Video: Glowing Coals

I am back with another companion video to my upcoming book, The Prop Effects Guidebook. This is a quick and simple effect for making red hot glowing coals without the use of flame or heat. I first learned it from Jay Duckworth, who probably learned it from his mentor, who learned it from his, on back through history to Ancient Greece, when Propcrates invented props.

Glowing Coals

I will be releasing more of these companion videos as we draw closer to the book’s release. You can watch all of them on YouTube.

The Prop Effects Guidebook is available for pre-order now at most major retailers.

First Prop Links of the Year

Master and Apprentice – If you haven’t seen this show yet, you are missing out. Every week, Marcus LaPorte and Adam Ellis build a replica prop from pop culture from scratch. Marcus is a production designer with 17 years experience and Adam is a novice cosplayer. The show is especially compelling because of their interaction as Marcus teaches Adam new skills and tools. It is also a very beautifully shot production.

You want a flamingo? No problem! A rare glimpse inside the RSC’s mind-boggling props HQ – Take a look into the props shop of one of the UK’s finest theaters. This article chats with Alan Fell and others involved in his department, and a multitude of photographs illustrate all the nooks and crannies of their stock.

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’s Set Designer Shares the Secrets to Creating That Magical World – Mid-century design will always have a special place in my heart, and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is one of the latest period television shows to bring that era to life. Apartment Therapy talks with Bill Groom, the production design artist behind these sets.

Life in a British Art Department for Film and Television – Graphic designer Matthew Clark gives an interview about his career in a British Art Department. In his eight years, he has worked on productions such as Black Mirror, Doctor Who, Red Dwarf XII, and Loaded.

Video: Kabuki Drop with Solenoid

I am back with another companion video to my upcoming book, The Prop Effects Guidebook. The kabuki drop mechanism is simple (and the following video is short), but it can be helpful to actually see it in action.

Kabuki drop with solenoid

I will be releasing more of these companion videos as we draw closer to the book’s release. You can watch all of them on YouTube.

The Prop Effects Guidebook is available for pre-order now at most major retailers.

Video: Breakaway Glass with Isomalt

Now that the holidays have passed, I am back to posting companion videos for my upcoming book, The Prop Effects Guidebook. The latest is on how to make a breakaway glass using isomalt. Isomalt has a lot of advantages over cane sugar, and it is not much more expensive.

Most of the work in this video was done by my assistant at the time, Lisa Bledsoe. We needed a breakable whiskey glass for Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, so she made a mold of a real glass and figured all of this stuff out.

I bought the isomalt from Make Your Own Molds, which also has some great tutorials to help you get started with making breakaway glass.

Breakaway Glass with Isomalt

I will be releasing more of these companion videos as we draw closer to the book’s release. You can watch all of them on YouTube.

The Prop Effects Guidebook is available for pre-order now at most major retailers.

Top Prop Stories of 2017

As 2017 draws to a close, let us take a look back at the top news stories that affected our industry.

Robby the Robot Is Now the Most Valuable Movie Prop Sold at Auction – The famous Forbidden Planet creation recently sold for $5,375,000.

Alley Theatre Suffers Damage From Hurricane Harvey – One of the United States’ largest regional theaters suffered a devastating blow as flood waters destroyed a major portion of their hand props. They were able to bounce back quickly and resume putting on shows, but this loss will surely be felt for years to come.

Fake cosplay guns, real security problems at Comic Cons – Though cosplay continues to gain in popularity, more and more fan conventions are limiting the use of realistic prop guns, or even banning prop weapons altogether. Expect this story to continue to unfold over the next few years.

20 Years of the 501st Legion: How the Star Wars Costuming Group Became a Force for Good – Speaking of cosplay, the world-famous group of Stormtrooper enthusiasts celebrated their twentieth anniversary this year.

San Diego Opera to Sell Studio to Help Stabilize Finances – The company announced its plan to sell off its scene shop as a way to balance their budget. They will continue to rent a portion of it to build sets, and they pulled this off without any layoffs, so it may end up being a positive thing.

Jay Duckworth at USITT 2017 – One of the keynotes at 2017’s USITT conference was a props person. Jay Duckworth, props director at The Public Theater, spoke about his career and the artist’s “bug out bag.”

Inside Syfy’s Cosplay Melee Workshop – The Syfy Channel introduced a new reality show this year called Cosplay Melee. Tested took us into their workshop to see what the contestants had to work with.

Off-Broadway Producers and United Scenic Artists Create First Ever Agreement for Off-Broadway Designers – In an historic move, designers on Off-Broadway productions will now be covered by the USA union. I do not know what this means for prop designers, who can be found all over Off-Broadway but are almost non-existent in venues already covered by USA.

The Prop Building Guidebook second edition – Finally, the second edition to my book was released this year. I like to think this is news-worthy. Be on the lookout for an all-new book from me, The Prop Effects Guidebook, which will be out in early 2018!

Making and finding props for theatre, film, and hobbies