Meet Douriean Fletcher, Special Costume Manufacturer on Black Panther – If you haven’t seen Black Panther yet, you are missing out on a visual feast. Yes, the story and characters are very compelling, but just the props and costumes are worth the price of admission. Douriean Fletcher is a metalsmith with the Motion Picture Costumers union (IATSE 705) who created a lot of special costume pieces for the film, from jewelry pieces up to the full-metal armor of the Dora Milaje.
Let’s Talk About Sewing Machine Needles – Infographic – An oldie but a goodie. Sewing Parts Online has made a nifty little infographic to help guide you as you choose a needle for your sewing machine depending on what materials you are stitching. Of course, for it to be fully useful for a props person, you would also need to know which needle is good for sewing neoprene to lauan, but hey, it’s a start.
Inside Tony Winner Clint Ramos’s Creative Process – I promise this hasn’t turned into a costume blog while you weren’t looking. Clint Ramos is also a set designer and a friend of props shops all over, and it is fascinating to learn about his creative process. We should always celebrate when a backstage theatre worker is featured in such a fancy magazine as Town & Country.
How to Rivet Furniture Parts Together – In this riveting article, Christopher Schwartz guides us through how to use copper rivets to make pivoting furniture joints. Many of us are familiar with the pop rivet guns you can get at the hardware store, but here we learn how easy it is to use traditional riveting techniques.
Waldorf Astoria Archives – Buried behind the walls of this landmark NY hotel is a treasure trove of artifacts dating back to the hotel’s opening in the 1890’s. Some unknown person hoarded items like vintage postcards, menus, cocktail lists, ledgers, photographs, and bellhop uniforms. You have to visit the archives in person, but hopefully it will make its way online soon so we can use it in our research.
‘Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’: Props to the Prop Master – Yahoo! TV was invited to a show-and-tell of props from Agents of SHIELD hosted by prop master Scott Bauer. There’s some cool stuff in here if you are familiar with the show. And for the journalists out there: please stop using “Props to the Prop Master” as your title.
Book Review – Make: Props And Costume Armor By Shawn Thorsson – La Bricoleuse has a review of this long-anticipated book by Thorsson. You may have seen his work online, whether it’s the life-size ED-209 from Robocop or his giant Space Marine armor. Now he shares all his techniques in this highly polished book.
Up Your Game with the ‘Make Pretty’ – Christopher Schwartz shares one of his secrets to making good furniture. After the fabrication is complete, but before he begins finishing or painting, he takes a few hours at the top of the day to just go over the whole piece and sand or trim all the minor defects.
Batman V Superman comes out this weekend, and DC All Access has a look at the props. They visit prop master Douglas Harlocker, who shows us some of Batman’s weapons and talks about how their design came to be. You have to skip past about two and a half minutes of the ultra-bubbly hosts talking about upcoming comic books before you get to the props stuff.
Chris Schwartz shows how to make custom sanding sticks for smoothing the edges of really hard-to-reach places. I’ve also seen people buy those disposable nail files to achieve a similar goal.
I often neglect the fabric side of props on this blog, simply because it’s more challenging for me and I avoid fabric projects as much as possible. Of course, we props people need to develop all our skills, not just the ones we are interested in. So I’m sharing this video I found of a fabric project that even I can pull off: a no sew pillow. With just an iron, hem tape, an iron and a thrift store pillow, your set can have pillows that fit the design of whatever show you are doing.
David Neat starts us off with making smooth shapes from Styrofoam. He’s dealing with the real-deal Styrofoam here, not that white bead foam stuff. And sure, this article is over a year old, but it has some really useful techniques.
Bill Doran has a helpful video on adding rust to your props. Ninety percent of the time when I show a completed prop to a designer, they say, “that’s great… once we age it down a bit.” Knowing how to weather, age, distress or generally tone down props is an essential skill for a props person, and adding rust is one of the ways to do this.
Make Magazine takes a look at some Maker-Friendly hardware stores from around the US. It’s a fascinating look at the vast array of materials a store might choose to stock, as well as a sobering reminder of how awesome hardware stores used to be to those of us whose only local options are Lowes and Home Depot.
I covered some basic stitching for fabric in my Prop Building Guidebook, but if you get into embroidery and ornamental stitching, there is a whole other world of ways to manipulate needle and thread. Tipnut has some great vintage illustrations of ornamental borders and the basic stitches to make them happen. It’s a relaxing project for when you are bored in tech and the designer wants the napkins to be “fancier”.
Finally, here is an article called “The Most Important Lessons in Woodworking“. Robert Lang uses his experience cutting plugs as a lesson in woodworking in general, and I think this lesson can be expanded out to prop making in general. It’s not just about how to use specific tools or techniques, but how to approach your whole project in the most efficient and easiest manner possible.
Making and finding props for theatre, film, and hobbies