Tag Archives: video

Making a Breakable Glass

I’m props mastering a show called “Slave Shack”, at the Algonquin Theatre in the Gramercy Park area. One of the scenes calls for the actress to fling a scotch glass against the wall, where it breaks.

I decided to buy a number of thin glasses and spray them with Plasti-Dip. It’s a rubber coating which sprays on, and it comes in a variety of colors, including clear.

A glass smashed after sprayed with Plasti-Dip
A glass smashed after sprayed with Plasti-Dip

The rubber coating keeps the pieces of the glass together when it is smashed. If any pieces do break loose, they are not as sharp. I made a video to illustrate the process a lot more succinctly:

The obvious disadvantage of this method is that the glass ends up looking frosted. Also, you cannot use this method when you are breaking a bottle or glass over someone’s head. You can use it to coat glasses and bottles which are being thrown or dropped, but you should not have shards of glass, even coated in rubber, flying around an actor’s eyes and mouth.

The advantage? I bought three dozen (36) glasses for about $50 at a restaurant supply store. The Plasti-Dip is around $7-8 a bottle, and I only needed two bottles for this.

Smash Plastic, your other alternative, gives you a clear product, but it costs around $200 a gallon. You also need to make a mold (and buy molding supplies) and spend the time casting all of your glasses.

Sugar glass is great for films, but it degrades too quickly for theatre. Unless you want to be cooking up a fresh batch every night before the show for the next 2 weeks, or however long your show runs, it’s not a very viable alternative.

Glass dismissed!

Friday Link-topia

It’s been a busy week, and it’s going to be a busy month. Here’s another quick list of links I wanted to share, until I can find time to write something for reals.

  • Jesse Gaffney, a freelance props master in Chicago, has a new blog. Theatre Projects details the process behind some of his more challenging props projects. I’ve also added a link to the blogroll column on the side.
  • Art of Manliness has a wonderfully illustrated article on the various types of hammers and how to use them.  And if you’ve never been to the Art of Manliness before, take some time to look around; there’s a large archive of articles and forums to explore.
  • Popular Woodworking magazine has posted 3D models of some of the projects featured in their magazine. I don’t know if any of you props people ever use 3D to help you build, but if so, this is a great repository of early American furniture and workbenches.
  • Finally, if you have time, watch The Story of Stuff. It’s a 20 minute film showing how products go from raw materials to the store. It examines the social, environmental, and political aspects of production and consumption, but it’s also interesting for props people who are interested in objects and where they come from.

Mad Men Props

I love Mad Men. If you watch the show, you know it is just jam-packed with period details and an almost obsessive attention to detail. The show takes place in and around New York City in the early 1960s. For some people, this would be a prop master’s dream; for others, a nightmare.

For Gay Perello, it’s her job. Luckily for us, AMC has been posting regular featurettes on their website about the props on Mad Men:

They seem to be making one for every episode. You can see more at the AMC Video site for Mad Men.

The AMC Blog also had a Q&A with Ms. Perello last year during the second season. Also be sure to check out the Mad Men scrapbook for up-close photographs of some of the props.

Blood Sponges

We are in the midst of tech rehearsal for The Bacchae here at Shakespeare in the Park; next weekend, we begin preview performances already, and opening night is on August 24th. Needless to say, I’m a little distracted.

Here’s a quick little video showing some “blood sponges” we were working on with the body. You can read more about the body in my previous posts, a Body for Bacchae: Part One and Part Two. We glued some sponges to parts of the body. The idea was that they could be filled with fake blood before the performance. When the actress portraying Agave cradled the corpse, she could squeeze the part of the body with a sponge and have blood run down her hand on cue.