I ran across this helpful picture of various soft drink cans since the middle of the Twentieth Century.
I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday season!
Smithsonian Magazine has a great article on the history of the humble suitcase. It seems that every show that takes place in the twentieth century involves a suitcase. Even the shows that don’t require a suitcase often get them added in rehearsal (only to be cut during tech rehearsals when they realize they can’t carry their other props, and they don’t know where to put the suitcase at the end of the scene).
Speaking of histories of objects, the Toaster Museum is a whole website dedicated to the history of the toaster.
Popular Woodworking has posted a quick guide to screws. This downloadable PDF first appeared in a 2004 issue of their magazine. Now you can download it or print it out for easy reference to the different kinds of screws, different screw heads, and the best screws to use for common applications.
The Credits talks about building the sets for The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies. Though the initial reviews of the film indicate it may be the weakest of all the Lord of the Rings films, the scale and detail of the sets—both miniature and full-scale—are breathtaking to behold.
Dug North came across these nifty kits for getting started with automata. Timberkits are solid wood pieces that you assemble to make your own working automata. Seems like a cool gift if you didn’t get what you wanted this Christmas!
Speaking of Christmas gifts, if you got my Prop Building Guidebook this year, head on over to the Amazon page and leave a review!
I have an article out in this month’s Stage Directions magazine, hot off the presses. For “Cabinet of Wonders“, I spoke with Marc André Roy, the lighting project manager on Kurios, the new show from Cirque du Soleil. Kurios has a lot of props with wireless lighting and motion effects, and we looked at how Cirque makes that happen. I also talked with James Smith at RC4 Wireless, where all the wireless dimmers that Cirque uses are made. You may remember my blog post on my trip to RC4 Wireless earlier this summer.
These photographs of the inventories of British Soldiers are endlessly fascinating and useful. Thom Atkinson has taken all the gear and paraphernalia that a British soldier was issued at various times in history over the past 1000 years, and laid it all out on the floor. If you wanted to know what an archer was carrying at the Battle of Agincourt in 1415 (say, if you’re doing Henry V), this is where you should go.
The Examiner has a great interview and profile of Beth Hathaway, a master of building creatures for film. Hathaway has been a fabrication specialist at Stan Winston Studios and KNB EFX for decades, working on projects such as Edward Scissorhands, Jurassic Park, Terminator 2, Star Trek: The Next Generation and The Walking Dead.
Finally, check out this LA Times story on Nick Metropolis, the famed LA store filled with junk and jumble of all varieties.
I came across some interesting prop-related illustrations in a series of books called The Shakespeare Rare Print Collection, which was published back in 1900. The first shows a performance in progress on the stage of the Red Bull Playhouse circa 1672. I’m not really sure this is a Shakespeare play, since the drawing was made during the Restoration Theatre period well after his death.
You can see some minimal hand props, like a cup and a lantern, as well as plenty of swords and musical instruments. The picture shows a complete lack of furniture though, as well as any sort of scenic element.
The other illustration shows specimens of fans “as referred to in the notes on the Merry Wives of Windsor.”
This drawing was made in 1786. It is fascinating how much variation there is in such a seemingly simple hand prop.
Happy Friday, everyone! I have a short, but sweet, list of links today:
This should keep you busy for awhile: 110 Best DIY Tips Ever. Popular Mechanics magazine is celebrating its 110th anniversary, and to celebrate, they have looked through the pages of all their old issues to find all the best tips and tricks they have ever printed. Whether you are a beginner or an old pro, you are sure to learn something new here.
Tested has a great feature on how foam latex spawned a horror makeup revolution. They touch on the history of makeup and prosthetics in film, looking at some of the pioneers of the craft.
This next article comes from an interior designer, but it’s really about the secrets of a prop stylist. She lists some ways to improve your ability to dress and style a set (though she is actually talking about applying those tips to your own home).