Tag Archives: techniques

On Making Things

One of the first objects I can recall making out of wood was a letter “E” that you hang on the wall. I was about 11 or 12, and it was one of my projects in junior high shop class. I traced the shape onto a piece of pine, and cut it out on the bandsaw. My shop teacher remarked on how neatly and precisely I followed the pencil line on the saw. I should have known than that carpentry would be an integral part of my vocation. I nailed a hanging bracket on the back so it could be placed on a wall, and finished it off by coating the whole thing in epoxy (with some assistance from the teacher).

I distinctly remember the feeling of pride and astonishment I felt after the “E” was finished. Here was an item you can buy in a store, but I had made it. It was like I had unlocked a small part of the great mystery of where objects come from.

That feeling followed me as I learned new techniques and worked with new materials. Every time I was introduced to a new tool in carpentry, it was as though I was delving deeper into the mysteries of furniture. It was as if I could look at a table or chair and it would wink back at me as if to say, “you know how I was made”. When I began to learn how to work with metal and weld, it was as if a whole floodgate of knowledge was opened to me as well. Objects fell apart before my eyes into their component parts and the techniques it took to put them together.

Every new skill or technique I pick up adds to my arsenal of making things. Every project is an opportunity to apply or try out a myriad of processes and materials. Making things isn’t just a way to create objects with custom properties and parameters; it’s a way for me to be in control of objects, rather than objects being in control of me.

Monday Link Busters

Here are some sites and other things I’ve run across lately.

  • Curbly looks like it has a lot to offer, such as this article on how to antique paper.
  • Sugru shows some promise as a useful material for props. It looks like it’s similar to epoxy putty, in that it can be used as both a filler and an adhesive. The difference is that Sugru air-cures, rather than having a separate hardener, and it remains flexible, so it can be used on items like textiles. If only I could get my hands on a sample for testing…
  • Amateur woodworker has a quick rundown on distressing wood. They add some neat tricks to the repertoire of techniques, such as adding cup rings.
  • Finally, the costume design blog has a post about putting together a design portfolio. Though aimed toward costume designers (obviously), it is still very applicable to the props artisan.

Monday Link-O-Rama

I didn’t do a Friday link-o-rama, so here’s one for Monday. Hopefully I will be back to writing more better articles once we get out of tech for Bacchae.

  • Flower Power – The McCarter Theatre has to clean the uncleanable. Read about their solution.
  • Theatre on a Shoestring – A number of how-to articles on prop making, such as fake cigars, hefty chain, and sugar glass.
  • Model-Making Techniques – David Neat discusses tips and techniques for making scene design models. A lot of this info is also great for prop making.
  • Master of the Movie Prop – An interview with Kevin Hughes, the prop master for films such as Borat, Freddy Got Fingered and Boogie Nights.