Happy Winter Solstice, everybody! I will be taking off the next week or so for the holidays. Once the new year rolls around though, I’ll be having some pretty exciting stuff to post in the lead-up to my new book (coming February 26th). Until then, enjoy these links:
I recently came across a forum called The Effects Lab. It is meant for special makeup effects, mask making and creature design, and has a fairly active community of people discussing sculpture, animatronics, casting and other skills useful to many types of prop makers.
Wired has an article and first in a series of videos on DIY mold-making; making molds with silicon rubber and casting in plastic resin is commonly used in props shops, and these videos are a pretty straight-forward guide to getting started. Of course, the whole “doing it in your house where you and your kids eat and sleep” is questionable in safety terms.
S*P*A*M (The Society of Properties Artisan Managers) is a group of theatrical prop managers, directors, and educators throughout the United States. If there is a larger prop shop in a regional, non-profit, or university theater, chances are the prop master is a member of S*P*A*M.
Over the weekend, they relaunched their S*P*A*M website to include a lot of useful information about who they are and what they do. Readers of this site will be familiar with the Properties Director Handbook, which was written by Sandra Strawn (a member of S*P*A*M) and includes information and photographs from a variety of other S*P*A*M members. The PropPeople discussion forum is another resource that was initially set up by S*P*A*M members. And of course, yours truly is a member.
Of greatest interest for now is the list of props internships they provide. If you were interested in learning how to work in props through an internship, this is where you will find a shop. While there may be other companies who offer internships, you run the risk of working somewhere that uses interns as free labor and impart no educational value; working long hours for little pay in a theatrical setting is not the same as learning a craft. In addition, the companies in this list are the companies that are recognized throughout the country and will help you with future employment.
Cosplay means dressing up and role-playing as fictional characters. It’s most popular in Japan, with cosplayers dressing as anime characters. However, it is also present throughout the world and involves characters from science-fiction, fantasy, and history as well. It can be extended to Renaissance Faire participants, or even Civil War reenacters.
As such, websites focused on these communities have a plethora of information on making DIY armor, swords, and other weapons.
Here is a collection of props and armor tutorials from one such forum. There are tutorials on working in fiberglass, polystyrene, foam, and vinyl.