Tag Archives: glue

Friday Link-o-Rama

I’m light on words this week because we are in the middle of tech for my first show at Triad Stage, but enjoy these links:

Set decorator Stephenie McMillan passed away this week. She got her start working on films in 1984, with her most notable credit as the set decorator on all eight Harry Potter films. Check out this interview with McMillan from last year to learn more about her work and her process.

If all the glues and adhesives out there are confusing to you, Design Sponge has an “adhesives 101″ for you. It does a good job breaking down the major types of glues available and what they are useful for. Of course, you should always test the specific glue you want to use first, but this guide is helpful to give you a place to start.

Check out this massive behind-the-scenes photo gallery of the first Alien movie. The models and miniatures used on that film are incredible.

Kamui Cosplay has a detailed look at how she created some fantasy armor from World of Warcraft using Wonderflex, Worbla, Friendly Plastic, PVC and EVA foam.

Last Post of the Summer

I just wanted to let everyone know that this blog will be going on hiatus until August. I am working on editing my book right now, as well as driving to Santa Fe to work for a few weeks, followed by a quick trip to Italy. I figured this blog could take a break for a few weeks so I can spend as much time on my book as possible; you’ll thank me when it comes out.

So enjoy the following links until then:

The New York Times has an interesting article on prop maker Doug Wright. Wright just finished working on Tom Cruise’s codpiece for Rock of Ages. He works on the weird and completely unique props that pop up in TV and film every now and then.

The Washington Post ran an article about the fake vomit in Signature Theatre’s production of God of Carnage. If you are working on that show, prop master Aly Geisler gives away all her secrets.

Jesse Gaffney adds her two cents to the ongoing debate of whether to call yourself a props designer or a props master.

If you have ever wondered how to prep your wood joints for gluing, here is a pretty definitive answer on the subject. Short answer: the joints should be sanded smooth, but not polished.

Have a good summer, everyone!

Full-length pheasant near completion

A dead pheasant for King Lear

In our production of King Lear, which is in its last week of performances here at the Public Theater, one of the first props we knew we needed was a collection of dead animals for when the men return from hunting. I knew from doing Timon of Athens last winter that we had nothing in stock, no one in town had anything we could rent or borrow, and you can’t just go out and buy them, so I began trying to make a pheasant.

Developing a full-scale pattern
Developing a full-scale pattern

I began gathering research images and working out a pattern. I worked out the size by looking up average heights and lengths of pheasants, and from photographs where pheasants were next to people and other objects of known sizes. In retrospect, I should have looked at more pictures of dead pheasants; a pheasant has a really long neck. In most photographs of pheasants in action, the neck is contracted so the head appears close to the chest. When the pheasant is dead and hangs limp, the neck is actually a good five to six inches long. You can see I was drawing a bird with a contracted neck which left my dead pheasant looking stiffer than a real one. Ah well, now I know for the next time I have to build a dead pheasant.

Pinning and stitching the seams
Pinning and stitching the seams

Once I had the pattern, I cut pieces out of muslin and began stitching them together. I left one side open so I could fill it with sandbags for weight. Some of the stitching was a little sloppy, which was okay because the whole thing was going to be covered in feathers and small imperfections would be obscured. Continue reading


Sites Unseen

I’ve cobbled together some good links this week. Before we get to that, I wanted to mention that I will be at USITT in Charlotte, NC, this year.

From now until April 25, 2011, Rose Brand is running a contest called “How did YOU do it?” Submit a photo or video along with a detailed description of some theatrical wizardry or artistry you pulled off, and if it’s good enough, they will feature it… on their blog. Also $50.

This has already been making the rounds, but if you haven’t seen it yet, NPR’s Morning Edition had a story called Objectively Speaking, It’s All About The Prop Master. It talks about what a Hollywood film prop master’s job is like; you can check out photographs at the site, or listen to the story that played on the radio.

A Collection a Day is a daily photograph of related objects grouped together.

A collection of globes
A collection of globes

The American Package Museum (via S*P*A*M) is a fantastic collection of images of packaging through history. They do not list the years the various packages were in use, but they include size and scale references.

Here’s an interesting rant over at the Full Chisel Blog: Please Do Not use modern glue to repair old furniture. It ties into one of my own rants about how chairs were built to come loose over time, because the alternative is for them to break. The author rails against all modern glues, but polyurethane glue gets the brunt of his complaints (that’s what Gorilla Glue is). I’ve never used hide glue before, though I’m tempted after reading this. If you really, really do not want to set up pots of boiling water in your shop, the article points you to some modern alternatives of “hide glue in a bottle”.