Chiseling Dummies Is a One-Man Industry.


“Daddy” of most stage dummies, including impish Charlie McCarthy, is Frank Marshall of Chicago. For twenty years he has been carving blockheads and marionettes for the theatrical trade; skilled fingers, a tool chest full of assorted chisels, a bandsaw and paintbrush his principal tools. The dummy starts as four slabs of wood glued into a block, with paper glued in the center so that the head can be split apart and hollowed out. Simplest of dummies have only a movable chin, but Mr. Marshall will, if you like, install eyes that roll from side to side, and a winking eyelid; or a soft leather upper lip that curls upward in a smile revealing a nice set of teeth. The mouth can be manipulated by a remote-control air bulb. In the circle is a split head, the wobbling chin sawed out, ready for installation of mechanism. Below, touching up eyebrows and complexion with special dull-finish paint containing pumice. Right, Mr. Marshall has a farewell chat with one of his “babies”


One method is to mix up a batch of fairly thick plaster of Paris and dab it over the clay, gradually building it up into a thick mold. Be sure that the plaster reaches every part of the surface and that it contains no air pockets. A method that requires more plaster is to use a thin mix, pour it into a box of suitable size, and press the clay face part way into it. Again, avoid air pockets.


Allow the plaster to set and dry for several hours before attempting to remove the model from the half mold. If any bits of clay should stick to the mold when the model is lifted out, remove them carefully.


August 1938 - Poplar Mechanix


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