Saturday, June 25, 2011

Fake Pineapple Chunks

These fake pineapple chunks are to be a part of the same sangria mix that the fake berries in the last post are for.
My inspiration for this idea came from another props blogger, Anna Warren at Fake n' Bake, who used wax and concentrated wax pigments to make pieces to pickled herring.
Wax, she explained, is a great material for prop foods because of it's translucence and price. I figured this would be the perfect project to experiment with the material.
First I cut raw candle wax into roughly pineapple shaped chunks. It's a little tricky to cut, but I used my heat gun to heat up the metal blade of my knife to make the cuts easier.
and here is a closer picture
I melted down some more wax with a bit of concentrated yellow candle dye (sold in blocks at craft stores and you don't need much)
I used a cheap brush (because I assume it will be ruined by the wax) to paint a thin layer of the hot yellow wax over each chunk. the hot wax also helps to smooth and round the edges of the cut pieces.
and here is the final product.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Fake Raspberries and Blueberries

In  the show I am currently working on, one of the characters mixes up some sangria, with a variety of fruit, onstage as part of the action. I knew all of the fruit couldn't be real, it would cost us a fortune in consumables every night. 
To make blueberries I started with some marbles I bought in the home decoration section at Michael's. I chose the marbles partially because they would help the blueberries sink in the liquid like real berries, and partially because they are so ridiculously cheap.
I coated each marble with a thin layer of Sculpey oven-bake clay.
Once the marble was totally enclosed I took the tip of one of my keys and roughed up one spot on the ball. Next I baked them, with the clay so thin they only needed to be baked for about ten minutes.
I added random touches of thinned red and blue paint to the berries to give them more varied natural color and they were done.
And now the raspberries. 
Again I started with little marbles I bought at Michael's. 
I covered them bit by bit with dots of hot glue, giving each "row" time to dry before adding more so that the dots of hot glue kept their shape without melting together.
And then I painted them all red.
From a distance and packed into Tupperware they look pretty convincing. Hopefully they will be equally convincing when they are dropped into a pitcher of fake red wine.

fake roast and biscuits

For a one of my recent shows the actors are supposed to be eating a full dinner of roast, potatoes and carrots and biscuits. We decided that the biscuits and the roast would be fake, only the potatoes and carrots would be edible to give the actors something to do.
For the roast i started with some thick quilt batting.
I cut out some roast shapes
And then I coated them with liquid latex
It took about three coats until the latex was thick enough to cover both sides well.
I painted a salmony pink in the center of each slice.
And then sprayed the whole thing down with a coat of Design Master-Glossy Wood Tone spray paint
The biscuits were a simple salt dough (equal parts salt and flour, a little water, knead together and bake)
with a light dusting of Glossy Wood Tone for that golden baked color.

All in all a pretty tasty plate.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Parrot Puppet

For this puppet, a macaw I was very concerned with giving the animal a lot of personality. The idea to create a puppet for this moment was added late in the rehearsal process. By the time I got into rehearsal to see a run, the actor was creating a wonderfully alive bird with just his hands. I didn't want to lose any of that when he got the actual bird. From what he was doing I decided that the most important things were a moving beak, a nodding head and quick moving feet.
For the base of the bird I used three whiffle balls. These two were bolted together to create the body. The holes made it easy to use machine screws to attach the balls together, and to run tubes for strings operating the head and neck.

For the head I used another whiffle ball. I cut the bottom out of it to give room for the bottom of the beak to move and I attached it with a spring. When the puppeteer pulled the string attached from the lower jaw to the body, the head tipped down. When the puppeteer released the string, the spring pulled the head back upright.

The jaw worked very much like the mouth of the curious child. It hinged on a pivot point. The puppeteer's string pulls on the bottom and opens the mouth, and the spring from the top of the jaw to the top of the head pulls the mouth back closed.
The whole thing is mounted to a small piece of 1x4 with a handle, and steadied at the bottom with some epoxy putty. The handle allows the puppeteer to hold the bird with one hand and free the other hand to operate the pull strings for the head and beak.
The pull stings are run through the body using flexible plastic tubing (you can find it cheap in the plumbing section at most hardware stores) which prevents friction and tangling.
To round out the body, give the bird shape and create wings and a tail I used sheets of craft foam.
After I had the basic shape I needed, I began adding feathers I had cut from blue patterned fabric.
Feathers work like roof shingles, you need to start at the bottom and work your way up, overlapping as you go to get a nice, even, natural look.
I used a lighter color fabric for the bird's belly and used the reverse side of the same fabric for his face. I added some extra wooden beads I had at home for eyes.
(I'm so sad this picture came out blurry)
I attached the legs of the bird to the glove that the puppeteer is wearing.
What made this glove especially useful, is that there is a moment in the show when one of the characters grabs the bird, holds it tightly and runs across the stage.
With the handle and glove, she was able to grab the puppet from the puppeteer without a messy tangled process of him "unhooking" from the puppet. On the other side of the stage he could quickly slip his gloved hand into the handle and bring the bird back to life.
As a final touch I added a little bit of yellow around the eyes and the beak to make them pop from further away. 

The playwright love him:)

And, again, I can't figure out how to rotate a video anywhere between having it on my camera and uploading it on the blog, so just turn your head if you want to check out the bird (his name is Starbuck) in action.