Tag Archives: Alamance Makers Guild

From Prop Making to Authoring

Last Thursday, I gave a talk to the Alamance Makers Guild at STEAM Junction in Burlington, NC. I’ve been a member of the AMG since 2012, and it was great to finally give a featured presentation. STEAM Junction is the new Maker Space started by the same people.

My talk was called “From Prop Making to Authoring.” I started off discussing my career as a prop builder and what that entails, before moving onto the blog and how that ultimately led to writing The Prop Building Guidebook: For Theater, Film, and TV.

My wife broadcast the entire talk over Facebook Live, and now the video is up on YouTube. It is a little over an hour long, so only the most diehard fans will make it through the whole thing.

The audience really enjoyed it. I was able to explain how my work informed the blog and how that built an audience for the book. I talked about why I blog, and how I use social media to promote it. Much of what I discussed was relevant to makers of all kinds, not just those who build props. It is all about teaching and sharing knowledge, and how to get people interested in what you do.

Friday Props Roundup

Hi everyone. If you noticed a lack of posts this week, it was because I was in tech for our second show of the season at Triad Stage. And I bought a house and moved. And I have a newborn. But there’s still some cool props stuff this week:

New York Theatre Workshop has transformed its space for a unique production of Scenes From a Marriage. The New York Times is on the story of how director Ivo van Hove and his production designer Jan Versweyveld chopped the space into three rooms that audiences wander through in the first act, and then return to an amphitheater after intermission. Crazy. If those names sound familiar, it’s because I made a fake dead lamb for a previous production that van Hove and Versweyveld did at NYTW.

The Credits delves into the challenges of building massive sets on location in the upcoming film, The Maze RunnerThey had to hire a snake wrangler just to get rid of the snakes on set. So many snakes.

For fans of Firefly, a user named Yellowjacket has created his own high-quality printable files of all sorts of paper props from the show.

Over on the RPF, Steven K. Smith has documented the construction of a very impressive suit of armor from the Dragon Age: Inquisition video game. The whole thing is made entirely of EVA foam with acrylic paint on top.

Finally, on a personal note, Ben Harris, the founder of the Alamance Makers Guild which I’m a member of, has a Kickstarter going. Ben makes science kits for kids, where you can make your own light bulb or telegraph and such. He’s raising money to make some more kits and even to help the Makers Guild find a permanent home.  So check it out if you like science and making stuff.

Prop Sites of Early Summer

Model makers from Industrial Light and Magic gathered at this year’s Maker Faire and discussed their favorite tips, tricks and techniques for building models. Tested has the complete story, filled with lots of great photographs. There’s a ton of useful information here, as well as lots of good stories from the filming of the various Star Wars films.

Speaking of Maker Faire, the Make Magazine blog had a writeup on the Alamance Makers Guild at this year’s Makers Faire NC. I’m a member of the AMG, and though I couldn’t be at the fair, this article shows off some of the work of my fellow members.

Jay Surma has been documenting the build of a new sculpture of a Dungeons and Dragons character in great detail. In the seventh part, he tackles the mold making process. It’s a great look at a two-part matrix mold. If you’ve never seen a matrix mold being made (I don’t think I’ve ever seen one being made in person), check it out, because it’s a handy technique to keep in mind.

Popular Woodworking has a whole article devoted to sweeping, with the wonderful title “To Sweep; to Sweep: Perchance to Clean“. It makes the good point that apprentices are often tasked with sweeping so they can get to know the shop and see what everyone is working on.

Over at the Lost Art Press Blog, Jeff Burks has reprinted this 1907 list of Don’ts for Makers of Models and Moulds. Most of them are apropos to any kind of props shop. I especially like these two:

DON’T fail to have confidence in yourself, but

DON’T think you cannot improve. Try to do better each day.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Friday Rehearsal Notes

For those of you in North Carolina, the Maker Faire NC is happening tomorrow at the State Fairgrounds in Raleigh. I won’t be there, but the Alamance Makers Guild (where I am a member) will have a copy of my book you can peruse through. And of course, being a Maker Faire, there will be tons of other cool things to see and do.

How to be a Retronaut has a few cool photographs from behind the scenes at Madame Tussaud’s in the 1930s. Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum is still going strong today, and I’ve known prop people who work there, maintaining all the statues.

Adam Savage talks about how being under a deadline can actually improve your projects because it forces you to be more creative. Of course, he uses plenty of examples from his prop and model building days. And there’s a photograph of him in an alien costume.

A California couple bought a house and discovered it had a fallout shelter which was perfectly preserved from 1961. Check out the article for some awesome photographs of product packaging from that time period.

Tony Swatton makes stage combat swords for stage and film. Here is a video where he forges the sword from He-Man. And then he destroys a car with it. I’ve linked to this web series before; every week, he has a new episode showing the creation of a sword or other weapon from film, TV and video games. It is a very insightful view into all kinds of metal working techniques.

Burlington Mini Maker Faire 2012

The first Burlington Mini Maker Faire took place this past Saturday here in Burlington, NC. Ben Harris, the organizer, pulled together a great and varied group of local artists, tinkerers and hobbyists who spent the day showing off their homemade projects and skills to the community. In between watching the main booth and fielding questions, I took a few photographs of the various exhibitions. I also posted a video at the end of this post which does a good job summing up the Faire.

Recycled metal sculptures by Riley Foster
Recycled metal sculptures by Riley Foster

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