A while back I wrote about some rupees I made for a Legend of Zelda musical. The group doing the musical is called The League of Extraordinary Thespians, and I made a few more props for them, such as Link’s Master Sword.
Making the pattern
The musical is based off of The Ocarina of Time video game, so first I had to find some accurate reference images from the game. From those, I drew out a paper pattern for the blades.
Layout for bevel
After cutting the pattern out of plywood, I made another pattern to find the bevel on the blade. I was working on three swords (one for Link, one for Dark Link, and one for a lobby display) so taking the time to make these patterns saved a lot of time in the long run.
Shaping the blade
I used a rasp and block sander to shape the blade.
Pommel and Shoulder
I turned some of the handle and guard parts on a lathe. The quillon block (otherwise known as the écusson) is just a slice of PVC pipe.
Adding the quillons
For the rest of the detail on the guard, I used pieces of MDF which I shaped with my belt sander and fine tuned with a Dremel.
Happy May, everyone! It’s a busy month for many of us as seasons wind down and summer seasons wind up, and for those of you in the educational world, classes are ending and graduations approach. But at least it’s getting warmer outside! And I have some links for you!
CBS Denver has an article about Bill Slezak, the prop master on the touring production of Mary Poppins. The show has some 4,000 props, and Bill is in charge of repairing and placing all of them in whatever city they go to. Be sure to watch the video since the article itself is just a brief transcription of said video.
Kasterborous has an article about Nick Robatto, one of the chief prop makers on Dr. Who. Not only does he make the props for the show, but he also makes the licensed replicas of the props to sell to fans. How’s that for carving out a niche in the market?
Have you heard about the giant head found in the Hudson River? A New Orleans prop maker guesses it’s over 10 years old (he says the pink foam inside hasn’t been used since the eighties), while a Mardi Gras float maker says it’s a Mardi Gras float. What do you think?
Finally, a lot of film props are made by piecing together found objects. Cracked has put together five Sci-Fi gadgets that are really just everyday objects.
Here is a short piece from CBS about History for Hire, the famous North Hollywood prop rental house. It deals specifically with their work on the film The Artist. It’s a bit dumbed down for a non-props person audience, but it’s still a nice look into History for Hire’s stock.
Props to Hollywood Props
Update: Sorry, I didn’t realize the video wouldn’t appear in this post; you have to follow the link to watch it. The horror!
The following first appeared in The Salt Lake Herald, on July 27, 1902.
Many stories are told of Dion Boucicault as occurring during the active life of that playwright actor. One relates to the time he was playing a piece called “The Vampire” at the Princess theatre, London. The opening scene represented the highest regions of the Alps by moonlight, while a thunderstorm raged in the distance. The Vampire (Mr. Boucicault) was seen lying dead on the mountain peak, to all appearances, but as a ray of moon touched his body he came to life.
Of course, the thunder was produced in the usual manner by the property man with a “thunder sheet.”
One night in the height of the season a tremendous clap of thunder startled the audience and interrupted Mr. Boucicault in the middle of a speech. Lowering his voice so that it could be heard only by the property man, he said:
“Very well, Mr. Davis, you are making more mistakes. That clap of thunder came in the wrong place.”
Mr. Davis replied in stentorian tones, which could be plainly heard all over the auditorium:
“No fault of mine, sir; it wasn’t my thunder. Thunder’s real out of doors, perhaps you can stop it there.”
Originally published in The Salt Lake Herald, July 27, 1902, page 11.
Have you entered the Prop Building Guidebook contest and voted on your favorite prop yet? This is the last time I’ll remind you, because the contest ends next Tuesday.
The BBC has a lengthy story on the history of the tin can. It is far more thrilling and complex than you may have imagined.
Jesse Gaffney has a great post on how to make running water on stage. It’s a common trick amongst props masters, but it is great to see all the steps photographed and explained in detail.
Tested has an interesting post on the low budget special effects from yesteryear, particularly those employed by Ed Wood.
Chris Schwartz points us to a paper written by Matt Pelto on the difference between an artist, artisan and craftsperson (follow the link at the site to see the actual paper). It’s an appropriate question for props people, who may refer to themselves as artisans, builders, designers, artists, or many other descriptors. It is interesting to read the actual historical origin of some of these terms.
Janet Sellery runs a website dedicated to health and safety in the arts. She is based in Canada, so the workplace laws are specific to there, but the list of resources she provides is useful to everyone. I like her slogan, too: “Creative Risks without Safety Risks.”