Tag Archives: plastic

Irma Vep Chandelier

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.

Steel frame
Steel frame

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.

Vacuum forming bucks
Vacuum forming bucks

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.

Formed plastic
Formed plastic

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.

Wiring the lights
Wiring the lights

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.

Painted pieces
Painted pieces

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.

Irma Vep chandelier
Irma Vep chandelier

It’s the spookiest, scariest chandelier ever!

Friday Links in September

Detached eyes, dead horses, and giant disco balls: The weird world of prop builder Seán McArdle – Seán tells City Pages how he made a horse fall over on cue and glued seashells to half a Volkswagen.

Prime and Smooth Props and Costumes with FlexBond – Rosco looks at a number of cosplayers using FlexBond to coat pieces constructed from Worbla.

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.

Working with EVA Foam for Costume Construction – Make Magazine has rounded up a number of videos and tutorials dealing with using EVA foam (or, more precisely, XLPE foam) to build armor and prop pieces.

Prop Shop Confidential

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.

Dorothy Thicket has put together this great reference chart for armor materials. It’s handy for all sorts of props, comparing the properties of materials like acrylic, EVA foam, Worbla, and more.

Eugene Lee recently received his 12th Emmy Nomination for Saturday Night Live, which he has been designing sets for since the first episode back in 1975. Crain’s talks with him about his career in TV and on stage.

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.

Links for a Long Weekend

Do you need a feather quill pen for a show? Lexey Jost has an Instructable showing how to make one that actually writes. Now you can keep your production of 1776 under budget.

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.

Many of us already saw this last week, but in case you missed it, that insane Mad Max flame-throwing guitar was no CGI trick. Find out how and why they constructed such a crazy practical effect.

Volpin Props has another great build log up. This time he made the Cael Hammer from the video game, BastionIt’s a mix of EVA foam, vacuum formed plastic and PVC. He’s got a lot of great little tips and tricks for shaping and painting these various materials.

“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.