Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Adventures in Prop Making

I haven't had much time to blog lately. I'm busily trying to build props for the 2008 Puppet Festival theme program. The theme this year is "Planned with a Purpose."

This year we are trying something new, it's a blacklight technique that Trinity Puppeteers from New Zealand demonstrated at I-Fest in 2006. In this style, props that look a bit like fluorescent line drawings are held up behind a screen. Blacklights positioned in front of the screen illuminate the props. The props seem to come into focus as they are held up to the screen. It's a pretty cool effect. However, the prop construction has been pretty time consuming. I snapped a few pictures today as I was working on one of the props that I thought I'd share.

We start with the art itself. Kayla is our graphic designer at One Way Street, she's really a great artists, so I asked her to do the drawings. She's drawing them by hand and then cleaning them up in the computer. This one is of a Pharisee...Branden said he looked a bit like a Scooby-Doo villain. I transfer the drawings to a transparency and then shoot them up on the wall with an overhead projector. I'm using mat board for these props. Usually I would use something a bit thicker like foamcor or gator board, but since there are several props and limited travel trunk space I wanted to use the thinnest material I could.

For the fluorescent part of the prop I'm using this great blacklight gaffers tape we found. I stick the tape over all the lines of the drawing and then trace the drawing with a pencil onto the tape.

Once all the lines are traced, I use a razor blade to start cutting away the tape that I don't want. Here you can see a lot of the tape cut away. Peeling away the tape is a little bit of a challenge, the mat board can tear a little if you pull to hard. Luckily, in blacklight no one can see those little mistakes.

On some of the first of these props I made, I was really struggling with cutting out some of the smaller details. Then I realized that I could just color in some of those spots with a black marker and nobody would no the difference.

Here's what he looks like when everything is cut out and colored in. This is in regular light, so you can see the spots where I used marker, but check him out in blacklight...

Pretty cool! I'll try and show a few more of the props soon...if I have time.

No comments: