Monday, January 25, 2010

Zulu Warrior Sheild

I'm working on a show right now called "The DNA Trail" at Silk Road Theatre Project and I'm really excited for it, first because I think it's going to be a good show, but second, and most important for this blog, there are some really fun props projects involved. 

The first project is this Zulu Warrior sheild (matching spear yet to come). Out of several options I showed the director and designer, they liked the shape and style of this one best. 

I bought one yard of a fake leather/vinyl and doubled it with a piece of  posterboard laminated between to give it some stability. I was worried about it being too rigid, as many of the images I looked at showed that the leather had a flexible wavy look to it. I clearly over compensated. Even with heavy stitching around the sides, and a coat of glue on the back, it was still far too flexible. If I were to do it again I would buy a yard of a fusible (read "iron-on") stableizer from the fabric store to go between the leather layers. 

The stick I used was just a cheap broomstick I bought at the hardware store. I roughed it up and made it look much more natural by using my draw knife.  I don't see many draw knives around anymore, but I think it is one of the best tools you can have around a prop shop for distressing. It's easy to use. Tip it almost flat and you can lightly shave the wood, tip it on a more extreme angle and you can take large gouges out of the wood along the grain.  

I used a spool of suede lace to weave the shield onto the pole and tied it tight through holes I drilled in the pole at the top and bottom. I added the small dowel rods top and bottom to give the shield the sturdiness it was lacking. 

At the top I tied more of the suede lace, tucking feathers underneath as I wrapped and sewing feathers onto the loose ends of the ties.

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