Tag Archives: resin

Friday Link-o-Rama

Just a reminder that there’s little more than 25 days left to enter the Prop Building Guidebook Contest! You can’t win if you don’t enter. I also wanted to ask a favor; if you have already bought your copy of the Prop Building Guidebook, head on over to the Amazon page (or to whichever store you bought it from) and leave a rating or a comment. I also have a Facebook page where you can tell me what you think. I’d love to hear what you like about the book, what you don’t, and how you’re using it. Now, onto the links!

David Katz has a website with a lot of information centered around his “Chemistry in a Toy Store“. It has some pretty fascinating articles about how common chemical toys work, such as Silly Putty, Slime, Shrinky Dinks, and the like. What is even more useful is if you scroll down, you will see Chemistry in the Toy Store Recipes; Katz shows how you can use common household ingredients to make things like slime, ooze, disappearing ink, various putties and more. Props people need these recipes all the time, and Katz is the chemist who originally came up with most of them.

Phil Obermarck is a sculptor who runs a blog, and he has an in-depth article about his experience using Jesmonite. Jesmonite is a gypsum-based acrylic resin that can be used with fiberglass. Unlike typical fiberglass resin (usually a polyester resin), Jesmonite is water-based and contains no solvents, which gets rid of a LOT of the health and safety hazards inherent in using fiberglass (though certainly not all of them). It unfortunately looks as though it is only available in the UK and Europe, though you can get comparable products in the US (Aqua-Resin being among the more popular).

Photographer Andrew Scrivani has an interesting article in the New York Times on how to choose props to improve food photography. While few of us may be propping a food photo, the ideas he shares are just as useful for anyone dressing a set or designing the props in a scene.

The original Frankenstein movie was a hallmark in special effects makeup as well as set dressing (try to think of a science laboratory that hasn’t been influenced by this film). So how cool is it to see behind-the-scenes photographs of Frankenstein and similar monster films?

Last Links before the End of the World

Happy Winter Solstice, everybody! I will be taking off the next week or so for the holidays. Once the new year rolls around though, I’ll be having some pretty exciting stuff to post in the lead-up to my new book (coming February 26th). Until then, enjoy these links:

Here’s a great story and video about how a prop maker and a woodworker are collaborating on affordable prosthetic hands. Richard Van As, a South African woodworker, lost his fingers in a woodworking accident. He couldn’t afford commercial prosthetics, so he worked with Washington-state prop maker Ivan Owen to build his own prosthetic.

This is a nice little article about the Fulton Theatre scene shop (including the props shop), located in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

I recently came across a forum called The Effects Lab. It is meant for special makeup effects, mask making and creature design, and has a fairly active community of people discussing sculpture, animatronics, casting and other skills useful to many types of prop makers.

Wired has an article and first in a series of videos on DIY mold-making; making molds with silicon rubber and casting in plastic resin is commonly used in props shops, and these videos are a pretty straight-forward guide to getting started. Of course, the whole “doing it in your house where you and your kids eat and sleep” is questionable in safety terms.

Here’s a fun and whimsical tale of the tools in a toolbox having an argument. Warning: do not read if you cannot stand puns.

 

First Links of Winter

Okay, so it’s still a few days until winter, but the sudden temperature drop makes it feel like it’s already here. I am driving down to North Carolina today; enjoy these links and websites in the meantime.

Stage Directions magazine shows how props artisan Jay Tollefsen improved the “baby-in-a-bag” trick for the Actors Theatre of Louisville’s annual production of Dracula in this article titled, “Baby’s Got a Brand New Bag.”

Hirst Arts Fantasy Architecture has compiled a nice tutorial with lots of helpful hints on casting small resin pieces in silicone molds.

This fascinating post looks at the history of imagined books as props in theatre. One example is the first use of a prop book in Shakespeare’s The Tempest, in which the script mentions Prospero’s book; what would they have used as a prop in those earliest of performances. The article talks about far more; like I said, it’s pretty fascinating.

The Educational Theatre Association has a nice how-to on adding texture to hard scenery; it’s great for using on props as well.

By 1974, the EPA had produced over 80,000 photographs showing how America interacted with the environment. The National Archives has begun making them online, and the Atlantic has posted a fine selection of some of these slice-of-life images of America in the 1970s.

Future Fossils is a collection of technological items from the near-past, such as 8mm cameras and Atari joysticks, which have been molded and cast in concrete so they look like archaeological relics from bygone days. You can buy them as well, but really, I just thought they looked cool.

Monday Link-o-Rama

Welcome to the first full work week of September! I’ve been away all weekend, so enjoy these articles and sites:

The Art of Manliness has a nifty guide on sharpening your edged tools. It deals mainly with knives and axes, but it covers a lot of the basics.

Once you’re finished sharpening your tools, you can find out why your teenager can’t use a hammer. The decline of shop and industrial arts classes are leaving even the most basic of manual jobs with a dearth of skilled young workers.

Air and Space Magazine has a nice little gallery of Vietnam War—era Zippo lighters.

I recently came across The Clubhouse, an online community for model-builders, sculptors, and collectors. It seems to be a good resource for help and information on working with plastics and resins, as well as painting and weathering.

Some Confusions in the World of Plastics

I’ve been researching the wide world of plastics for the book I’m working on. I’m trying to make sure my terminology is correct, and it’s proving daunting; plastics is a world where many terms can refer to the same thing, and common-use terms may not be technically correct. Add to the mix a bunch of trade names which are used generically, and you end up with one big confusing mess.

Take urethane rubber for instance. If you are into molding and casting you may have used it. “Urethane” in this case is a shortening of “polyurethane”, the same kind of plastic you use as a clear varnish among other things. “Urethane” is also a specific substance in the world of plastics; it is known as “ethyl carbamate”. Polyurethane does not contain ethyl carbamate, nor is it made from it.

Rubber can refer to a material or a substance. The substance, sometimes clarified as “natural rubber”, has historically been derived from the latex tree, though the proliferation of latex allergies has led to some companies experimenting with different plant sources. Synthetic rubbers, such as nitrile, do not contain latex; the “rubber” in their name refers to the fact that their properties mimic natural rubber. Technically, they are all referred to as “elastomers”.

Thus, “urethane rubber” contains neither urethane, nor rubber.

Speaking of latex, we all know and love latex paint for painting houses both inside and out. Sometimes we even use it to paint props. It does not actually contain any latex. It refers to paints which use plastics as their binders, such as acrylic, polyvinyl acrylic, styrene, etc. Vinyl resins are cheaper than acrylic resins, and most house paints contain a lot more vinyl than acrylic, which is why pure acrylic paint is a lot more expensive than house paint.

In case you are wondering, the acrylic in paint is the same acrylic found in sheet form, known commonly by trade names such as Plexiglas and Lucite. Crazy!