Tag Archives: repair

TGI Links

This is from a few years ago, but it should provide a lengthy diversion: The New York Stagehand Glossary. It has a lot of terms which should be familiar to many of us, along with many I have heard for the first time (which is understandable, because I only did a bit of work as a stagehand while living in New York City).

Back in the old days, inventors who applied for a patent also had to submit a model of their invention. These models ranged from simple craft attempts to miniature marvels of engineering. The Rothschild Petersen Patent Model Museum houses one of the largest collections of these models, most dating from the 18th and 19th century. You can also view this set of photographs showing more of the models and exhibits.

Prosthesis
Prosthesis by bjepson, on Flickr

Most props people are familiar with Mortite and floral putty for temporarily securing props to shelves, trays and tables. Sometimes, though, you want something a little stronger; you may even need something clear, such as when you need to secure crystal to a glass surface. Quakehold! has a whole bunch of products intended for securing your collectibles and valuables to shelves at home in case of earthquakes. Materials such as Museum Wax, Museum Putty and Museum Gel should keep your props from tipping or falling, and can be cleanly removed when the show is finished.

I like this tutorial for repairing broken plastic items with solvent welding with one caveat: you need to wear the proper gloves and skin protection as well as provide adequate ventilation and respiratory protection.

At the Props Summit a few weeks ago, they mentioned InFlow, an inventory management software program which can be used to catalog and track inventory. It was suggested that it might be useful for maintaining a photographic database of your stock. I haven’t used it, but the website offers a free download (you are limited to 100 items in your database) in case anyone was interested in trying it out.

day270_small

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”.

Monday Link-a-tastrophe

By now you should know about This to That, a great tool for finding out what glue to use. Well, Beacon Adhesives, makers of such prop-friendly glues as Magna-Tac and Fabri-Tac, have their own Adhesive Selection Chart.

I know I just did a post on knots, but I had to show off this hot knot diagram. It’s from a site I just discovered called Low-tech Magazine, which “refuses to assume that every problem has a high-tech solution”. How very apropos for those of us in the world of ever-shrinking prop budgets.

Dug North has started compiling a great big list of Automaton plans in one single page. Some are even free!

Finally, here’s a neat little Repair Manifesto. You can view the image in a larger size as well.

hot glue gun

Five Prop Quick-Fixes

Sometimes you need to fix things right, and other times, you need to fix them right now. Here are four things which prop people rely on to fix a prop when the audience is already seated and the curtain is about to go up.

Hot Glue

hot glue gun
Hot Glue Gun

It’s a common prop adage that “anything can be fixed with hot glue.” That’s true in many cases, and the fact that it cools in minutes (sometimes seconds) and is removable makes it a great candidate to hold two things together at the last minute. When you need to separate the items, just peel them apart. Keep in mind that it is not structural, and it will not come out of most fabrics.

Gaff tape

gaffers tape
Gaffer's Tape

Gaff tape is short for gaffer’s tape, so named because of its use by gaffers to tape down cords and cables. It’s like duct tape for prop people; unlike duct tape, it leaves no residue when removed, and most importantly, it comes in black, so it disappears on stage (and can be used in a pinch to make other things disappear on stage as well).

Wire

wire
Wire

Wire of all different thicknesses is great for tying things together when adhesives just won’t stick. It’s also key for hanging things from walls or ceilings. With glue, there’s always a chance the weight will prove too much for the bond and cause the prop to come crashing down on someone’s head.

Mortite

Mortite rope caulk
Mortite Rope Caulk

Mortite, or rope caulk, is a type of caulk that will not dry out. It’s great for keeping glasses from sliding around on a tray, or vases from toppling off of a shaky table. It also makes it very easy to remove the prop when needed, as when an actor needs to pick up the vase during a scene.

5-minute Epoxy

5 minute epoxy
5 Minute Epoxy

I prefer the kind that comes in the easy-dispense tubes, which makes this product as idiot-proof as possible. Epoxy resin is a liquid which comes in two parts; when mixed, it sticks to many materials and becomes rock-hard. As the name implies, 5-minute epoxy hardens in 5 minutes, making it one of the quickest ways to get a very secure bond.