From Block to Blockhead in Two Days’ Time


There’s no such thing as mass production in the dummy-making business. One day your friend Charlie McCarthy was a chunk of wood. Next afternoon he was Charlie McCarthy, ready to talk if someone would think out loud for hint. In two days a block becomes a blockhead, without benefit of factory methods. Every dummy is made to order, chiseled to fit the personality desired by the ventriloquist; only one machine operation takes place, the slitting of the dummy’s chattering chin by a handsaw. The rest is hand work. Above, you see a dummy’s brain: the finger controls which manipulate chin and eyeballs. From top down around the page are the first stages in a dummy’s life a cube of basswood or buckeye; chiseling out the face contours; shaping the mouth; screwing the head together after installing “brains,” and sawing the chin.


August 1938 - Poplar Mechanix


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