As you may have noticed, articles on this blog have been appearing a little less frequently than before. I have decided to drop down to only two posts per week, rather than three. New articles will now be appearing every Tuesday and Friday. I have some ongoing family issues that take a lot of my time, and this seemed like a good way to ease the pressure without just totally dropping the blog altogether.
That being said, on to the links!
Volpin Props has a step-by-step guide up for his latest prop creation, a Magister’s staff from the Dragon Age video game. I’ve been following the progress of this piece on his Twitter and Facebook, and it’s great to see the whole thing finally come together. And, it’s a nice introduction to matrix molding.
I don’t know the source of this, but this video showing the inner workings of animatronic heads recently surfaced on the Internet. I find it fascinating to see all the mechanisms and bits that go on the inside, and how it all comes to life when the skin goes on top.
This comes from last July, but I never actually posted it: Ten Props that Have Been Used in More than One Movie. One day, I want to do this for my own shows, because some props in my stock seem to be trotted out for every other production.
Do you need a “Do Not Disturb” sign for your show? How about 8700 of them? Collector’s Weekly looks at the “Do Not Disturb” collection of Edoardo Flores, who has accumulated that many from hotels around the world.
I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday season!
Smithsonian Magazine has a great article on the history of the humble suitcase. It seems that every show that takes place in the twentieth century involves a suitcase. Even the shows that don’t require a suitcase often get them added in rehearsal (only to be cut during tech rehearsals when they realize they can’t carry their other props, and they don’t know where to put the suitcase at the end of the scene).
Speaking of histories of objects, the Toaster Museum is a whole website dedicated to the history of the toaster.
Popular Woodworking has posted a quick guide to screws. This downloadable PDF first appeared in a 2004 issue of their magazine. Now you can download it or print it out for easy reference to the different kinds of screws, different screw heads, and the best screws to use for common applications.
The Credits talks about building the sets for The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies. Though the initial reviews of the film indicate it may be the weakest of all the Lord of the Rings films, the scale and detail of the sets—both miniature and full-scale—are breathtaking to behold.
Dug North came across these nifty kits for getting started with automata. Timberkits are solid wood pieces that you assemble to make your own working automata. Seems like a cool gift if you didn’t get what you wanted this Christmas!
Speaking of Christmas gifts, if you got my Prop Building Guidebook this year, head on over to the Amazon page and leave a review!
Here’s a short little audio story and regular story about Annett Mateo, who makes puppets for the Seattle Children’s Theatre.
I’ve never seen the 1982 film The Deadly Spawn, but John Dods, the special effects director, has a ton of behind-the-scenes photos showing the construction of the creature.
Super-fan builds is an online show where prop makers build one-of-a-kind items for obsessive fans of all things pop culture. In the latest episode, Tim Baker and his crew build a Hobbit house litter box and Eye of Sauron scratching post for a cat-loving fan of Lord of the Rings.
Tsabo Tsaboc has a set of photographs detailing the build of a dagger from the Elder Scrolls Online video game. Hat tip to Propnomicon for finding this one.
Stage Directions magazine has a great feature on Faye Armon-Troncoso this month. In “The Actor’s Propmaster“, we get a look at how she got started, some of the show’s she has worked on, and what she has learned. I got to work with Faye a bit when I lived in New York City, including assisting her in the production of Merchant of Venice mentioned in the article.
I love this visit to the Fiberglass Animal Farm. FAST Corp in Wisconsin is responsible for most of the giant animals and other roadside attractions you see around the US. If you pass a giant ear of corn on the side of the road, it was probably made by them.
Smooth-On has a great FAQ on solving one of the main problems with molding and casting in the props world: how to make paint stick to your plastic castings.
I know a few props people who sometimes work on the balloons in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, so I really enjoyed this article which looks at the 1920s puppeteer whose inflatable monsters changed Thanksgiving.
Finally, this past Thanksgiving, I had a little article written about me in the local paper: “Props master Eric Hart: This guy wrote the book on making props for plays.”
The Chicago Tribune has a story on making fake food for a play called Smokefall. The twist here is that the characters are eating dirt and drinking paint.
Playmakers Rep is making some fake vegetation for Into the Woods. The witch’s costume is actually covered in vegetables from her garden, so the costume craft shop is churning out latex lettuce leaves to sew into a dress.
Propnomicon points us to this new Lovecraft-based prop making blog called Elder Props. It already has lots of tutorials and how-tos for a number of projects.
If you ever wanted to know about marbleizing paper, this page has a run-down of several different techniques, from basic to advanced.
Here is an interesting article on Chad Taylor, a Cleveland-based prop maker who builds replicas of film and comic book props for cosplayers around the world.