Tag Archives: vacuum forming

Irma Vep Chandelier

Triad Stage’s production of Irma Vep opened last Saturday. Anyone who has ever propped that show knows it has a ton of tricks and unique pieces. On top of all that, our production also had a massive Gothic ring chandelier. Our scenic designer, Robin Vest, drew a four-foot diameter chandelier with nine candles. I knew I would never be able to afford such a piece (even if I could find it), so it was off to the shop to construct it from scratch.

Steel frame
Steel frame

First up was the ring itself. I bent two bars of steel using my ring bender, and welded them into a single wheel connected by short rods of steel.

Vacuum forming bucks
Vacuum forming bucks

I needed some bobeches for under the candles and some scrollwork around the ring. I decided to fire up my new vacuum former for the first time and make all those pieces out of plastic. I already had some bobeches and a carved floral scroll-y piece that I was able to use as forms.

Formed plastic
Formed plastic

Each sheet of plastic fit one bobeche, one scroll piece, and one smaller bobeche for some sconces I was also altering. I pulled nine sheets, and then cut out all the pieces.

Wiring the lights
Wiring the lights

The candlestick holders were wooden pieces I picked up at the craft store. I attached them to the ring and then wired the whole thing together. The candelabra sockets had small tails of wire, so I wired three together, than ran some lamp cord up the chain to the center hanging piece. With nine candles, this meant I had three pieces of lamp cord running up the chains, and those three were wired together inside the center piece to another longer piece of lamp cord that the electricians could attach a plug to. The bulbs were 7 1/2 watts each, so the whole fixture was only 67.5 watts, which made lamp cord totally fine for this.

Painted pieces
Painted pieces

I spray painted all the plastic pieces before attaching them. Once everything was assembled, I drybrushed some bronze acrylic paint over the whole thing, and then it got some gold paint highlights.

Irma Vep chandelier
Irma Vep chandelier

It’s the spookiest, scariest chandelier ever!

Four Hot Prop Links

What’s the difference between Worbla and Wonderflex? Kamui Cosplay puts these low-melting thermoplastics through the ringer to find out how they differ. She also looks at lesser-known brands like Thibra and Cosplayflex.

BBC asks ten questions of Craig Williams, props master on Orphan Black. Find out what his favorite prop is and whether the crew plays pranks on each other. Oh, there’s a bit more useful information here too.

Ward Works builds a vacuum former and presents the whole step-by-step process with photographs. The whole thing was done for under $600, though you can save money if you have a lot of scrap around the shop.

Make has 11 hot glue tips, tricks and hacks. Most of these go outside the realm of normal hot glue usage. I especially like the one of using hot glue to glue your hot glue into your hot glue gun.

Friday Night Links

Happy Friday, everyone. It’s that time of year when summer seems to be winding down; summer theatres are getting down to their last few shows, schools are getting ready to start up, and busy props people are panicking that they haven’t taken a vacation yet. If you’re stuck inside on a computer, I hope these links will keep you busy for awhile:

The Credits has a great interview with Conor O’Sullivan, prosthetic supervisor for films and shows such as Saving Private Ryan, The Dark KnightGame of ThronesX-Men: First Class, and the upcoming Hercules. While the art and craft of prosthetic effects often gets all the press, this article delves into something just as important: the logistics and planning to get it all done. Putting a fake tattoo on an actor is far different than getting matching tattoos on 150 extras every morning in less than five hours.

Fon Davis shows you how to make your own vacuum forming machine in this video. While others have shown how to build cheap or free machines like this, Fon goes a step further and assembles a machine entirely out of found parts, modified with only a drill and some duct tape.

I needed to make some small translucent crystals for a project I’m working on, and the Arms, Armor and Awesome blog has a fantastic tutorial on how to cast gems out of clear resin (h/t to Propnomicon for the link).

The NYC Prop Summit just got a webpage. The Summit itself is typically held each year around August (this year it is August 22nd), where props people from in and around the New York City area get together to network, celebrate, and learn new things. They also have a Facebook group where members go for help or advice.

Mid-Week Links

Things have been hectic here in the Hart Household, and you may have noticed I’ve missed a few posts. So I am switching things up and posting a bunch of links on a Wednesday rather than a Friday. Here we go:

Chris Ubick has been the props master on dozens of films, such as The HelpPractical MagicMilk, and The Internship. Dianne Reber Hart has written a great article on her life and career which you should check out.

This article is a few years old, but worth mentioning: The Last Electronics Project I Completed. It’s a little deep and heavy at times (the author was building a fake bomb prop in lower Manhattan in early September of 2001) but it brings up some questions about the questionable legality of what we sometimes find ourselves building.

On a lighter note, here is how to force a patina on carbon steel. Short answer? Shove it in a lemon.

And finally, here is an interesting Instructable on assembling a vacuum-formed model. If you have tried vacuum-forming before, you will know that making the parts on the machine is just the beginning. You still have to trim, assemble and reinforce the parts to get a usable prop. This Instructable steps through some of those processes to make a fake ammo drum.

All Props Day

So it’s the day after Halloween, but most of my links today are for Halloween-related props, because that’s what everyone has been writing about for the last couple of weeks. Luckily, us props people can use some good fake blood advice any day of the year.

First up is fellow SPAM member Deb Morgan, props master at the Lyric Opera in Kansas City, showing us how to make some fake edible blood and a blood bag. It’s a basic recipe that most of us know, but it’s great to watch how the different ingredients affect the final product.

Next is another SPAM member Seán McArdle giving his local Fox News channel a show-and-tell of fantastic props he has built. Besides his own take on the blood bag, he’s got a really cool non-pyrotechnic gunshot effect for a musket.

Ed Edmunds makes monsters and effects for haunted houses, and created the animatronic electric chair prop that essentially transformed these rides from cheesy diversions to high-tech affairs. Check out his interview in Esquire Magazine to learn more.

Finally, check out this super-cool video where artist DiResta makes a quick vacuum-formed mask, going from clay sculpt, to plaster mold, to vacuum-forming, to paint: