You may have noticed a distinct lack of posts this week. Between tech, a minor flood at the theatre, and personal challenges, I did not have any time to write this week. But have no fear, the Internet is here, with stories about props of all shapes and sizes:
First off, the Chicago theatre community has an annual props, sets and costume give-away amongst all the professional theatre companies. The Sun-Times Media has a nice write-up, including video and photographs of some of the theatre’s storage spaces. It is also a great exploration on how local theatre communities share resources with each other.
Dave Lowe, the props master at Hallmark Channel’s “Home and Family”, makes custom trophies for the winner of a game segment on the show. When Florence Henderson guest-starred, he set out to create a replica of the cursed tiki from when the Brady Bunch went to Hawaii.
Happy Friday, everyone! For those of us in the middle of holiday shows, whether Nutcracker, Christmas Carol, Tuna Christmas, or what have you, I hope it’s going well. I have some fun things from around the internet you can read:
Propnomicon has been doing some research into early shipping crates and packaging, and has shared some of the discoveries made. It may be surprising to see that manufacturers were shipping products in corrugated cardboard boxes rather than wooden crates back in the 1920s.
A short article of note tells how 3D printing is finding a home in Hollywood. Of course, regular readers of this blog already know this, but it is still interesting to see specifically how and where prop makers are using 3D printing technology.
La Bricoleuse has an interesting post up about the parasols her students made in her decorative arts class. Now I know many props masters do not consider parasols to be a “prop”; I’m sharing it because Playmakers’ props assistant (and good friend) Joncie Sarratt has a stunning diagram of the parasol she had to create for their production of Tempest.
Make Magazine has a great slideshow on “Ten Tips for Drilling Better Holes“. It is a good reminder that even seemingly simple tasks can have a lot of considerations in achieving a good result. While I would not take anything off the list they present, I would add one: be sure the drill bit will not hit your hand as it exits the other side of the material (or if it slips off).
I saw this over at La Bricoleuse and had to share: it’s a Rit Dye color chart. Choose the color you want, and it will tell you which Rit dye or combination of dyes will give you that color. Now, a lot of other factors go into achieving certain colors on particular fabrics, and Rit is not the best dye for all types of fabrics, but it is readily available at most local stores and easy to work with in a pinch, and this chart is a good starting point for many colors.
I just stumbled on a cool blog called the “Creaturiste’s Labatory”. He has a post on oil clay vs water clay in terms of sculpting, though many of the other posts are useful and interesting as well.
Finally, here is a very cool video of Tony Swatton forging one of the swords from the series Game of Thrones. He has a number of videos showing the making of other weapons as well. It’s amazing to see the mix of tools and techniques he uses for hand-forging custom weapons at the pace which the entertainment industry requires. Though he mainly does film, TV and theme parks, I’ve heard his name mentioned in theatrical circles as well.
I’ve linked to some repositories of old maps before, which are always good for making paper props. But the Propnomicon website pointed me to Old Maps Online, which gives you an interactive interface to find historical maps within whatever date range you specify. It’s kind of like using Google Maps while traveling through time.
Speaking of vintage ephemera (and musical theatre), Gaytwogether is a blog which occasionally posts vintage photographs of gay couples, which you can browse through all at once at that link.
La Bricoleuse has just posted the final projects from her class on complex masks. Though little is written, the photographs give a lot of information about how the various masks were made, and it is very interesting to see the various methods of construction and the materials used.
If you study the technical side of some of the materials used in making props, you may know that “polymerization” is what happens when a resin changes from a liquid to a hard plastic (among other things). If you read MSDS sheets (which you should), you may also have come across the phrase “explosive polymerization”. If, like me, you are wondering what that means, you may be interested in this video; it has a long build-up, but the payoff is worth it.
This will be my last post about this year’s USITT conference. I would have done a more extensive wrap-up, but I had to jump straight into tech for “The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide…” immediately upon returning to New York City. Instead, I’ll highlight some summaries from around the web. Much of USITT is very lighting/audio/automation oriented. Since the coverage of props is so under-served, I promise to do a more in-depth post next year.
One of the sessions I attended was “Everything is a Weapon”. Tom Fiocchi, one of my first prop teachers, was joined on stage with Wayne Smith, Brian Ruggaber, and a giant marlin fish with a sword for a nose. The session dealt with what factors make a weapon “stage combat–worthy”, and how to apply those factors to objects that were never intended to be weapons. Jacob Coakley has a great summary of the workshop on TheatreFace if you want to learn more.
You may have noticed in her photos a blood sample chart in this year’s Expo. The chart was showing off a new type of stage blood which washes out of nearly everything. Developed by Meghan O’Brien-Blanford and Peter W. Brakhage at the University of Delaware, the chart featured a swatch of the most common fabrics used on stage. Each was soaked in the blood, then washed after either one hour or two hours. As fas as I could tell, only one fabric showed any signs of staining; the rest were completely clean, even after sitting two hours before being washed. They were giving away samples which they named “Fugitive Blood”; the labels invited us to check out FugitiveBlood.com, but at the moment, the website is still in its “coming soon” phase.
Making and finding props for theatre, film, and hobbies