Giant chicken egg
These oversize chicken eggs were made for a theatrical production. The oversize eggs are 60cm high and made from fibreglass for strength so they can be sat on.
The first step was carving a polystyrene oversize egg so a fibreglass mould could be made. The mould construction is described in another post. After the mould was finished two oversize eggs were cast. After the fibreglass halves were joined together they were painted.
One of the oversize eggs was made with a broken top so something could *hatch* from it on stage.
Assembled cracked egg
Cracked egg with top removed
Oversize round music box dancer base
This oversize music box dancer base was made for a show where a young ballet dancer, standing on the base, would dance when the handle on the side was cranked.
The base was made by routing rings of timber with different profiles and stacking them together to form the structure. It was hollow inside so a speaker could be installed to play music on cue when the handle was cranked.
Below are some photos showing the construction process.
Using a router to cut the profiles of the timber rings
Routed timber rings stacked to form the base section
Making the central core spacer
Fitting the central core to the base section
Fitting the top section to the base and clamping in position
Cutting up a rubber door mat to make the trim
Central trim fitted and ready for painting
Completed music box base painted gold
For stability the base was fitted with five legs instead of four. On a round object five legs look much better than four.
The Greatest Wonder of the World exhibition is being held at the State Library of NSW from February 23rd to May 12th 2013. The exhibition showcases the work of Beaufoy Merlin and Charles Baylis who documented everyday life in the gold fields, towns and cities of Australia in the 1870’s.
In 1951 a cache of 3500 glass wet plate negatives were discovered in a garden shed in Chatwood. Now known as “The Holtermann Collection” they were scanned in high resolution by the Library which revealed a wealth of information about the times. It was through Bernhardt Holtermann, part owner of The Star of Hope gold mine in Hill End and “discoverer” of the Holtermann nugget, that Merlin and Baylis were able to create this legacy which is the subject of this exhibition.
We were approached to build a replica daguerreotype camera and a 2D replica of the Holtermann nugget for the exhibition which are shown in situ below. More detail on each prop can be found by following their links.
The sliding box daguerreotype camera display at the exhibition
The Holtermann Nugget section of the exhibition
Oversize Jean Nouvel knife and fork
A recent project called for an oversize Jean Nouvel designer knife and fork prop for a display. The two metre long knife and fork props were required to hang vertically on a wall.
Using a reference photo scaled drawings were made from which the props were constructed from timber.
The knife was a simple matter to make but the fork was challenging as it had a curved profile.
This was solved by making a mould of the shape of the fork and laminating several layers of thin plywood together and clamping them in the mould. When the glue had dried the formed ply laminate was ready for shaping.
A metallic reflective finish was required and this was achieved by sealing and sanding the surface until a perfectly smooth surface was obtained. This was then sprayed with a brilliant chrome enamel and left to dry.
Below are some of the stages in construction of the oversize prop fork.
1) Overview of the completed timber mould for the fork. Two plywood boxes interlocked with the profile of the fork end.
2) View of the end of the fork mould boxes which, when filled with sand, minimised any distortion in the shape of the mould when clamped.
3) Applying glue to both sides of the ply laminate sheets before laying them in the mould. Six sheets of 3mm ply were used.
4) Clamping the ply laminates into the the fork mould created the desired profile. It was left overnight to dry.
5) The ply laminate after its removal from the mould. The fork design was simply drawn on this and cut out and shaped as required.
6) The first undercoat is applied to seal the timber and prepare it for filling and sanding. The aim is get get an optically smooth surface before the final coat of paint is applied.
Oversize music box dancer
The client required an oversize music box prop that could have a ballet dancer performing on the top. Basically a giant music box dancer. The music box design needed to be simple and elegant.
A sturdy box was made trimmed with timber moulding and finished in gloss white. Fleur de lys were laser cut, painted red and attached to the faces of the music box.
An oversize key was made, scaled up to the size of the music box, which a performer inserted into a hole on the side of the music box and mimed winding up the mechanism so the dancer performed. This was made using a laser cut handle section attached to a turned timber barrel.
Oversize music box key
Music box with key
Below is a short video showing the music box at Westfield Eastgardens in Sydney during the Santa Parade on November 12th, 2011. The ballerina was motionless until one of Santa’s helpers used the oversize key to “wind her up” to dance.
Dodo bird reconstruction
Adam Savage of Mythbusters fame gives a wonderful presentation on the process and challenges he encountered making a Dodo bird skeleton. It gives an insight into the mind of the man as well as some good creative tips. Some think he is being obsessive in the detail he embarks upon in making the Dodo bird skeleton however the questions he asks himself are typical of what a prop maker needs to consider in the course of their work.
The Dodo bird and Maltese Falcon prop
As well as making the Dodo bird skeleton Adam also discusses the making of a copy of the Maltese Falcon. A Maltese Falcon statuette was the primary prop in the 1941 Humphrey Bogart film of the same name which has become a cinema classic.