The New Antiquarian has a lovely article on the small bookshop that helped the Mad Men props master find all the vintage books used in the show. The characters on the show read voraciously, so the team was constantly hunting down pristine first editions of the books most popular during the time period.
A gallery in LA put on a Guillermo Del Toro tribute show, and Cinema Fantasma made this amazing wooden automata inspired by Pan’s Labyrinth. Check out the video where they transform logs into an intricate moving sculpture.
The Hustle has an interesting article about the women who make a living doing cosplay. It delves into just how someone makes money by dressing up in costumes, and shows how constructing the costumes is just the first step. It reminds me a lot of the new generation of internet “superstar prop makers”, who have fan bases built around watching them work; the actual props are almost secondary, and are never really used in film, theatre or television.
Finally, The Roadbox has a humorous look at how Bosch is marketing their new battery-powered hot glue gun. I mean, the tool itself looks eminently useful, but hot gluing a chair together is the last thing you want to do.
It’s USITT time! For those of you at the conference, be sure to take time for “Arms and the Props Man,” a special presentation by the USITT Scene Design Commission. It’s toward the back, right before the Innovation Stage. You can see some incredible props in person (including a few of mine). Also be sure to visit the Society of Properties Artisan Managers booth at #1538. And, if you want, head on over to Focal Press at booth #1405 to check out my book. If you already have my book, just tell them how much you love it and you want me to write another one.
For those of us not at USITT, we need some fun prop things to read, so here we go:
Mad Men is counting down to its series finale, and the Museum of the Moving Image has an exhibit highlighting the show. The slideshow features some of the props and set pieces on display, as well as many of the costumes. This show was incredible from a props perspective, and these photographs show off all the incredible detail that went into it.
Somebody posted 142 photographs from the model shop of Blade Runner. Though the film is 33 years old, the craftsmanship of the miniature buildings and vehicles can put most modern CGI effects to shame.
WM Armory shows us how to cold cast with metal powders to make your plastic castings look like real metal. It’s a fairly simple process, and once you know the specifics of how it is done, you have a very effective way to make your props pop.
Finally, here is the entire 1982 JC Penney Christmas Catalog. Old catalogs are a boon for doing period research. Flickr is a great site to find them, since some people like to scan and post every page.
Next week I will be back in New York City building props for Shakespeare in the Park.
It’s been quite the week for props in the news. The first three stories all came from mainstream newspapers, and all four have been published in the last week!
Weapons Specialists are back in the news, and it looks like they have officially finished their name change to The Specialists Ltd. The New York Times just published an in-depth story on the history and future of this company, one of the premier weapons suppliers and fabricators for film, television and theatre on the East Coast.
The Guardian ran an excellent story this past week called “Time to give props to theatre props“. It talks about the vital role props play in many productions, and how most plays cannot be done without them. Of course, if you read this blog regularly, you already know all that; it’s nice to see a mainstream outlet acknowledge it, though.
The Huffington Post, meanwhile, has an interview with Ellen Freund, prop master for such shows as Mad Men. Are there a lot of props in that show?
Finally, DirecTV (?) interviews Jill Alexander, prop master on the show Damages. The interview gives a good sense of the hectic pace of working on a TV shoot.