Category Archives: Resources

Online and offline resources to help you in all aspects of propping a show.

Friday File Filosophy

Files and rasps are used in many aspects of prop-making; carpentry, metal-work, plastics, foam, and sculpture are among the most common.

The WeWilliams Library has a PDF of a book called File Filosophy available for free reading and downloading. In this 40 page pamphlet, they define some of the terminology of files (as well as rasps and burrs) and describe how they are made. The majority of the book shows how to use files in a variety of circumstances.

So when you get a chance, give this a read and “file” the information away for later use.

Elephant’s Trunk

Playground equipment at the entrance of Elephant's Trunk
Playground equipment at the entrance of Elephant's Trunk

Faye Armon and I headed up to Elephant’s Trunk this past weekend. It’s one of the largest flea markets in New England, and only about 2 hours north of New York City.

It runs only on Sundays from April until November, 7am-2pm. They claim it takes up 55 acres; maybe that’s true if you count the parking lot. Regardless, it took us all day to walk past every single booth at least once.

I saw Americana, ephemera, steampunk treasures, baubles, furniture from around the world, and more than a few things where I had to stop because I didn’t know such a thing had existed. The prices ranged from thousands of dollars for pristine antique furniture, to tables filled with sundry items for a dollar each.

We brought a van along which we filled with potential props for both Merchant of Venice and Winter’s Tale. Next time I think I’ll bring a rolling cart as well, as the carts that are available for borrowing there are so rusted they’re nearly immovable.

Collection of wares for sale
Collection of wares for sale

100K Garages

CNC routing is amazing if you’ve ever seen it in action. You can watch perfect circles and intricate shapes appear in plywood or other sheet goods, right before your eyes. Exact duplicates of precisely measured pieces can be made over and over again. But CNC machines are expensive. They take up a lot of room in already crowded prop shops. And they require a set of technical skills that may not be inherent in a typical prop shop staff.

That’s why 100K Garages is such an intriguing concept. Basically it is a loose network of shops around the world with CNC routers of various capabilities. You submit the guidelines of what you need built, and the shops bid on it. You pick a bid you like, the shop makes your pieces, and mails it to you. Prop done!

I have not had an opportunity to give this site a test run yet. If anyone out there has, let us know. We’d love to hear about it.

Nokia cellphones and Legos

Today is a fairly random posting, but I’m knee deep in the two Shakespeare in the Park shows for this summer, as well as a little side project.

Here is a pretty sweet timeline of Nokia phones over the past three decades:

Nokia cellphones
Nokia cellphones, 1982-2010

I had a Nokia cellphone for about three years. Still have it, in fact.

Here’s a similar timeline which Lego put out on the fiftieth anniversary of the Lego brick in 2008:

Lego Brick Timeline
Lego brick timeline

Old Maps

World Map by J. Blaeu, 1664
World Map by J. Blaeu, 1664

Who doesn’t love old maps? Maybe you don’t love them so much that you made your wedding invitations in the style of an old map (like my wife and I did). But maps pop up in plays all the time. Whether you need a large wall map for King Lear, or a small battlefield map for Arms and the Man, here are some sites that will help you find what you need.

David Rumsey Map Collection – Over 22,000 maps, focusing on 18th and 19th century North and South America, though other continents and time periods are available.

Perry-Casta̱eda Library Map Collection РLinks to hundreds of maps on other sites, as well as a small collection of its own historical maps.

Wikimedia Commons Old Maps – Dozens of maps categorized by location.

World Digital Library Maps – Over 300 high-quality scans of original historical maps (browse the rest of the site for lots of other historical artifacts).

Genmaps – Old maps of England, Wales and Scotland, navigable by county.

National Maritime Museum– Over 1700 historical sea charts and maps from the medieval period to the present.

Library of Congress – Some of their map collections are available online, though the navigation is horrendous.

National Library of Scotland – Over 20000 historical maps of Scotland available.

The 1895 U.S. Atlas – From Rand McNally.

Holy Land Maps – Maps of Judea, Palestine and Israel at the University of Florida.

Stuckenberg Map Collection – Gettysburg College’s online collection of mostly United States maps.

Antique Atlas – A site which sells old maps, currently offering images of over 900 of them.

Hargrett Library Collection -Over 1000 historical map images in another difficult to navigate format.

Historic Cities – Offers a number of old maps from a number of cities throughout the world (mostly Europe).

Reinhold Berg Antique Map Shop – Sells prints of the numerous historical maps on their site.

Old Map Gallery – Another site selling maps with many images.

If you still haven’t found enough map porn, you can peruse larger lists of sites at Odden’s Bookmarks. The site is a little out of date, so many of the sites are no longer available.