Tag Archives: halloween

Friday Rehearsal Notes

Vulture visits the set-building factory for Saturday Night Live. Check out some great photographs and insights into how Eugene Lee and his team of designers create sets from scratch in only a day or two.

Tested visits the Jim Henson Creature Shop and gives us this great sixteen minute video. What I love about the Creature Shop (other than how awesome their puppets are) is how Jim Henson started out with simple hand puppets in the mid-50s, and today the company is on the leading-edge of animatronic creature design.

Rania Peet has some great projects over on her Instructables page, where she shows off the work she does as a Halloween haunt builder. I particularly like this chasing marquee “Freak Show” sign and these giant mushrooms.

If you love getting obsessive over the details on your paper props, check out the Passport Stamps and Visas group on Flickr. It’s chock full of interior pages of passports from around the world, as well as a few exterior covers as well.

Some Light Prop Reading

If you’ve ever wandered over to Dave Lowe’s blog, you may have noticed he’s a bit into Halloween. He has already began building props and decorations for his house this year. I got a kick out of this ghostly gravestone made of foam core and spray foam. Be sure to check his blog regularly for many more projects leading up to the big day.

Lewis Baumstark, Jr. made a fake crowbar out of a piece of PVC pipe and wrote an Instructable showing how he did it. It looks so devilishly simple and quick, especially if you don’t have the time or money to mold and cast one.

Chris Schwartz has scanned some drawings of English furniture styles throughout history and posted them on his blog. It’s a great aid for recognizing the style of pieces you find in the antique store, or for choosing furniture based on the period of the play you are doing. It’s also fun just to see how furniture has evolved in the last 800 years or so; a chest of drawers used to literally be just a chest.

Finally, Make Magazine has shared this wonderful short video of Dan Madsen painting signs by hand.

All Props Day

All Props Day

So it’s the day after Halloween, but most of my links today are for Halloween-related props, because that’s what everyone has been writing about for the last couple of weeks. Luckily, us props people can use some good fake blood advice any day of the year.

First up is fellow SPAM member Deb Morgan, props master at the Lyric Opera in Kansas City, showing us how to make some fake edible blood and a blood bag. It’s a basic recipe that most of us know, but it’s great to watch how the different ingredients affect the final product.

Next is another SPAM member Seán McArdle giving his local Fox News channel a show-and-tell of fantastic props he has built. Besides his own take on the blood bag, he’s got a really cool non-pyrotechnic gunshot effect for a musket.

Ed Edmunds makes monsters and effects for haunted houses, and created the animatronic electric chair prop that essentially transformed these rides from cheesy diversions to high-tech affairs. Check out his interview in Esquire Magazine to learn more.

Finally, check out this super-cool video where artist DiResta makes a quick vacuum-formed mask, going from clay sculpt, to plaster mold, to vacuum-forming, to paint:

Last Links of Proptober

Last Links of Proptober

Whew! Crazy For You opened last night, so my wife and I can finally take a breath and return to normal life. I will post some pictures of the props once the show closes. I made a lot of fun items for that production: four tables (two with turned legs), 12 pink candlestick phones, a custom-sized player piano, an exploding cuckoo clock, a break-away sign, 3 benches, lots of signage and much more, not to mention tracking down all the normal everyday items and hand props they needed (did you know it’s illegal to sell deer antlers from local deer in North Carolina? Because I didn’t).

In other exciting news, I have received the electronic proofs for The Prop Building Guidebook. This is essentially an e-book showing exactly how all the text and photographs will be laid out. I have to go through every single sentence and check for typos, misprints and all other errors (such as making sure the photos have the correct captions). Once that’s done, those files go straight to the printers, and my book will be in your hands before you know it! It’s very exciting to actually see the book in it’s final form.

With that news out of the way, here are some links I’ve come across in the last week:

First, here is a nice little tutorial for making latex bladders. I’ve seen blood knives and similar effects where you store the blood in various squeeze bottles, but sometimes you need a custom-shaped bladder to fit inside; that’s where latex bladders come in handy.

Volpin Props has a new website, and it is pretty spectacular. Harrison Krix is one of the hottest independent prop makers working in replicas of video game props and other pop culture artifacts (he has also kindly provided some photographs for my book), and his website is a great showcase for his work.

The other heavy-hitter in the world of semi-professional replica prop making is Shawn Thorsson, and Make Magazine recently put together a slide show showing off his workshop.

Halloween is the time of year when many non-professionals try their hand at prop making. The American Scream is a new documentary showing the work of three “home haunters” who put together impressive haunted shows in their houses every year. The trailer looks like all kinds of wonderful.

Friday Link-opolis

Friday Link-opolis

Hello, internet. It’s been a pretty busy couple of weeks; Crazy for You (which I am prop mastering) begins tech this weekend. It has quite a large number of elements keeping me pretty busy, so I did not have time to write a blog for this past Wednesday. But I do have some fun links I’ve come across that should fill you with proppy goodness.

Anna Warren seems to be even busier than me over at Milwaukee Rep, but she has returned to write a new blog post, and it’s a cool one. She details how she molded and cast fried chicken out of latex and foam, using real fried chicken as the model.

The flip-side of molding and casting real food to make fake food is molding an object to cast it out of an edible material. This brings up many safety concerns, as very few molding materials and mold releases are food-safe. Smooth-on has a wonderfully-illustrated tutorial for casting edible items using a food-safe silicon putty.

I have yet to catch the TV series Face Off, in which special-effects makeup artists compete in time-intensive challenges (like Project Runway for the sci-fi set), but I’ve heard good things about it. Jamie Frevale interviews Rod Maxwell, one of the contestants on the show, about his work and what it was like “performing” that work on television.

Finally, just in time for Halloween, we have this video of a CNC machine which can carve Jack-o’-lanterns: