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How We Design a New Ventriloquist Mask – Part 1

Creating a completely new design is a complex, time consuming exercise. It is a highly skilled process that requires patience and years of experience. It’s a combination of art and science….

The most recent new design we made was the Bojo Ventriloquist Mask. We decided that Boris Johnson, the British Prime Minister was a suitable figure on which to base a new caricature mask.

All the Kallini Puppets ventriloquist masks are developed in the same way. Below, I’ll describe the steps we went through to create Bojo.


Scoured the media...

Firstly, we scoured the media for photos, cartoons and video of the PM from various angles. Some with him smiling, some serious, and some with him looking silly, which helped.

We identified his facial attributes that we were going to exaggerate. The key for us is to aim to capture a likeness of our subject, not an exact match. After all, this is a caricature where the end product will be used as a comedy prop.

Getting messy with clay...

Oliver rolls up his sleeves and sets to work on a large block of sculpting clay. It’s a messy job, but he begins to take shape, the nose, the chin, the cheeks – all emerging from the dense lump. You can probably imagine how difficult it is to create a likeness of someone when you can only work on their face from the nose down.

We spent a lot of time tweaking his nose, not Oliver’s nose, Bojo’s clay nose. The cheeks, chin, jaw line all worked and reworked until we are happy with the shape. Then days are spent preparing the surface of the clay to be perfectly smooth where it needs to be.

It’s taken weeks to get the look we wanted in clay, and to prepare the surface for the next stage. Bojo is ready to be covered in gunk.


Getting funky with gunk

The gunk is actually layers of special liquid compounds we use to coat the clay. We leave each layer to cure before applying the next. Over the course of a week, we build up the layers to give us what we want – the primary mould. This is a copy of the clay design, but in reverse.

So what do we do next? Have a cup of tea and a biscuit or two…

Continue reading – Part 2

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