This short blog post up at Popular Woodworking taught me some interesting things about how British table saws are different from American ones, particularly in the safety features. I think the fence that stops at the blade is an interesting concept, and would love to try it out.
Have you heard about this? A team of people out in Tennessee are building a full-scale replica of the Millennium Falcon from Star Wars. That’s a 114 foot long spaceship for those who don’t know. What’s great is that if you look back through the blog, you can see that work began on this over six years ago, and now there is some hard-core construction going on nearly every single day. It looks fairly certain that they can pull this whole thing off.
I tweeted this earlier in the week, but if you missed it, NPR had a great story about faux food artisan Sandy Levins, who recreates historical dishes for display at George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate, New York’s Lower East Side Tenement Museum, and many other museums and historical sites.
While my new book is one of the most exciting things on the horizon, let’s not forget that this blog continues to deliver lots of fun and free writing about props, and it will do so long after the book comes out. This blog turned four years old last week, and I almost forgot about it! I thought it would be fun to recap what has appeared here, just like I did after the first year, the second year, and the third year. It now contains 585 published posts, with a total of 266,384 words; that’s one and a half times as many in my book!
So there you have Year Four in a nutshell. I post lots of other links and videos in addition to what I’ve written here. If you don’t want to miss any future posts, you can subscribe to my blog with your favorite blog reader, or sign up to get all articles through email. For even extra prop goodness, you can follow me on Twitter as well.
But seriously, It’s hard to believe this blog has been running for three years already. I began a tradition where I would sum up the posts from the previous years, starting with the first 162 posts, followed by the next 151 posts. I’m now up to 461 posts, at a grand total of over 218,000 words. If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, I would love to hear from you either in the comments or in an email; of course, if you’ve already left a comment in the past few years, feel free to leave another!
As always, remember that you can subscribe to my blog with your favorite blog reader, or sign up to get all articles through email so you don’t miss anything in the future. I add three posts a week, and as a bonus, the RSS feed and email subscriptions remain advertisement-free.
I found myself making a few fake newspapers this past year. One was for this summer’s All’s Well That Ends Well at Shakespeare in the Park. The director, Dan Sullivan, wanted Lafew to read a newspaper with the headline “King Lives” emblazoned on the front. The production was set in and around World War I.
Since they wanted tabloid-size papers (11″ by 17″), printing was no problem; I used 18″ by 24″ newsprint from those giant pads you can get and fed them through the manual feed tray of our large-format printer. It’s a pretty crappy printer for most things, but it’ll print newsprint with no problem. Anyway, once folded over, you just need to trim a little bit off each side to get it to the proper size.
The other tricky part of fake newspapers is getting all the content inside. Now, I’m not going to touch on the complexities of copyright here—if this were television or film, you would need to get clearances on all the material you put into your newspaper. In this case, the period of the newspaper I was creating meant I could use a lot of public domain text and imagery.
The first thing to do is research (obviously). You want to find out how big the text was, what kinds of fonts they used, what the covers looked like, how many columns were on a page, and all those sorts of things. You probably won’t find a single image of a newspaper that will solve all your demands that you can just print out, but you can probably find one that will serve as a guide for proportion and layout.
I’ve discovered a few sources that I like to use for locating old-timey newspaper articles. The first is the New York Times Archive. You can set an advanced search to just look through their papers from 1851-1980. The great part is that for the earliest papers (I think it’s anything before 1920-something) you can access a scanned image of the actual newspaper page. This means you can search for specific subjects or keywords and certain dates to populate your newspaper; if you look at the larger version of the picture above, you’ll see all the articles are about World War I. The difficult part is that you cannot browse the newspapers, so it can be a pretty rigorous process to click through each article to see whether it is the right size or “look” for your needs.
I like to do all my layout in Photoshop and keep the file until the show opens. That way, if the director or designer have a note, like enlarging a headline, I can just go back to the file, make the change, nudge everything else around to make it all fit, and print a fresh copy. In the above picture of “Variety” which I made for Compulsion, I had actor notes as well. Mandy Patinkin had to read and reference a real news article on the inside of the paper, so I had to make several variations on its size and placement before a final version was agreed to.
It can get pretty laborious to fill several pages with actual newspaper text, so I also searched for vintage ads to fill space. I also like to copy blocks of text and paste them onto other parts of the page; there’s no need for every word to be unique! In some cases where I couldn’t clean up smudges or distorted words, I actually retyped portions of the text with a closely-matching font.
It’s hard to believe this blog has been running for another year already. Last year, I summed up the first 162 posts. I’m doing the same thing again this year. If you are new to this site, or even if you’ve been checking it out for awhile, you may not know how much stuff is here; I’ve written 313 posts (that’s over 139,000 words). You can subscribe to my blog with your favorite blog reader, or sign up to get all articles through email so you don’t miss anything in the future. I add three posts a week, and as a bonus, the RSS feed and email subscriptions remain advertisement-free. I also have a Twitter feed where I share news and links about props. If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, now would be a great time to leave a comment or drop an email if you haven’t yet; and if you have, feel free to leave another.