A few years ago, I was working on a show which had scenes inside a Starbucks. In the script, the characters talked about being in a Starbucks. Nonetheless, for whatever reason, Starbucks did not give permission for any of the props or scenery to show the Starbucks name or logo. I had to make letters for the sign, and it was decided that in some scenes, the sign would be far stage right and only the “ucks” would be visible, while in other scenes, the sign would be far stage left showing only the “Sta”.
Luckily, there is a Starbucks only a block away from the props shop. There is also one three blocks away. Unfortunately, the one that was two blocks away closed down last year. I blame all these independent coffee shops moving in the neighborhood for putting a number of Starbucks out of business. The point of all of this is that I was close to reference images for this prop.
I had the letters blown up to full scale in the computer and printed them out, using this as a template on lauan. As you can see in the photograph above, I added little wooden blocks on the back to give the sides something to attach to. As I write this, I wonder why I didn’t just cut the letters out of a thicker material, like three-quarter plywood. I guess it goes to show that you can always find a better way to build a prop in hindsight. Nonetheless, this method must have made sense for some reason at the time.
I cut the straight sides out of quarter-inch lauan (which is actually 3/16″ thick), while the curved sides were what we call “wiggle-wood”. I should mention that some of the work was divided up with the other artisans in the shop at the time, such as Michael Krikorian.
This project had one final hurdle. The interior loops of the “S” were too tight of a curve for the wiggle-wood to bend. I ended up laminating several sheets of cardboard together to match the thickness of the other sides. Lots of glue and lots of clamps kept all of this together.