Tag Archives: magazine

Good Links for a Good Friday

Tested has another great episode of their talk show where Adam Savage, Will Smith and Norm Chan discuss building an inexpensive toolkit for beginner makers. By “maker”, they mean someone doing small-scale fabrication of wood, various metals and plastics, some fabric and leather, model-making, and a bit of electronics, so really, it’s great advice for beginning prop makers as well. You can either watch a video or listen to a podcast of the show, which runs about 41 minutes long. They have also written down the list of tools they suggest, though it’s a good idea to listen to the show because they talk about how to buy tools and why you should get certain tools as well.

In case you missed it, I came across The Painters Journal, a publication about scenic art that ran from 2003-2010. All 22 issues are available online to read. Scenic art deals with paints, coatings, texture and sometimes even sculpting, so many of the articles are invaluable to props people as well.

Make Magazine has posted ten tips for using a circular saw. They’re all pretty good, though I would add that hearing protection should be worn too, as circ saws are almost always loud little beasts. A dust mask is usually a good idea as well.

I liked this recent article about Nick Ruiz, a theatre carpenter in the San Jose area. It’s simple and probably familiar to a lot of us in the industry, but stories like this are so rarely written.

And just a reminder that you have less than a month to enter the Prop Building Guidebook Contest! Surely you have a photograph of a prop you’ve built, and who doesn’t want a grab-bag of prop making supplies? The entries I’ve received so far look fantastic, so thanks to everyone who has already submitted.

March Goes in Like a Link

March Goes in Like a Link

It’s the end of the week, but the beginning of a new month. This is conference month for those of us in technical theatre. First is SETC, happening next week (March 5-9) in Louisville, KY. Shortly after is USITT, taking place March 19-23 in Milwaukee, WI. I will be at both if you wanted a chance to catch up or introduce yourself. At USITT, Stage Directions will be hosting a book signing for my book at their booth on Friday, March 22nd, at 12:30 PM. More info to come. For now, enjoy these links:

My latest magazine article in Stage Directions is now online; I profile the Milwaukee Rep props shop, home of props master Jim Guy. Milwaukee also happens to be the location of this year’s USITT conference. Coincidence?… actually, no, we chose to write about Milwaukee Rep for this issue precisely because of USITT.

The designer of the Dalek from Doctor Who, Ray Cusick, died this past week. The Verge has some videos and a story about him and how the Daleks came to be.

When the Vancouver Playhouse Theatre shut its doors in March 2012, its production facilities and prop storage were abandoned and surrendered to the landlords who owned the building. Jim Buckshon was subleasing part of that building at the time for his company, Renegade Productions, and decided to lease the entire building and save the props. Read the whole story to see how Buckshon took on one of Vancouver’s largest prop collections and kept it intact for future productions.

Weta Workshop — the design/production/creature/FX shop behind films such as The Lord of the RingsKing Kong and Avatar — recently solicited questions for their Mold Shop Supervisor, Michael Wallace.  Mike answers those questions about working in a mold shop, materials and techniques he uses, and his own background.

AJ Catalano is a sci-fi prop maker who has built items for films ranging from The Avengers and The Amazing Spiderman, to The Muppets. Check out this video where he talks about his background and the work he does:

3D Printed Furniture

All Props Day

My latest magazine article is out. In “Printing a Set“, I talked with several set designers who are using 3D printing technology as part of their process.

3D Printed Furniture
3D Printed Furniture

Here’s an interesting story. Some soldiers in Afghanistan were having trouble carrying and reloading ammo for the new guns they were issued. To improvise a solution, they were inspired by a prop which Jesse Ventura used in the film Predator, and set out to recreate it. It worked.

The title of this article says it all: Dexter’s Prop Master Tells How He Made the Show’s Most Gruesome Set Pieces. It is fairly gruesome, so I caution clicking through if you do not want to read about severed body parts and other macabre details.

Here is a local news article on Karl Luthin, the owner of KEL Equine Productions, an Illinois-based company which has provided historically-accurate equine props, horse wranglers and set dressing to the film industry for years. His latest work will be seen in the upcoming Lincoln film by Steven Spielberg. You have probably seen his props in films such as “Glory,” “The Patriot” or “The Last of the Mohicans“. Check out his webpage too, for photographs of many of the items he has.

You can find pictures of early variations of the game Monopoly (known as “Landlord’s Game”) as well as rules and other historical facts here. There are over a dozen variations spanning from 1903 to 1939.

Finally, I like this set of behind-the-scenes photographs from the original Alien film. It’s just a guy chilling in a monster costume, whatever.

Friday’s Rehearsal Report

Through some bizarre set of circumstances, we find ourselves here at the Public Theater in technical rehearsals for three different productions within the same week. I sometimes wish all the theatre that is made from September to November could be spread out over the entire year. Until then, we keep on moving and keep on working. And we keep on reading this blog, because I have some excellent links for you!

Yours truly has an article in this month’s issue of Stage Directions magazine, in which I detail our shop’s process for creating a break-away wall for The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures. So head on over and read it, and maybe leave a comment.

This has to be seen to be believed. Gabriel Suranyi spent 19 years creating a scratch built model of the USS Enterprise naval aircraft carrier. The site has dozens of photographs showing off the astounding level of detail.

Thanks to Seán McArdle for pointing me to this fantastic arrangement of nearly a hundred vintage spraypaint cans.

Paint-Sculpt has a nice little tutorial on sculpting realistic skin texture. They have a few other helpful tutorials as well.

I did not Desert you

I am currently in the desert of Arizona. It’s time for another S*P*A*M conference, and this year, our hosts are Childsplay Theatre. I will report on all things of interest sometime later next week. For now, enjoy these sites of interest from the comfort of your own home.

Rich Dionne tackles the many methods for making a budget estimate in theatre. I discovered I use a mix of these methods when I deal with the fuzzy world of estimating the costs of props for a show.

In an earlier issue of their magazine, Make published a primer on working with carbon fiber (aka graphite fiber). They have now posted the entire article for free on their website.

This is interesting: why are there no guns in MoMA? It’s a podcast looking at the role of design in guns. What I found fascinating is how the manufacturing of guns is what really began the standardization of parts and machines in the industrial age. Despite their role and importance in modern life, museums of design like MoMA do not display any guns.

The Monster Mummies of Japan is a strange diversion into the history of imaginary taxidermy in Japanese temples.

Finally, who can resist color photographs of Manhattan in the 1940s?