matches the right arm. Project complete and Georgie is ready for a show
Some might think it is against the rules or disrespectful toward the maker to redesign or makeover from what was once made. I feel the maker wants to see their creations performing on stage and not being sold a few months later because it was not a good fit. A dummy/puppet is a prop and an investment. With some minor makeover, I now can perform without any distraction, the audience will be happy, I will be happy and the maker of my dummy is happy, Everybody wins.
Thanks, Bob for sharing your insight.
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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 2012 by Dan Willinger
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Good thinking, Bob. Fantastic work!
Good way, Bob. A simple idea is to straighten out a coat hanger wire, cut it off about the length of the arm, insert through about the wrist and straight all the way up to about the shoulder, then bend the wire as desired. Do this for the other arm too.
Hey Lee, your comment is good also for soft puppets but it does not fix the short arm dilemma. I made the short arm longer by attaching an “L” shape tube sock, this made the arm longer and gave me a natural elbow bend. If a dummy has a short arm and has a wire through it, this could create more problems because if the fingers are on the table, the wire through the arm will force the arm to raise and will give the shoulder a funny look.
I was afraid of that–that there would be problems. I can see it now, your doing a show and pushing down that arm, or shoulder. Your idea works.
Great advice and the magnet tip is just a great tip to use period.
That REally makes the arms look great.
Thank You for Sharing.