How to Slush Cast a Prop Helmet – Tested visits Frank Ippolito to learn how to slush cast the Rocketeer helmet, which is perhaps the greatest helmet in cinematic history.
‘She Loves Me:’ David Rockwell Serves Up Old World Flavor with Modern Flair – She Loves Me snagged the Tony for Best Set Design of a Musical, preventing Hamilton from a clean sweep. Find out all the details and dressing that go into this amazing set for a show with horrible music.
New York Spectacular Statue: New York Public Library Lions – Matt Acheson tells us how he brought the NYPL lions to life (in puppet form) for The Rockettes latest show.
Make Edible Paper in 3 Easy Steps – I haven’t tried this recipe yet, but edible paper is one of those prop things that come up from time to time. Sure, you can buy it, but if you need a custom color or size, this may be the way to go.
This was a tough week for many of us. For some inspiring news, check out how the Orlando theatre community is helping protect the Pulse funerals from anti-gay protesters.
Cinefex has a great story on the giant puppets used in Tremors 4. And if you’re thinking, “There were four Tremors films?” you’re actually wrong; there were five Tremors films and a TV series.
Make Magazine continues bringing the great shop tips with these 5 Head-Slappingly Good Shop Tips and Build Tricks. I really like the idea of using a caulking gun as a clamp.
Here’s something that has me really excited: T-shirt brushes for shellac and oil finishes. This is the last step in the life cycle of a T-shirt for a props person: Good Shirt->Work Shirt->Paint Shirt->Shellac Rag.
Great Big Story has a wonderful audio story on Stephen Kesler, a sculptor who makes life-size whales and other animals for museums.
The current issue of Stage Directions has a nice piece on creating distressed surfaces for Arizona Theatre Company’s Fences. Sure, it’s scenery, but who doesn’t like a good aged brick?
Finally, in more sad news, designer Desmond Heeley passed away last Friday. His set and costume designs have been appearing on Broadway since the 1950s.
Bill Doran shows us how to mold and cast tiny parts, which often have their own set of challenges distinct from molding larger pieces. One word: bubbles.
Modern-Day Gepettos Keep Marionette Making Alive – Make Magazine introduces us to Mirek Trejtnar, a puppet-maker who not only carefully researches traditional methods of building marionettes, but shares his techniques on his blog.
Most explosive squibs used on film sets contain lead, which spreads lead all over the film crew. A new report highlights the potential dangers and asks if your film crew is being poisoned. It came to no surprise to me that Monona Rossol was behind this report; she often appears to be solely responsible for pointing out the toxic dangers hidden in the entertainment industry. Many of us have learned safer practices either from one of her classes or from her essential book, The Health and Safety Guide for Film, TV, and Theater.
Propnomicon points out that the New York Public Library has a great collection on old apartment buildings. They have detailed floor plans from the early Twentieth Century, as well as common plumbing and bathroom fixtures. It’s great research for any play from this time period.
Puppets are still very much a thing, according to this American Theatre article. Scott Cummings checks in on some of the companies, festivals, and books dealing with puppetry in a contemporary context.
The costume shop at PlayMakers Rep is working on the enviable task of recreating costumes for the Museum of Science Fiction. Rachel Pollock takes us through the steps of making Neo’s costume from The Matrix.
Popular Woodworking magazine brings us this awesome process for faking antique wood. It uses just paint, lacquer and a heat gun. No crazy chemicals or stains needed!
Propnomicon shows us some great primary research on “Things in a Jar”. If you’ve ever made preserved specimens, Britta Miller works at a museum specimen collection, and has kindly shared all kinds of visual and technical details about the actual jarring and labeling of things in jars.
Finally, Make Magazine shares top tips from 17 amazing makers. I wanted to point out one quote that many of us props people can relate to:
“He was giving the interviewer a tour of his shop, showing the towering shelves of carefully-sorted industrial junk. He said something like, ‘Properly sorted, this is a parts library and a useful tool. Unsorted, and it’s a pile of junk and a curse.'”
Cinefex has a very awesome and very thorough look at the use of puppets in cinema. They cover the history from 1906’s The Witch all the way up to Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The article also features interviews with a whole bunch of practical effects artists using puppets in film.
“Once you have the basic set of tools and know how to use them, your work will dictate the specialty tools you might need.” Chris Schwartz reminds us that the most common tools are the most useful. Rare tools are rare either because they are commercial failures or they have highly specialized uses. When buying your tools, be sure you have the ability to do the tasks you do on a daily or weekly basis before you buy the tools that you will only use once a year.
The New York Times takes us backstage at the Metropolitan Opera in this fantastic photo essay showing the lead up to the first performance of Roberto Devereux.
The Daily Record takes a glimpse into the props stock at Central Washington University. They talk with David Barnett, who runs the stock and props the shows, as well as Marc Haniuk, who teaches a props class every year.
Yahoo TV talks with John Sanders, prop master on The Walking Dead, to learn more about Daryl Dixon’s motorcycle on the show. They claim it’s “everything you need to know”; I don’t know if that’s true, but it’s certainly all you could possibly care to know.