Stormbreaker – Avengers: Infinity War – MAN AT ARMS: REFORGED – If you’ve seen the new Avengers film, you know that Thor gets a pretty awesome new axe. And if you watch “Man at Arms”, you know they forge famous pop culture weapons from real steel. So buckle up as the team at Baltimore Knife Company fabricates this mythological axe/hammer combo fit for a god.
Hong Kong Court Convicts Props Master for Possession of Fake Cash – A judge in Hong Kong has convicted two film crew members for possession of fake cash from a film. Though the bills were clearly labeled as film props, and were not even attempted to be used as real currency, the crew members were still given prison sentences. This is a chilling verdict for members of the Hong Kong film industry, which is seeing more and more interference from the Chinese government.
“Costume-making Is Dying. We Can’t Get the Skills.” – The head of costumes at the Royal Opera House in London is finding it hard to staff her shop with skilled artisans. I have heard similar rumblings in the world of props. Despite the rise in hobbyist prop makers, actual professional positions are getting harder to fill. Do we, as an industry, have an obligation to train the next generation of prop artisans?
An Award For The Best Prop? – Aurelie Gandilhon asks why there is no category in any of the major performing arts awards for best prop.
New Behind The Scenes Look At The Art And Practical Effects Of ‘Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom’! – Check out all these photos and video of the animatronic dinosaurs used in the new Jurassic World films. Even though they do a lot of CGI replacement for the final film, they still build full-scale dinosaurs for filming.
Meet Douriean Fletcher, Special Costume Manufacturer on Black Panther – If you haven’t seen Black Panther yet, you are missing out on a visual feast. Yes, the story and characters are very compelling, but just the props and costumes are worth the price of admission. Douriean Fletcher is a metalsmith with the Motion Picture Costumers union (IATSE 705) who created a lot of special costume pieces for the film, from jewelry pieces up to the full-metal armor of the Dora Milaje.
Let’s Talk About Sewing Machine Needles – Infographic – An oldie but a goodie. Sewing Parts Online has made a nifty little infographic to help guide you as you choose a needle for your sewing machine depending on what materials you are stitching. Of course, for it to be fully useful for a props person, you would also need to know which needle is good for sewing neoprene to lauan, but hey, it’s a start.
Inside Tony Winner Clint Ramos’s Creative Process – I promise this hasn’t turned into a costume blog while you weren’t looking. Clint Ramos is also a set designer and a friend of props shops all over, and it is fascinating to learn about his creative process. We should always celebrate when a backstage theatre worker is featured in such a fancy magazine as Town & Country.
How to Rivet Furniture Parts Together – In this riveting article, Christopher Schwartz guides us through how to use copper rivets to make pivoting furniture joints. Many of us are familiar with the pop rivet guns you can get at the hardware store, but here we learn how easy it is to use traditional riveting techniques.
Waldorf Astoria Archives – Buried behind the walls of this landmark NY hotel is a treasure trove of artifacts dating back to the hotel’s opening in the 1890’s. Some unknown person hoarded items like vintage postcards, menus, cocktail lists, ledgers, photographs, and bellhop uniforms. You have to visit the archives in person, but hopefully it will make its way online soon so we can use it in our research.
But Will It Wash Off… – I forgot to post this when it first came out, but Jay Duckworth and Alex Wylie needed some spray paint that would wash off. During The Public Theater’s production of Julius Caesar, they had a scene where the protesting crowd added graffiti to posters of Caesar; of course, it needed to be removed for the next performance. Yes, that’s the same production that faced heckling and interruptions this summer.
If You’re Going to Copy Broadway Show Design, Don’t Brag About It – A lot of theaters, particularly universities and community theaters, do not seem to be aware that copying the set design of a Broadway show is unethical and often illegal. Christopher Peterson breaks down the issues involved and highlights one recent example that garnered a bit of publicity.
Learn to ‘Sharpen This’ – or Any Other Tool – Chris Schwartz points us to some upcoming events by Lie-Nielsen where they will show you how to sharpen your woodworking tools for free (there’s one in NYC in November). He also links to his whole “Sharpen This” series, where he gives tips, tricks and advice for sharpening; this is a seemingly simple task, but you will find tons of conflicting and arcane information about it online.
Tony Winner Clint Ramos Previews His Shakespeare in the Park A Midsummer Night’s Dream Costumes – Ok, this isn’t really a “preview” anymore since the show has closed, but for you costume fans, this is a great glimpse at Ramos’ renderings.
Puppets are still very much a thing, according to this American Theatre article. Scott Cummings checks in on some of the companies, festivals, and books dealing with puppetry in a contemporary context.
The costume shop at PlayMakers Rep is working on the enviable task of recreating costumes for the Museum of Science Fiction. Rachel Pollock takes us through the steps of making Neo’s costume from The Matrix.
Popular Woodworking magazine brings us this awesome process for faking antique wood. It uses just paint, lacquer and a heat gun. No crazy chemicals or stains needed!
Propnomicon shows us some great primary research on “Things in a Jar”. If you’ve ever made preserved specimens, Britta Miller works at a museum specimen collection, and has kindly shared all kinds of visual and technical details about the actual jarring and labeling of things in jars.
Finally, Make Magazine shares top tips from 17 amazing makers. I wanted to point out one quote that many of us props people can relate to:
“He was giving the interviewer a tour of his shop, showing the towering shelves of carefully-sorted industrial junk. He said something like, ‘Properly sorted, this is a parts library and a useful tool. Unsorted, and it’s a pile of junk and a curse.'”
What a cool job! Artslandia Kids has this fun infographic with John Ellingson, props master for Northwest Children’s Theater.
Oh no, only one week until Halloween. Quick, make some demon horns out of upholstery foam and paper towels!
Popular Woodworking Magazine has a short tutorial on creating a 3D Sketchup model from a photograph. In this case, it’s a photograph taken at an angle, which is less than ideal for getting measurements.
Make Magazine has a tutorial on making giant inflatable plastic tentacles. They use plastic welding, which is a technique I’ve always wanted to try but have never gotten around to.
Finally, take a look at these twenty or so weird and awesome helmets from throughout history. Look at them!