Tag Archives: Tom Fiocchi

I’ll take “Swords” for $100

Three-quarter hilt rapier made by Eric Hart
Three-quarter hilt rapier made by Eric Hart

Let’s face it. Swords are cool. Luckily for props people, swords pop up all the time on prop lists.

I learned some basic swordmaking techniques from Tom Fiocchi while at Ohio University. Usually, when I’m asked to make a sword, it’s a decorative or trick sword with a very show-specific look. If it’s for stage combat, the swords are often rented or pulled from stock. For Twelfth Night at Shakespeare in the Park, we rented many of the swords from Weapon Specialists here in New York City (hopefully I’ll be doing a tour of them in the upcoming weeks).

Old Swords has a wealth of information on historic swords. There is a gallery of swords categorized by nationality and time period, as well as a comprehensive search function of their database. The site also includes a cornucopia of resources, articles, and links about antique swords, sword makers, and anything else you may need for research and reference. You need to sign up to access the information, but it’s free, quick and well worth it.

The Wikipedia article on Historical European martial arts is a great jumping-off point for information on historical sword-fighting techniques. The Mid-Atlantic Society for Historic Swordsmanship also has a great list of links for all things related to historic swordsmanship, as does William Wilson’s list of links on historical fencing.

The Association for Renaissance Martial Arts also has an introduction to Historical European Martial Arts at their site. They also have a large reading and research list, including online historical fencing manuals. If you scroll to the bottom, you will find two manuals by Alfred Hutton, who helped begin the revival of historical swordsmanship over 120 years ago. Old Swordplay (5.54mb PDF) and Cold Steel (11.1mb PDF) are both available for free on their site.

If there are any other sites or resources you use for swords or similar weapons, let me know in the comments!

Prop People across the news

A few weeks ago, at the SETC Theatre Symposium, I met Ron DeMarco, the props director at Emerson University.  He gave me a ton of material he’s collected over the years to use in his class on props. Today, I’m going to point to some of the many news articles he’s found on various props people across the country. I always like reading these because they offer different perspectives on how props people work and think about their craft.

Tom Fiocchi

Tom is the props director at Ohio University, where I spent a brief stint doing graduate work. I worked in his shop a few semesters, and took a class where I built a sword. This article, “Theater props specialist has a thing about Athens“, delves a bit into how he got started as a props artisan. His website has more information about his custom stage combat weapons.

Liza Kindl

Liza also attended Ohio University at the same time as me, and we also worked at the Santa Fe Opera together a few times. “Top of the Props” talks about the beginning of her career as a props artisan.

Sandra Strawn

Strawn teaches props at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. You may recognize her name from the Properties Director Handbook. “UWM Theater Students Learn Their Way Around the Prop Shop” provides a look at her class on properties construction.

Amy Reiner

Reiner has been the props director at Omaha Community Playhouse for the past 8 years. “Theater props master finds something old, something odd” is a look at the endless scavenger hunt that a props person lives in. It also has an interesting sidebar asking other prop masters what the most difficult item they’ve ever had to find was. The first one mentions the iron lung from “City of Angels,” which is one of the props Ron mentioned as a perennially difficult item to acquire.