Just down the road from me, Playmakers Rep is doing Enemy of the People. The costume shop needed to age one of their suits, but they didn’t want to ruin it for future use. So they turned to Schmere, which makes a line of products that stain and distress fabrics, but disappear when you wash or dry clean them. I bet you can find uses for this for soft goods and fabric props, or you can just tell your costume shop manager for some brownie points.
Here is a pretty cool step-by-step guide to a Dragonbone dagger replica made by Folkenstal. Folkenstal uses some interesting techniques of laying up different thicknesses of plastic to create a rough block, and then sanding and cutting it to the final shape. Great photographs.
Furoshiki is the Japanese art of wrapping objects with cloth. The Japanese Minister of Ecology is encouraging the country to use furoshiki to carry the products they purchase, rather than paper or plastic bags. They’ve even made a handy chart showing how to wrap various-shaped objects. I can imagine this coming in handy for all sorts of prop purposes.
Finally, Tested brings us this sixteen-minute tour through Harrison Krix’s garage, better know as the Volpin Props prop shop. We get to see his small but well-equipped shop, check out some of his favorite tools, and get a sample of some of the many cool props he has built over the years.
I like this photography series called “Much Loved”. The photographer took photographs of teddy bears and similar toys which have been cherished for decades by their owners, and wrote a bit about their back story as well. It’s great research not just for teddy bears from 50-70 years ago, but also for the kind of extreme distressing and aging that these archetypal and cherished “favorite toys” can go through.
A whole subculture exists of prop makers making replicas of objects which exist in popular video games. Here is a great step-by-step build of a dagger from Skyrim. Though the end result is a bit “plastic-y”, the process shots show some interesting techniques and use of materials.
Finally, here is an interesting solution to the age-old problem of four-legged furniture that does not sit flat. When your tables or chairs rock, try trimming one of the legs… on the table saw:
Berkeley Rep has posted a video of the set changes in Chinglish. It’s fun and very well made; I saw Chinglish back on Broadway and the scene changes were slick, fast and fluid. I wish more theatres featured their technical and backstage elements like Berkeley Rep has done here; so much of what we do is underrepresented in the media, and it all just disappears once the show closes.
Of the 68,890,282 chemicals used in business and industry today, only about 900 have been tested for cancer-causing abilities. As props people, we are exposed to many chemicals on a daily basis in our paints, adhesives, cleaning products, molding and casting compounds, coatings and even when cutting solid materials. Many of these chemicals are introduced to products without testing whether they are toxic or cause long-term harm. The Safe Chemicals Act means to amend the current laws so that manufacturers have to test chemicals before they sell them to you, rather than the other way around. Currently, it is languishing in the Senate; you can help push it along by contacting Senator Harry Reid, signing this online petition, or by contacting your own Senator to urge action.
Our upcoming show requires a large amount of torn pieces of paper. They also live in a working sink throughout the production. As with any paper prop handled roughly by an actor (and especially one that might get wet during the show), we treat it almost like a consumable, with a large amount of back-ups at the ready.
Natalie came up with a quick jig to ease this operation. It’s a small piece of quarter-inch MDF with each edge giving a different “deckled” pattern.
So get out there and tear it up this Friday!
Making and finding props for theatre, film, and hobbies