Here is a pretty cool step-by-step guide to a Dragonbone dagger replica made by Folkenstal. Folkenstal uses some interesting techniques of laying up different thicknesses of plastic to create a rough block, and then sanding and cutting it to the final shape. Great photographs.
Furoshiki is the Japanese art of wrapping objects with cloth. The Japanese Minister of Ecology is encouraging the country to useÂ furoshiki to carry the products they purchase, rather than paper or plastic bags. They’ve even made a handy chart showing how to wrap various-shaped objects. I can imagine this coming in handy for all sorts of prop purposes.
Finally, Tested brings us this sixteen-minute tour through Harrison Krix’s garage, better know as the Volpin Props prop shop. We get to see his small but well-equipped shop, check out some of his favorite tools, and get a sample of some of the many cool props he has built over the years.
La Bricoleuse has been doing some interesting documentation of the armor that was rented for PlayMaker Rep’s upcoming repertory productions of Henry IVÂ and Henry VÂ (the same shows I just worked on). This post, for example, looks at photos of various pieces and annotates the choices made in their construction, describing what she likes (and what she doesn’t).
I am currently in the desert of Arizona. It’s time for another S*P*A*M conference, and this year, our hosts are Childsplay Theatre. I will report on all things of interest sometime later next week. For now, enjoy these sites of interest from the comfort of your own home.
Rich Dionne tackles the many methods for making a budget estimate in theatre. I discovered I use a mix of these methods when I deal with the fuzzy world of estimating the costs of props for a show.
In an earlier issue of their magazine, Make published a primer on working with carbon fiber (aka graphite fiber). They have now posted the entire article for free on their website.
This is interesting: why are there no guns in MoMA? It’s a podcast looking at the role of design in guns. What I found fascinating is how the manufacturing of guns is what really began the standardization of parts and machines in the industrial age. Despite their role and importance in modern life, museums of design like MoMA do not display any guns.
Kabuki is a traditional form of theatre in Japan which began around four hundred years ago. It is a highly stylized form of theatre, and its use of props is very formalized and full of tradition. I thought it would be interesting to take a look at how they use and make props in Kabuki. I don’t speak or read Japanese, so while I took care to double and triple-check all the terminology, someone moreÂ knowledgeableÂ than I may still find mistakes. Still, I hope you’ll find what follows to be a good overview of props in Kabuki theatre.
The word for props is å°é“å…·, or kodÅgu. Kabuki distinguishes between different categories of props just like those of us in English-speaking countries. If you need a refresher, check out my article on the different categories of props, as well as an illustration of these categories. Hand props are calledÂ æŒã¡é“å…·, orÂ mochidÅgu.Â MochidÅgu include accessories, swords and other weapons, fans and armor (or yoroi); basically, everything which is portable. Set props, such as furniture, set dressing and other items left on stage for the duration of the performance, are known as dedÅgu. Large props are named å¤§é“å…·, or ÅdÅgu. In the US, we would considerÂ ÅdÅgu to be scenery; indeed, the Japanese treat it as a separate department as well, with different technicians involved, so we will not spend any more time on it here.
Props which are used up at each performance (consumables and food) are called kiemono. Props which are broken and destroyed each performance are kowaremono.Â Vehicles and portable shrines are known asÂ norimono. Rigged and trick props are calledÂ shikake, or shikake mono. A great example of a shikake mono isÂ a branding iron with a button-activated electric filament which ignites a match head to produce a puff of smoke. Red paint on the iron also serves to leave a red mark on the actor being branded (McNicol 33).Â Kabuki also considers several other items to fall under the realm of props, such as animal costumes (nuigurumi), footgear (hakimono) and headgear. Unlike in the US,Â snow, snowflakes and artificial blossoms (tsuri eda) are responsibility of ÅdÅgu, rather than the prop makers (Scott 155).