Dug North has started a series on working with brass, and in the first installment, he shows several ways to cut brass. Whether it’s brass rod, tube or sheets, he knows the tools to use.
This is pretty great: the “Women in Leadership” column at the Guardian has highlighted Hayley Gibbs, a prop maker in the UK. It’s heartening to see a news outlet acknowledge that people who work with their hands and make things can be leaders too.
Understanding formal dining settings can be important to the prop master who strives for historical and cultural accuracy. If a play, film or television show calls for characters to dine in a formalized setting, the amount of plates, utensils and glasses involved are numerous and often not laid out in the script. Following the conventions of formal dining settings help establish the time and place and flesh out the characters (not to mention giving the actors something to do in the scene). Many audience members will recognize when proper formal dining procedures are not followed.
Below is an image of a “typical” formal dining setting. By “typical”, I mean a contemporary style used in Western/Anglo-Saxon cultural settings. It can of course vary depending on the food being served and the level of formality, as well as by cultural and regional specifics. Nonetheless, the basic style presented in the picture below is relatively standard from the Edwardian period (1901-1910) to the present.
Careful research is always needed for recreating any sort of historical dinner settings. Before 1900, table settings differed much more between the countries of Western Europe, though formalized dinner settings in general have been practiced as far back as medieval times.
I’m props mastering a show called “Slave Shack”, at the Algonquin Theatre in the Gramercy Park area. One of the scenes calls for the actress to fling a scotch glass against the wall, where it breaks.
I decided to buy a number of thin glasses and spray them with Plasti-Dip. It’s a rubber coating which sprays on, and it comes in a variety of colors, including clear.
The rubber coating keeps the pieces of the glass together when it is smashed. If any pieces do break loose, they are not as sharp. I made a video to illustrate the process a lot more succinctly:
The obvious disadvantage of this method is that the glass ends up looking frosted. Also, you cannot use this method when you are breaking a bottle or glass over someone’s head. You can use it to coat glasses and bottles which are being thrown or dropped, but you should not have shards of glass, even coated in rubber, flying around an actor’s eyes and mouth.
The advantage? I bought three dozen (36) glasses for about $50 at a restaurant supply store. The Plasti-Dip is around $7-8 a bottle, and I only needed two bottles for this.
Smash Plastic, your other alternative, gives you a clear product, but it costs around $200 a gallon. You also need to make a mold (and buy molding supplies) and spend the time casting all of your glasses.
Sugar glass is great for films, but it degrades too quickly for theatre. Unless you want to be cooking up a fresh batch every night before the show for the next 2 weeks, or however long your show runs, it’s not a very viable alternative.