Tag Archives: armor

More Props Links for You

So this is from way back in January, but I somehow missed it. The “in 1 Podcast” talked with Kathy Fabian about her life as a Broadway props master. It’s two and a half hours of fascinating conversation about what it takes to prop a show in New York City and getting a production up and running on the Great White Way.

The Prop Solve makes this cool Dr. Strangelove Survival Pack which doubles as a camera carrying case. I don’t run across too many soft goods props projects, so it’s wonderful to see so many photos of her process from start to finish.

Maine State Music Theatre posted this quick little time lapse video showing their prop department live casting the face of an actor for their upcoming production of Evita. It looks like they’re using one of those new body-safe silicone rubbers, which I haven’t really seen in action before.

Frank Ippolito shares his process of building historical fantasy costume armor for the upcoming E3 convention. It sounds like a costume project, but it involves a lot of crafts and materials we use in props.

Finally, Cinefex takes a peek into the model-making shop behind Team America: World Police. Don’t worry, there aren’t any pictures of rude puppets here; just great photos of miniature buildings and vehicles.

Belasco’s Property Room Part 3, 1920

The following is the third part of a 1920 article on David Belasco’s property collection. The first part and second part were published earlier:

Oddities From the Orient

by Frank Vreeland

Near a Mexican guitar used in “The Rose of the Rancho” and a moon harp played in “The Darling of the Gods” hangs a pair of Chinese torture pliers which were originally intended for use in “The Son-Daughter” and which look like a pair of exaggerated lemon squeezers. Buddhist bronzes and Japanese tea sets of valuable teak wood are mingled with Oriental steel mirrors bought in a New York department store. Beneath a large part of the ceiling spreads the spokes of a large wheel from a loom that is 150 years old and casts its shadow on a set of telephone books from “The Woman,” which Property Chief Purcell remarks drily “are being kept as a souvenir of the day when you could get your call.

“And besides,” he adds with a twinkle, “they’ll be handy if the ghost of one of the men in the cast who died wants to look up a number.”

The room is especially prolific in swords. A bushel of them are rammed into a high vase in one corner, and the room sprouts them elsewhere—Roman swords, old English sabres, heavy five foot blades swung in the Crusades, and an ancient English executioner’s axe, which Mr. Purcell exhibited as a very efficient means of promoting the acquaintance of ancestors with their descendants.

A cabinet with one of the most interesting arrays in the whole exhibition—which is ticketed and catalogued, by the way—is that containing the bed quilts of the epoch when they used the bed warmers on view in one corner and didn’t depend on the janitor for heat. There are comforters and counterpanes with the sort of zigzag designs and chromatic convulsions that would warm a cubist’s heart, let alone his feet. Some of them are beautiful even from a modern standpoint, however, and those that are ugly are none the less valuable, like the Paisley shawls, of which Mr. Belasco has his fair share. Many of these coverlets were bought by Mr. Belasco without any intention of applying them to the A. H. Woods kind of production, simply being purchased as part of the entire contents of Gen. Braddock’s house in Washington, which Mr. Belasco snapped up as part of his unending campaign to equip himself with a full line of antiques.


Original Publication: Vreeland, Frank. “Belasco’s Property Room Houses Antique Gems.” The Sun and New York Herald 1 Feb. 1920, Sunday Magazine Section sec.: 7. Print.

Friday Fun with Props

This is from a few years ago, but it has everything you need to know about Blood for Film. Okay, maybe not everything, but it has a ton of information, a break-down of helpful ingredients, and a couple sample recipes for different types of fake blood.

Here’s something everyone will like: a history of masking tape. I’m sure all of you have looked at masking tape and wondered who invented it, and why. It was Richard Drew, and he wanted a tape to mask paint.

Tested stops by Frank Ippolito’s shop to see how he made sci-fi armor based off of a video game. This eight-and-a-half minute video shows how he took the 3D models in the game and turned them into patterns to cut out of foam sheets, followed by lots of gluing and painting.

Do you like making your own tools for your shop? Because Homemade Tools is filled with instructions and plans for a whole assortment of tools and jugs you can make yourself.

