The following comes from a 1915 book called “Costumes and Scenery for Amateurs”. I published the first portion of the chapter on props way back in 2009. Here, without further delay, is the conclusion.
Stimulate initiative and invention wherever possible. A round collar box is only a collar box until you use it for an earthen bowl. A white cardboard shoe box is cut down a little, covered with black tissue paper, has a little yellow pane inserted in each side, and a curtain ring for a handle. Behold a lantern for a Yankee minute-man, or Paul Revere, or anyone else who wants to use it.
Remarkable stage furniture can be made from wooden boxes of all sizes. A packing case makes a dais. Several boxes nailed together and stained brown will make a peasant’s cupboard.
Three boxes nailed together like this |¯| will make a hearth. If it is to be a mediæval or fairy tale hearth, cover it with cheap gray cambric, bulked to look like stone, and marked with splotches of white and brown chalk. Be sure you turn the unglazed side of the cambric outward. Use chalk because paint will not show up well on cambric. A brick fireplace for a modern scene can be made in the same way, covering the boxes with brick chimney paper than can be bought at Dennison’s Tissue Paper Co., Boston, Chicago, or New York. One of their catalogues will prove invaluable to directors living in the country. A narrow box on rockers, stained brown, becomes a Puritan or eighteenth century cradle. Gilded and hooded it is the cradle of a royal Princess. Couch seats can be made from boxes, only be sure that they are secure.
Originally published in “Costumes and Scenery for Amateurs”, by Constance D’Arcy Mackay, 1915 (pp 95-96)
This is the fourth excerpt from a chapter concerning prop-making in “Shakespeare for Community Players”, by Roy Mitchell. Be sure to check out the previous parts on weapons, tableware, and furniture.
Lanterns should be made of soft tin and riveted into shape. It is possible to buy lanterns, but it is more fun to make them.
Figure 17 shows some types of lanterns as well as torch-sticks. Floor candlesticks, which are universally useful for all types of interiors, may be made up of curtain-pole set on a foot or held erect with a tripod. A small tin pan makes an excellent drip-cup. A method of simulating massive candles is given in the chapter on lighting. Smaller candelabra may be of wooden lattice-work in a variety of forms, or of round wood held together with cross-bars (see Figures 14 and 18).
Another method is to make a grill out of wall-board reinforced with wooden battens. The best single candlestick is part of a baluster nailed to a square base. The candle goes in a hole bored in the top. A nail-point sticking up in the bottom of the orifice will give stability to the candle. If you have occasion to make or use Greek lamps, do not trouble with oil. Use tapers adjusted to last for the scene, or a bit of candle inset.
Figure 19 shows a lantern and a pole to be carried in lieu of torches. It is made of draughtsman’s linen stretched Chinese-lantern fashion on a wooden frame. The frame may be made of heavy iron wire if desired, and many beautiful forms achieved. The design may be applied in coloured ink such as draughtsmen use.