Monday, February 8, 2010

Magical book of life

The second fun prop for The DNA Trail at Silk Road Theatre Project is this ancient magical book. It needed to be incredibly large (the term used in the script was "unwieldy"). I started with the same idea as I used for the Ghost of Christmas Past's book. I bought lots of foam sheets in white grey and tan, about 50 sheets total, and used printer paper, tracing paper and velum in  between the sheets of foam to add variety to the texture of the book. I included a large chunk of tracing paper pages in the center, so the when the book was opened onstage the actress could turn pages that looked thin and light and a little more magical.
For the last book I created a binding by wrapping the edges of the sheets in a piece of paper soaked with glue. This time, with so much paper involved I didn't trust that method. Instead I divided that stack I had created into five sections and used a leather needle to sew through the layers to bind them together. I then glued the outside pages of each stack to each other and I wrapped the whole thing in a gaff tape binding like I did on the last book. For the outside cover I used foam board instead of lauan to make the book even lighter and bound it again with gaff tape to attach the cover to the pages. This time though I took the time to cover the whole cover in gaff in order to create a uniform smooth surface on which to work the next layer.
For the cover I bought a piece of leather and carefully wrapped the book. I had decided that I wanted to use my wood burning iron to press a pattern into the leather and since this play had an American West setting I researched Hopi and Navajo art to find my inspiration.
Once I had located the designs I wanted to use I drew them out on printer paper, cut out the stencil and traced them onto the leather with a light black pen. It is important for me to carefully lay out my designs before I start using the wood burner as I am not very good freehand and you can't erase anything you burn into the leather.
After the design was finished I rubbed a copper acrylic paint onto the book cover and then wiped it off, leaving the copper color in the grooves I had just created and lightly in the grain of the leather to give it more of a glowing magical feel.

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