Tag Archives: glue

Four Findings for Friday

Ok, this isn’t props, it’s models, but still pretty cool. Tested has a long profile on Greg Jein, one of the main model makers on Close Encounters of the Third Kind, 1941, and Star Trek. Despite advances in CGI, he is still going strong, working on new films such as Interstellar.

Propnomicon has a great history of adhesive plaster, the fix-it-all tape used before duct tape was invented. Besides the history lesson, he has some great photos of vintage packaging for the plaster.

Korwin Briggs has put together this fun and educational infographic on the gross and deadly history of color. He reveals the origins of many popular coloring agents, such as mummy brown (made from ground-up mummies) and ultramarine (crushed-up gemstones).

Make has a great round-up of five wood gluing tips. I’ve done the ol’ “nail the boards together before gluing them trick” but always thought I was somehow cheating. It’s good to know it’s an actual technique used by others. Not that you can actually “cheat” in props. If it lasts until the show closes, then it’s a good technique.

Friday Link-o-Rama

I’m light on words this week because we are in the middle of tech for my first show at Triad Stage, but enjoy these links:

Set decorator Stephenie McMillan passed away this week. She got her start working on films in 1984, with her most notable credit as the set decorator on all eight Harry Potter films. Check out this interview with McMillan from last year to learn more about her work and her process.

If all the glues and adhesives out there are confusing to you, Design Sponge has an “adhesives 101” for you. It does a good job breaking down the major types of glues available and what they are useful for. Of course, you should always test the specific glue you want to use first, but this guide is helpful to give you a place to start.

Check out this massive behind-the-scenes photo gallery of the first Alien movie. The models and miniatures used on that film are incredible.

Kamui Cosplay has a detailed look at how she created some fantasy armor from World of Warcraft using Wonderflex, Worbla, Friendly Plastic, PVC and EVA foam.

Last Post of the Summer

I just wanted to let everyone know that this blog will be going on hiatus until August. I am working on editing my book right now, as well as driving to Santa Fe to work for a few weeks, followed by a quick trip to Italy. I figured this blog could take a break for a few weeks so I can spend as much time on my book as possible; you’ll thank me when it comes out.

So enjoy the following links until then:

The New York Times has an interesting article on prop maker Doug Wright. Wright just finished working on Tom Cruise’s codpiece for Rock of Ages. He works on the weird and completely unique props that pop up in TV and film every now and then.

The Washington Post ran an article about the fake vomit in Signature Theatre’s production of God of Carnage. If you are working on that show, prop master Aly Geisler gives away all her secrets.

Jesse Gaffney adds her two cents to the ongoing debate of whether to call yourself a props designer or a props master.

If you have ever wondered how to prep your wood joints for gluing, here is a pretty definitive answer on the subject. Short answer: the joints should be sanded smooth, but not polished.

Have a good summer, everyone!

A dead pheasant for King Lear

In our production of King Lear, which is in its last week of performances here at the Public Theater, one of the first props we knew we needed was a collection of dead animals for when the men return from hunting. I knew from doing Timon of Athens last winter that we had nothing in stock, no one in town had anything we could rent or borrow, and you can’t just go out and buy them, so I began trying to make a pheasant.

Developing a full-scale pattern
Developing a full-scale pattern

I began gathering research images and working out a pattern. I worked out the size by looking up average heights and lengths of pheasants, and from photographs where pheasants were next to people and other objects of known sizes. In retrospect, I should have looked at more pictures of dead pheasants; a pheasant has a really long neck. In most photographs of pheasants in action, the neck is contracted so the head appears close to the chest. When the pheasant is dead and hangs limp, the neck is actually a good five to six inches long. You can see I was drawing a bird with a contracted neck which left my dead pheasant looking stiffer than a real one. Ah well, now I know for the next time I have to build a dead pheasant.

Pinning and stitching the seams
Pinning and stitching the seams

Once I had the pattern, I cut pieces out of muslin and began stitching them together. I left one side open so I could fill it with sandbags for weight. Some of the stitching was a little sloppy, which was okay because the whole thing was going to be covered in feathers and small imperfections would be obscured. Continue reading A dead pheasant for King Lear