Review: Foamsmith, by Bill Doran

Anyone who reads this blog (or really, any blog about props) probably recognizes the name of Bill Doran. You’ve either marveled at his prop work over at Punished Props, watched his how-to videos, or followed his live chats with other prop makers.

One thing you pick up about him is how much he loves teaching and demonstrating everything he learns. Not only is he an enthusiastic teacher, but his knowledge comes tested from building countless costumes for numerous conventions, and regularly talking with other cosplayers. It’s a great recipe for making a book, and a book is exactly what he made.

Foamsmith is all about building a suit of armor out of EVA foam. He began with a series of e-books on different foamsmithing techniques, and has now collected them into a single print volume. Even if you’ve never worked with foam before, you can have a full suit of armor built by the time you’re done with this book.

Foamsmith by Bill Doran
Foamsmith by Bill Doran

The book is gorgeous. Full color pictures and easy-to-read layouts meet you on every page. Websites and e-books are certainly a great resource for learning how to make things, but there’s something about a physical book that makes the information so clear and accessible. Plus, you don’t have to worry about the words and pictures suddenly disappearing like when a website goes down.

Doran covers the basics, from patterning, cutting and shaping your foam, to carving, texturing and adding other details. He delves a lot into the specifics of wearing a full suit of armor, like designing it to be easy to take on and off, adding pockets to hide your cell phone, and making sure you can go to the bathroom while wearing it.

Even if you never intend to walk around a convention in a suit of sci-fi armor, this book still has a lot to offer. EVA foam is a wonderful material to build many things out of, and Doran has lots of specific tips and tricks for getting the most out of it. He has built entire props just from foam; I’ve used it for puppet-making in the past as well. His instructions on sealing and painting the foam are very useful, and his chapter on LEDs and wiring are helpful even if you are not working with foam at all.

If you’ve ever watched Doran’s videos, you know he has a cheeky sense of humor, and his personality is all over the book as well. You get the sense that this is a lot of fun for him, and he wants to share everything he knows with us so we can have fun too. It’s not distracting though; his instructions are clear, and he does a wonderful job of matching photographs to his text to further reinforce what he is describing.

I wish he had a few more photographs of his completed projects. He has a few, and I know you can find them online, but it would be nice for the book to show the culmination of his processes. The tutorials throughout the book show bits and pieces of some of the suits he built, and you just think, “wow, that little wrist gauntlet looks awesome, I wonder what the whole costume looked like?”

There are very few Bill Dorans in the world, and it is exciting to see him put his experience into book form. Prop making and cosplay still suffer from a lack of books and learning materials, so I’m glad to see more people contributing to this vast field.

Foamsmith is sold exclusively on the Punished Props website. It is 184 pages with over 400 color photographs.


Friday Props Roundup

Hi everyone. If you noticed a lack of posts this week, it was because I was in tech for our second show of the season at Triad Stage. And I bought a house and moved. And I have a newborn. But there’s still some cool props stuff this week:

New York Theatre Workshop has transformed its space for a unique production of Scenes From a Marriage. The New York Times is on the story of how director Ivo van Hove and his production designer Jan Versweyveld chopped the space into three rooms that audiences wander through in the first act, and then return to an amphitheater after intermission. Crazy. If those names sound familiar, it’s because I made a fake dead lamb for a previous production that van Hove and Versweyveld did at NYTW.

The Credits delves into the challenges of building massive sets on location in the upcoming film, The Maze Runner. They had to hire a snake wrangler just to get rid of the snakes on set. So many snakes.

For fans of Firefly, a user named Yellowjacket has created his own high-quality printable files of all sorts of paper props from the show.

Over on the RPF, Steven K. Smith has documented the construction of a very impressive suit of armor from the Dragon Age: Inquisition video game. The whole thing is made entirely of EVA foam with acrylic paint on top.

Finally, on a personal note, Ben Harris, the founder of the Alamance Makers Guild which I’m a member of, has a Kickstarter going. Ben makes science kits for kids, where you can make your own light bulb or telegraph and such. He’s raising money to make some more kits and even to help the Makers Guild find a permanent home.  So check it out if you like science and making stuff.