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.
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.
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.
I really like this illustrated chart of hand tools over at Popular Mechanics. The chart itself is good-looking enough to hang up in your shop, while the tools pictured on it give you a great idea of what your shop is missing.
If you have ten minutes, you should check out this video showing the creation of HBO’s intro sequence from the early 1980s. The video is from 1983 as well, and has a great vintage feel. It is fascinating to see the creation of one of the largest scale model cityscapes at the time. Props people are sure to recognize many of the techniques used by these model makers (though the three-month time frame they had to build it seems luxurious for most of us). The creation of the rest of the effects are interesting as well. While this occurred in the heyday of motion-controlled cameras, those were the only systems using computers. Everything else was created by hand, and every effect was achieved with an analog solution.
Making and finding props for theatre, film, and hobbies