So this is from a few years ago, but I haven’t come across it until now. Doc Manning, one of the former props masters at Actors Theatre of Louisville, talks about some of their trickier props from a new show called Slasher! It’s a show filled with homemade bombs, actresses on meathooks and bathtubs full of blood, so you know it must have been a challenge for the props department.
Happy Friday, everyone! For those of us in the middle of holiday shows, whether Nutcracker, Christmas Carol, Tuna Christmas, or what have you, I hope it’s going well. I have some fun things from around the internet you can read:
Propnomicon has been doing some research into early shipping crates and packaging, and has shared some of the discoveries made. It may be surprising to see that manufacturers were shipping products in corrugated cardboard boxes rather than wooden crates back in the 1920s.
A short article of note tells how 3D printing is finding a home in Hollywood. Of course, regular readers of this blog already know this, but it is still interesting to see specifically how and where prop makers are using 3D printing technology.
La Bricoleuse has an interesting post up about the parasols her students made in her decorative arts class. Now I know many props masters do not consider parasols to be a “prop”; I’m sharing it because Playmakers’ props assistant (and good friend) Joncie Sarratt has a stunning diagram of the parasol she had to create for their production of Tempest.
Finally, Kamui Cosplay is poised to release The Book of Cosplay Armor Making with Worbla and Wonderflex. I haven’t seen the book yet, but if it is anything like her tutorials, it’s sure to be a very informative look at working with various low-temperature thermoplastics.
Back when I lived in New York City, I spent a couple seasons working at Spaeth Designs, building props for the holiday window displays at stores like Macy’s and Saks Fifth Avenue. They’ve produced a few videos this year showing some of the behind-the-scenes work that goes into these mini-productions. These windows are quite intense, with designers and department heads beginning work in February, and dozens of skilled craftspeople starting as early as July to get these ready by Thanksgiving.
First up is Saks Fifth Avenue, which went with a “Yeti” theme:
Next up is Lord and Taylor, who do variations on a Victorian Christmas every year:
The following is a Letter to the Editor which appeared in a 1947 issue of Life Magazine:
Concerning your recent article on armadillos (LIFE, Oct. 6), we feverishly urge any readers entertaining notions of employing such a creature for theatrical purposes that it is not a good thing.
One of our more romantic prop women assured us that for our Youngstown Players production of The Royal Family an armadillo would be very fetching lugged across the stage in the third act. The critter arrived and was snugly ensconced in an orange crate by the furnace. Several times it disappeared and was discovered perched among the coals…
On opening night he was whisked across the stage so quickly that it was impossible for the audience to divine whether what we had in the gaily colored birdcage was an armadillo or George Jean Nathan. Several in the audience asked where we got a seal so small. When we brightly informed them it was an armadillo and did they know what an armadillo was, they said no and they didn’t want to know. It looked, they said, vomitous. After the first performance, to our delight, it up and died…
James Priddy, Youngstown, Ohio.
Originally printed in Life, October 27, 1947, pg 22, 25.
David Neat, author of Model-Making: Materials and Methods, has a blog going with all sorts of model making techniques. Posts on painting, mold-making, working in scale, and more are described and shown with ample photographs.
I really like this illustrated chart of hand tools over at Popular Mechanics. The chart itself is good-looking enough to hang up in your shop, while the tools pictured on it give you a great idea of what your shop is missing.
Smooth-On has a ton of great videos over at their website showing how to mold and cast with many of their materials. If you haven’t checked them out yet, start with one of their newer ones on how to make a mold for a replica of an antique rifle.
If you ever wanted to take the time to make chain mail by hand (as opposed to just spray-painting some crocheted yarn), Make Projects has a great tutorial on just that.