In the first part of this article (see Epoxy Glass Ventriloquist Dummies Part 1) we talked about what Epoxy Glass is, its advantages/disadvantages and the when and why it might be used in making a ventriloquist dummy. And as I had mentioned, I have built a number of Epoxy Glass figures over the years, and that I was going to show you a few of the projects that I particularly enjoyed being involved with.
In Part 1 of this article I showed you Randy Malick’s ‘way cool’ Leprechaun figure. In Part 2 I showed you a ‘classic’ nosey boy figure (originally a Frank Marshall creation). If you have not seen these yet, please go back to ‘Epoxy Glass Ventriloquist Dummies ‘Part 1‘ or ‘Part 2“and check them out. In this part I will show you my favorite project that I did in Epoxy Glass.
Greg Claassen's Pearl
This particular project was a collaboration with noted figure maker Greg Claassen, to make an ‘authorized’ replica of his way cool ‘Pearl’ figure. Greg’s ‘Pearl’ was made by none other than legendary figure maker, Robert McRay. Pearl is one of Robert’s famed ‘Bighead‘ figures, specially created just for Greg Claassen.
Robert McRay’s ‘Bighead‘ creations under normal circumstances are not ever to be duplicated, as they are intended to be, highly unique, one-of-a-kind, ‘functional art‘. For this reason, no molds are made during the time of their creation, typically. Greg, however, had special circumstances and therefore made a special request to Robert.
Greg is a full time professional performer who does a LOT of traveling with his figures and so he was very concerned that his beyond precious, one-of-a-kind, work of art, ‘Pearl’, might get damaged, stolen or possibly destroyed. So Greg requested permission to make an authorized copy of Pearl. Robert graciously agreed to allow it in this case. (If you didn’t already know, Robert is one of the ‘good guys’ in our industry.)
So the first step was to take a mold off of the original McRay creation and create a high quality casting of the head. Greg entrusted me with that difficult task. How does one do that without hurting the original masterpiece? ‘Very carefully!‘ Ha! Here is a pic of the original Pearl and a few pics of Pearl’s head shortly after I received it:
I was quite honored that Greg trusted me with his one-of-kind, irreplaceable, ‘functional art’, the irrepressible ‘Pearl’! I was doubly honored to be able to handle one of ‘Robert McRay’s phenomenal creations up close and to see first-hand the fabulously unique mechanisms inside the head.
Due to their rarity, I am pretty sure that there are very few vents that get to handle a ‘McRay’ Bighead figure, let alone get to see the mechanical wonders on the inside of the head and unique controls. I have to admit, I was quite thrilled to say the least, to have this experience. Here are a few pics of the replica’s progress:
All details were perfectly captured by the quality mold taken from the original figure (I had been doing mold making and casting for over 40 years, but was still nervous about doing this without doing any damage), including separate upper teeth, lower jaw with full set of teeth and tongue, upper lip, and reproduced in the highest quality, light-weight epoxy fiberglass.
All of this was done without removing any of these parts or doing any harm to the original priceless head. This was quite a feat! But not one detail was missed! I sent the cast head back to Greg to start on the mechanizing of the figure and he then sent it back to me for painting.
I then very carefully hand-painted the Pearl replica, and I tried very hard to capture the essence of the original, down to the sparkles in the cheek blush and eyelids. I also hand painted the iris of the eyes, which was kind of fun.
Then finally, this high quality replica was superbly mechanized by Greg Claassen himself. If you aren’t already aware, Greg is a legendary figure maker in his own right, making what many believe are the finest McElroy replicas that have ever been created. Here are a few photos of the finished Pearl replica:
Again, I have to say I felt very honored to have had the privilege of taking part in this unique project of making an ‘authorized’ replica of one of the outstanding ‘Robert McRay‘ Bighead figures.
Shortly after this project, I had the grand privilege of sharing my high-end Epoxy Glass techniques with Greg Claassen (as well as Tyler Ellis). It was quite the honor to be able to assist in this way. Both gentleman’s work are pretty much legendary and I of course have to say that I have learned a LOT from them as well over the years. They are both top notch gentlemen and undeniably two of the ‘good guys’ in our trade.
Here is one last photo of ‘Pearl’ with her owner, Greg Claassen himself. I think the smile on his face says it all.