Monday, July 11, 2011

Fake BBQ Meats

And for the final post in my "The Crowd You're in With" fake food marathon, the meats.
For chicken I started with a leftover piece of pink insulation foam. I cut roughly chicken sized squares and then began to round them.
I started by cutting large chunks off of all the corners and edges
Then continued rounding and shaping until I had some chicken-y shapes.
I coated the pieces with a couple coats of liquid latex and left one side unpainted to look like raw chicken.
I painted the other side with glossy wood tone and some dark grill marks to look like cooked chicken. When the actor  places the chicken on the grill he puts them in raw-side up. Later when he flips them he reveals the cooked side.
I made the burgers in almost the exact same way I made the roast beef a few weeks ago. This time though I learned my lesson about how the quilt batting thins out as it is coated. I started with three layers of batting stacked instead of one.
Again I coated the batting with several coats of liquid latex.
I then painted the burgers a raw beef pink color. Like the chicken I left one side of the meat raw.
The other side got sprayed with the same glossy wood tone to make it look cooked. 

Thankfully, even with all the grilling, very little was consumed in the show and we didn't need to worry about working with real meat every night. I'm curious though, does anyone have experience with that, and if so, what did you do?

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Fake Corn on the Cob

This corn on the cob is also for "The Crowd You're in With" at 16th Street theatre (opens July 14th by the way and will be worth the trip to Berwyn if you can make it).
I started with a 1" dowel rod, then wrapped it with Crayola Model Magic.
With the cap of a highlighter, I covered the still-soft clay with circular indentations to texture it. I found the the harder I pressed and more irregular I let the circles become, the better the effect was.

After the Model Magic dried , I painted the corn with two coats of transparent yellow paint to give the color some depth.  Finally I cut the corn cobs in half and roughed up the exposed wooden ends a bit.
Then placed them in a tupperware on the picnic table. 

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Prop Macaroons

Another piece of prop food from "The Crowd You're in With" was a tupperware full of macaroons.  Because macaroons have a rough pointed texture I thought I might try more of the pre-mixed paper mache I had used for my failed severed head.  For that project the paper mache had been too sticky and I couldn't get the smooth finish when I wanted it. For this project, the rough spikey surface was exactly what I was looking for.
The paper mache I used is called Celluclay. I picked it up on sale when I was working on the head for around $6  and still had plenty left for this project and more in the future). I know paper mache can be almost free if I made it myself, but for the convenience of having everything already mixed and shredded down to a fine powder, when I don't have a blender at home, buying the mix was totally worth it.
I mixed the power with water and formed about a dozen cookie-sized balls. I could have completely let them air dry, but to speed the process I put them in the oven for about an hour on the lowest temperature. The oven didn't dry them all the way through (that still took about a day) but it gave them a good head start and made them solid enough that I didn't have to worry about ruining them as I moved other things around in my kitchen.
I dusted them with a sand colored spray paint, then with some glossy wood tone (If I could do it again I would skip the sand-colored spray, they turned out a bit too dark for me),
and placed them in a tupperware. From a distance they look pretty tasty.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Magic Smoking Grill

For "The Crowd You're In With" at 16th Street theatre, much of the action revolves around the grill. Over the course of the play raw meat gets loaded onto the grill, cooked meat comes off, and in between the grill is opened and shut multiple times and meat is futzed with and flipped. Because of the very intimate space at 16th Street, all of this happens just a few feet from the audience. Fortunately the grill is set facing mostly upstage (on a slight angle) so most of the audience can't see inside, but being that close the lack of smoke and sizzle from a cold prop grill was noticeable. 

To Fix the problem I made sponge burgers. I cut these rough burger shapes out of an ordinary hardware store sponge. A sharp pair of scissors worked best to shape it.

 I was able to get four burgers out of two large sponges.
 I dusted the tops of the sponges with spray paint to make them a bit more burger-y
 We hid a small hot plate inside the grill, running the cord out the bottom, under the fake grass on the floor and offstage. The stage manager plugs it in before the top of each show so it has time to get hot.
 Also before the show we fill the sponge burgers with water and set them high and out of the way on the grill.
 As the actor is working at the grill during the show, he will periodically take the sponge burgers down, set them over the hot plate and press on them with his spatula. The spatula squeezes water out of the sponge onto the hotplate, which produces the perfect sizzle sound and a convincing puff of smoke (water vapor).
And most importantly, it's all totally safe. We don't violate any open flame laws, or set off any smoke detectors, and the grill (being intended to hold real flames) can easily take the heat that builds up over the 90 minute show.