Tag Archives: Shawn Thorsson

Friday Fun Time

Chicago PD prop master Jim Zemansky talks props in this video, particularly the use of replica guns and blank-firing weapons. If you pay attention, you will see one crew member using what looks like a paintball gun off-camera during gun battle scenes; it appears he is shooting it to simulate bullets hitting around the actors. I found that interesting.

I’ve been following this build of a life-size ED-209 from Robocop for the past couple months, and it is finally finished. Here are all the parts in Make Magazine’s series which followed Shawn Thorsson as he built this massive robotic replica. Also check out Tested’s short video which looks at the final piece when it debuted at Maker Faire.

Princeton Magazine talks with TD Chris Nelson and prop master Michele Sammarco of McCarter Theatre about a recent production designed by Eugene Lee. There are some great little tidbits in this piece, such as Michele’s quote that “actors don’t like squishy chairs”.

Not all screws are the same. Popular Woodworking Magazine tests several types of screws on the market to show how they act when driven into hardwood. Personally, I know drywall screws should only be used for drywall, but I still use them. I’m usually working with cheap materials anyway; if I am doing fine furniture out of hardwood, I don’t use screws at all (brad nails all the way).

The Week’s Links

I am currently in tech for Pump Boys and Dinettes at Triad Stage, opening next Friday. This means I’m really tired, but I can read lots of things on the Internet. Here are some articles I’ve come across recently:

First up is this interview and video with prop master Russell Bobbitt. He has, perhaps, one of the more enviable positions in the world of prop-making at the moment: providing the iconic weapons for the Marvel Universe, such as Captain America’s shield, Thor’s hammer and Iron Man’s arc reactor. The article doesn’t delve into much detail, but it is still a fun read.

In the New York Times is this fantastic profile on set designer Eugene Lee. You may not recognize Lee’s name (unless you attended USITT), but you probably recognize the set to Wicked, or to Saturday Night Live, which he has been designing since it began. His house is practically a props warehouse, filled to the brim with objects and collections he has acquired over the years, and this article has plenty of photographs showing it all off.

Here is a promising new blog with a fun name: Eat, Clay, Love. It only has a few posts so far from UK-based artist Shahriar, but I’ve already picked up some new techniques I want to try.

Finally, if you have been following Shawn Thorsson’s quest to build a life-size ED-209 from Robocop, part three of his series went up last week. He’s doing a lot of molding and casting of the parts for this installment, and explains how he does it.

Friday Prop Link Roundup

You may have noticed I missed last week’s Friday blog post; we were in the midst of a big ice storm here in North Carolina, and I didn’t have any power or Internet and trees were falling all around me and it was crazy. Anyway, a lot of cool stuff has shown up in the world of props since then:

Wes Anderson’s latest film, The Grand Budapest Hotel, came out last week, and fans of his work know that he loves his props. Here is a great article giving the back-story of 10 of the most memorable props from the film. It shows the obsessive devotion Anderson has to every object in his movies, and his recognition of how a prop’s details can help tell the story.

Continuing on the Grand Budapest Hotel train, we have two articles on Annie Atkins, the film’s graphic designer and paper prop maker. First, is a short piece and slideshow in the Independent, and second is an interview and collection of the paper props themselves.

A tip of the hat to Tim Shrum for pointing me to this blog on movie miniatures. If you like tiny cars and buildings as much as I do, you’ll love this website.

3D Printing Industry checks in with Owen Collins, who has been busy over the past few years looking at how 3D printing technology pertains to theatre.

Finally, large-scale prop maker Shawn Thorsson is working on a full-scale ED-209 from the original Robocop film. This is a massive seven-and-a-half foot tall fighting machine, and he’s trying to get it complete for the Maker Faire Bay Area in May. The link has some photos and a video showing the beginning of his process; it will be interesting to see how this progresses.

Last Links of Proptober

Last Links of Proptober

Whew! Crazy For You opened last night, so my wife and I can finally take a breath and return to normal life. I will post some pictures of the props once the show closes. I made a lot of fun items for that production: four tables (two with turned legs), 12 pink candlestick phones, a custom-sized player piano, an exploding cuckoo clock, a break-away sign, 3 benches, lots of signage and much more, not to mention tracking down all the normal everyday items and hand props they needed (did you know it’s illegal to sell deer antlers from local deer in North Carolina? Because I didn’t).

In other exciting news, I have received the electronic proofs for The Prop Building Guidebook. This is essentially an e-book showing exactly how all the text and photographs will be laid out. I have to go through every single sentence and check for typos, misprints and all other errors (such as making sure the photos have the correct captions). Once that’s done, those files go straight to the printers, and my book will be in your hands before you know it! It’s very exciting to actually see the book in it’s final form.

With that news out of the way, here are some links I’ve come across in the last week:

First, here is a nice little tutorial for making latex bladders. I’ve seen blood knives and similar effects where you store the blood in various squeeze bottles, but sometimes you need a custom-shaped bladder to fit inside; that’s where latex bladders come in handy.

Volpin Props has a new website, and it is pretty spectacular. Harrison Krix is one of the hottest independent prop makers working in replicas of video game props and other pop culture artifacts (he has also kindly provided some photographs for my book), and his website is a great showcase for his work.

The other heavy-hitter in the world of semi-professional replica prop making is Shawn Thorsson, and Make Magazine recently put together a slide show showing off his workshop.

Halloween is the time of year when many non-professionals try their hand at prop making. The American Scream is a new documentary showing the work of three “home haunters” who put together impressive haunted shows in their houses every year. The trailer looks like all kinds of wonderful.