The Whittling Fool
Ernie's been carving most of his life, starting out with a rusty scout knife as a teenager. It took a back seat to other creative endeavors at times, such as co-creating 20 of the short animated films for the first three seasons on Sesame Street, making short satirical films in the 70s, like Porklips Now and Hardware Wars, now cult classics, and working behind the scenes in movie post productions on a long list of Hollywood features.
When he retired from the from the Movie Biz, he came back to whittling. After writing 11 unproduced screenplays, he felt he could say more with a pocket knife and a stick. In 1999, he build The Mechalodeon, a travelling gallery of mechanically animated carved caricatures. This was featured on such TV shows as Bay Area Backroads, Rare Visions, and Weird Wheels.
The Crankabout Mechanical Theater is the latest incarnation of that idea. It's an entirely human powered pedal truck made from junk bicycle parts and filled with hand carved mechanical automata. The music comes from a hand cranked street organ.
He also creates wooden marionettes and rod puppets, and particularly likes to do custom wedding cake toppers in the likeness of the bride and groom.