One reason I began this blog is because I am working on my own book on props. It is going to be a guide for approaching the build of a prop. Rather than listing materials and techniques, or presenting a series of how-to’s, my book will look at the intuitive process an artisan uses when deciding how to build something, and see if there is a framework to be used for building other props.
There are a number of books already written about props. These are incredibly useful, whether for a beginning props person, or an experienced one. The following is a list of the ones I’ve read/owned that I’ve found most helpful.
The Theatre Props Handbook: A Comprehensive Guide to Theater Properties, Materials and Construction by Thurston James. One of the granddaddies of props book, found on almost every props person’s bookshelf. No matter how experienced you are, you’ll probably learn something new when you flip through it.
The Prop Builder’s Molding & Casting Handbook also by Thurston James. A great introduction and reference for all things molding and casting.
The Theater Props What, Where, When: An Illustrated Chronology from Arrowheads to Video Games by, yes, Thurston James. A handy visual reference guide to the look of common objects throughout history.
The Prop Builder’s Mask-Making Handbook by Thurston James. Though it’s about masks, which may or may not be part of the props department depending on where you work, I just wouldn’t feel right if I didn’t list the entire Thurston James quadrilogy.