Tag Archives: The Prop Building Guidebook

This Week I got a Book

So the big news this week is that I received my advance copy of The Prop Building Guidebook: For Theatre, Film, and TV.

The Prop Building Guidebook
The Prop Building Guidebook

I cannot wait for people to start reading this. It’s the culmination of several years’ work. It clocks in at around 380 pages, and has photographs, charts, and illustrations on nearly every single page.

But enough about me, let’s talk about what else you can read on the web this week:

The House of von Macramé is a new pop musical running at the Bushwick Starr. It’s about a killer who targets models during Fashion Week. Waldo Warshaw did all the blood effects, delivery systems and splatter choreography, which Erik Piepenburg at the New York Times presents to us in this great article and slideshow called “A Scream. A Splash. Send in the Mops“.

This is actually from a month ago, but the Smithsonian Institute has received production-used costumes and props from the Broadway production of Wicked for display in their National Museum of American History. I think more props belong in a museum.

Everybody knows Google Street View, right? Well they have some special galleries hidden in different places. One very cool one is the inside of Scott’s Hut in Antartica. It’s an exploration hut from 1911 which the cold has preserved perfectly. It makes for some really cool primary research. If that link doesn’t work, or if you want to see what other galleries they have, you can view all their collections.

Making a Plaster Mold

I have a new video up on the videos page of The Prop Building Guidebook website. This one deals with making a one-piece plaster box mold. Plaster is a cheap and relatively easy-to-work-with molding and casting material, and a one-piece box mold is one of the most basic types of molds to make. I feel a one-piece plaster box mold is one of the best introductions to mold making for those reasons. If you can pull it off, you’ll have more success as you move on to silicone rubber and other fancy mold-making materials.

So check out the video below, and don’t forget that I’ll have new videos up every week until my book comes out on February 26th.

Companion Videos for my Book

With less than seven weeks before the release of The Prop Building Guidebook: for Theatre, Film, and TV, I have begun adding videos to that website. These videos are meant to augment the content of the book, since some things are just easier to show in motion, rather than describe with text and pictures. I will be adding new videos every week until the book launches on February 13th.

So without further ado, I am proud to announce the brand-new Prop Building Guidebook companion video page. Only two videos are up at present; the first is on the vacuum former I built, which you probably remember from last autumn. The second has just been added today and shows you how to sculpt in oil-based clay. You can check it out below:

Keep on propping!

Last Links of Proptober

Whew! Crazy For You opened last night, so my wife and I can finally take a breath and return to normal life. I will post some pictures of the props once the show closes. I made a lot of fun items for that production: four tables (two with turned legs), 12 pink candlestick phones, a custom-sized player piano, an exploding cuckoo clock, a break-away sign, 3 benches, lots of signage and much more, not to mention tracking down all the normal everyday items and hand props they needed (did you know it’s illegal to sell deer antlers from local deer in North Carolina? Because I didn’t).

In other exciting news, I have received the electronic proofs for The Prop Building Guidebook. This is essentially an e-book showing exactly how all the text and photographs will be laid out. I have to go through every single sentence and check for typos, misprints and all other errors (such as making sure the photos have the correct captions). Once that’s done, those files go straight to the printers, and my book will be in your hands before you know it! It’s very exciting to actually see the book in it’s final form.

With that news out of the way, here are some links I’ve come across in the last week:

First, here is a nice little tutorial for making latex bladders. I’ve seen blood knives and similar effects where you store the blood in various squeeze bottles, but sometimes you need a custom-shaped bladder to fit inside; that’s where latex bladders come in handy.

Volpin Props has a new website, and it is pretty spectacular. Harrison Krix is one of the hottest independent prop makers working in replicas of video game props and other pop culture artifacts (he has also kindly provided some photographs for my book), and his website is a great showcase for his work.

The other heavy-hitter in the world of semi-professional replica prop making is Shawn Thorsson, and Make Magazine recently put together a slide show showing off his workshop.

Halloween is the time of year when many non-professionals try their hand at prop making. The American Scream is a new documentary showing the work of three “home haunters” who put together impressive haunted shows in their houses every year. The trailer looks like all kinds of wonderful.

I am back

It was quite a busy summer, between Shakespeare in the Park in New York City, the Santa Fe Opera and editing the final manuscript for my book (as well as a brief trip to Italy thrown in there). I will be posting photographs  in the coming weeks of some of the more interesting projects I have completed.

You may have noticed a slight redesign to this blog. I’ve been meaning to update it for awhile, and then the whole thing sort of crashed, so I had to rebuild it from scratch. I hope it’s a little cleaner and more straightforward than previously. I’ll probably be tweaking it as time goes on, but nothing major.

I now have a site up for my book at propbuildingguidebook.com. Don’t get too excited, as there is not too much there at the moment, but it does have the table of contents and the cover. Over the next few months, the team at Focal Press will be proofreading and editing the text as well as laying out all the photos and illustrations in the interior. I should be receiving a mock-up of all that in a few months, and once I check over and approve everything, it will be sent off to the printing presses, which will take another few weeks. If everything stays on schedule, it will be available to purchase next February. I will be filming some companion videos for the book, which may begin to appear on the site in the weeks leading up to the book’s release.

In case you missed it, I also had an article in the August issue of Stage Directions magazine. “Make Your Props Pop” looks at three different props built by the shops at the Actors Theatre of Louisville, Trinity Repertory Company and Paper Mâché Monkey. The last one was built for the current Broadway production of Peter and the Starcatcher. Interestingly, this article was originally supposed to run earlier in the Spring, but it was bumped to a later issue because of space restraints. In that time, Peter and the Starcatcher won Tony Awards in all its design categories, so I reworked some of the article to include that.