|After practicing the art of the ventriloquism,
the ventriloquist student will no doubt begin to consider seriously the
desirability of burdening himself with a family—a ventriloquial
family—with the idea of either purchasing outright what he needs or of
making such figures for himself.
At the outset, however, I would state emphatically that unless you are
a natural mechanic and also something of an adept at wood carving you
would better wait until you can either purchase the figures required
or can pay for having the heads made by a professional wood carver.
Then the body must be made and dressed but this you can easily do
yourself at little cost.
The small knee figures can be obtained, head, body and all, from
dealers in magical goods, and larger ones from the latter, according to
the size and movements required; very little is saved by having the
heads made to order, and the result is not usually so satisfactory,
unless a carver can be found to whom this work is familiar.
Of course if you are handy enough with tools to make your own heads,
the saving is worthwhile, and I will now give you a few hints as to how
the work may be done.
First, of course, you must determine how large you wish the heads to
be. For exhibitions in drawing-rooms and small halls, a head measuring
four inches from the top of the forehead to the chin and three inches
from one side of the face to the other, with a depth—that is, from back
of the head to the tip of the nose—of four and one-half inches, is a
good size. For large halls and theatres the dimensions should be at
least six inches from the forehead to the chin and four inches from one
side of the face to the other, with a depth of five inches. In the case
of the smaller head the neck should be about one and one-half inches
long, and for the larger head two inches long. It should be understood
that these heads are intended for what are usually called knee
figures—the Irish and Colored boys. For larger figures to sit or stand,
the dimensions should be slightly larger than those given for the
larger head described.
In making such heads, the wood carver usually begins by getting out
four pieces of soft pine, two of which (for the face and back of the
head) are a trifle wider than the dimensions given from one cheek to
the other and thick enough to allow the carving out of the features,
including the nose.