Yolanda Baker is the Last Disco Ball Maker. She has made tens of thousands of mirror balls by hand for the past fifty years at Omega National Products in Louisville, the last American manufacturer of this iconic object. Chances are, if you have a US mirror ball, it was made by her. She even did all the balls in Saturday Night Fever.
Adam Savage visits Weta Workshop’s Model Painting Shop. Adam seems to be visiting all sorts of cool places lately, and the model painting studio at the shop that built Lord of the Rings is no exception. Check out all the cool work they did while learning some painting tips for yourself.
PuppetVision has a Pinterest board with 92 pins of Animatronics & Puppet Mechanisms. You can spend days looking at all the clever ways to make objects move and come to life.
“Designing Windows is an Art”. Take a look at this interview with Erin O’Brien, a freelance window designer at Bergdorf Goodman in London. She talks about how she got started and shows off some examples of her work over the years.
Some of you already saw this yesterday, but I began a quick little survey on how your theatre uses fire and pyrotechnics. Please take a moment to fill it out; it will only take 3 to 5 minutes. Even if your theatre bans all types of fire down to the smallest candle, that information will still be useful.
Take a listen to this podcast with Ellen Freund, a prop master in film and television for 35 years. Her credits include Mad Men, Masters of the Universe, Night at the Museum, Twilight (no, not that Twilight), Twilight Saga: New Moon (yes, that Twilight), and so many more.
Karestin Harrison and Tammy Honesty are working on a recipe book of fake food due out in early 2018. Rosco has a few sample recipes up on their blog. It’s a much needed and much anticipated book for many prop builders, and one more step for Routledge in creating the ultimate prop library.
Finally, in angrier news, the UC San Diego Department of Theatre and Dance and La Jolla Playhouse recently laid off 21 production employees, and then “invited” them to reapply for their jobs at a severe pay cut. These employees include most of the department heads of the various production departments, including the props master. Read this article on Broadway World for the specifics of how and why this happened, then head on over to the UCSD Theatre & Dance – Help Save Our Jobs! Facebook Group to see what you can do to help and to continue following the story.
Hopefully none of you need to shop for your shows today, which kicks off the official “worst time to do prop shopping” season. If you are safe in your shop or in tech, here are a few interesting prop-related sites to read and visit:
Check out these hotel menus from the 1850s and 1860s. The Hilton College of the University of Houston’s Hospitality Industry Archives has dozens of scans of menus from throughout the Eastern seaboard and Midwest of the US. It’s a great resource if you need to make period-correct food for fancy gentleman.
It’s that time of year again for the New York City holiday window displays. These windows give jobs to dozens of props people for several months throughout the year, and the results are always spectacular. Gothamist has a great rundown of all the major displays, including photographs and videos showing them in action.
Make Magazine delivers some useful tips for props people again, this time giving us 10 great painting tips. These aren’t tips for creating the perfect faux marble, but rather helpful hints on masking and keeping your paintbrushes and cans neat and clean.
With the holiday season upon us, I thought it would be fun to once again see how Macy’s makes their world-famous window displays. CNN Money goes inside the workshop this year to see how a team of artists and craftspeople make these complicated and beautiful environments.
Dug North has started a series on working with brass, and in the first installment, he shows several ways to cut brass. Whether it’s brass rod, tube or sheets, he knows the tools to use.
This is pretty great: the “Women in Leadership” column at the Guardian has highlighted Hayley Gibbs, a prop maker in the UK. It’s heartening to see a news outlet acknowledge that people who work with their hands and make things can be leaders too.