Triad Stage’s production of Irma Vep opened last Saturday. Anyone who has ever propped that show knows it has a ton of tricks and unique pieces. On top of all that, our production also had a massive Gothic ring chandelier. Our scenic designer, Robin Vest, drew a four-foot diameter chandelier with nine candles. I knew I would never be able to afford such a piece (even if I could find it), so it was off to the shop to construct it from scratch.
First up was the ring itself. I bent two bars of steel using my ring bender, and welded them into a single wheel connected by short rods of steel.
I needed some bobeches for under the candles and some scrollwork around the ring. I decided to fire up my new vacuum former for the first time and make all those pieces out of plastic. I already had some bobeches and a carved floral scroll-y piece that I was able to use as forms.
Each sheet of plastic fit one bobeche, one scroll piece, and one smaller bobeche for some sconces I was also altering. I pulled nine sheets, and then cut out all the pieces.
The candlestick holders were wooden pieces I picked up at the craft store. I attached them to the ring and then wired the whole thing together. The candelabra sockets had small tails of wire, so I wired three together, than ran some lamp cord up the chain to the center hanging piece. With nine candles, this meant I had three pieces of lamp cord running up the chains, and those three were wired together inside the center piece to another longer piece of lamp cord that the electricians could attach a plug to. The bulbs were 7 1/2 watts each, so the whole fixture was only 67.5 watts, which made lamp cord totally fine for this.
I spray painted all the plastic pieces before attaching them. Once everything was assembled, I drybrushed some bronze acrylic paint over the whole thing, and then it got some gold paint highlights.
Corporeal Intangibility – The Alley Theatre made custom acrylic furniture and props for their production of The Nether, including a gramophone and a rocking horse. This was clearly an interesting project.
More Stranger Things! More Stranger Things! People are in love with the show and want to know more about the props. This week, we have two podcasts that talk with props master Lynda Reiss. First is a short 7:40 interview on CBC Radio. Second is an hour-long episode of Pop Culture Confidential with both Reiss and Shannon Purser, the actress who plays Barb.
Variety has a special feature on “Artisans So White”; while a lot of attention is paid to the diversity of directors, actors, and writers on films, the below-the-line craftspeople and technicians remain overwhelmingly white and male. Though this article deals with film, the same trends can be found in theatre. They even include a quote from Clint Ramos, a costume/set designer familiar to many in the theatrical world. It’s a thorny issue to deal with, and part of the problem is that so much hiring at companies is done informally, with jobs going to friends and acquaintances of people already working there.
Buzzfeed(?) has a collection of diagrams to help you decorate your home. They have everything from antique chair back styles, to common furniture sizes, to the names of lampshade fittings. Most of us prop masters have a collection of diagrams like this to help in decorating a set, so here’s a chance to grab a few more.
“Do not let artisans discourage you from learning this or that trade because they have not made a success of it. They may tell you that a certain trade is overcrowded. Investigate a little and you will find that only the botch workman and chronic kickers are out of work. The cheerful, enthusiastic workman is idle only when misfortune overtakes the whole country.” Read more from this 1888 article on workmen over at the Lost Art Press Blog.
Making and finding props for theatre, film, and hobbies