Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Large overly fancy quill
Next to the letters, Cyrano's pen is the most important prop in Cyrano. I started by making a fairly standard sized quill from a cheap (goose?) feather I bought at Michaels. I found some pretty fabulous tutorials online about how to temper the feather with heat to make it less flexible, and how to cut the correct angles and slits in the end to make the ink flow. You can look it up yourself however, because the quills I made using those tutorials were not the quills we ended up using.
Instead of a basic goose feather we decided to use a large grand ostrich plume.
I started by cutting back the feathers from the base of the quill until I had enough space for a hand to hold and write comfortably.
We wanted the pen to be able to actually write when he used it onstage. To do that I took the inside out of this ballpoint pen.
I feel it is worth noting why I chose a cheap ballpoint pen for the ink. I would have loved to have used a fountain or felt tip pen, or even a nicer ballpoint, so that I could have gotten a heavier nicer line when he wrote on the paper. In this production though, Cyrano's quill doubles as the feather in his hat. With a nicer pen, with ink that flowed more freely, I was in too much danger of the ink flowing freely onto the hat and staining it.
I attached the ink to the pen by wrapping it tightly with electrical tape (for a tight hold) and masking tape (for color and texture).
And I finished it off with a touch of black paint to imitate the staining a quill would get from being continually dipped into an ink well.
And the effect is fantastic when he writes the letter onstage and the audience (especially those who are seated in the close balcony) can see an empty page filling with poetry.