Thursday, October 1, 2009

Elizabethan Settee

For the Castle of Otranto we came across a piece of furniture we needed that didn't seem to exist. A wounded man is brought to the castle and in the next scene he is being tended to in the chapel. We needed him to be laying on a chaise or couch, but also wanted the piece of furniture to look somewhat logical in a family chapel.
I came across this image of a jacobean sofa in my research and we decided to adapt it. We decided that by mirroring the raised arm on the opposite end, the sofa would look much more like it was intended for sitting instead of lounging and therefore be appropriate for a family chapel, while still looking comfortable when the actor was using it to lounge.
The legs and turned arm supports are available at Home depot with outdoor decking lumber and the detailing on the stretchers was a cut-off of some dollar-store plastic garden-edging fence pieces. The fabric was a remnant I bought at LZ fabics in Chicago.
The frame of the seat is 2x2 with supports every foot, and a 3/8 ply lid, which makes the whole thing very light but still sturdy enough. The design of the original sofa is inherently weak, in order to better support an actor laying against it I made the cushions in between the turned supports rigid and I added the small braces to the back of the rests for support.

-If you are in the Chicago area and have never been to LZ fabrics, go. It is located at 2121 21st street and as one friend described it "it's like Harry Potter and the Fabric warehouse!"
-When building furniture I like to designate it as "sittable, standable or dancable" to directors and stage managers. I find it communicates the appropriate uses for the pieces with minimal grey area.


  1. Great props blog!

    One note- Elizabethan and Jacobean are two different periods. Elizabethan being under QE1's rule and Jacobean being under JamesI/IV.

  2. Thanks Liz. You're right of course, Elizabethan and Jacobean are very different periods. For this production period accuracy was much more loosely defined and that this sofa fit what we wanted.