The Prop Building Guidebook

5
Book review. Eric Hart's book of prop making for theatre, film and TV published by Focal Press.
By Robert Iles - 13th Mar 2013

Theatre and film frequently require replicas of three-dimensional objects built for actors to use. This book lays the groundwork for an artisan to determine what materials and techniques to use to build these props. Walking the reader through the various tools and techniques used in historical and contemporary prop-making, the author presents a process for deciding the materials and methods to build any prop. With an explanation of how the craft and its products have developed over time, the budding artisan will understand not just how and when to use certain techniques or materials, but also why to use them and what advantages they give. It arms the prop maker with a structured procedure for approaching the construction of any prop. Illustrated with step-by-step examples of how to use each construction method, and explanations of different types of materials, this book gives the beginner prop artisan a strong foundation to approach the construction of props and answers the question, "How should I begin?"

Clearly designed to be used in earnest this wire bound book (get the wider format version) site flat allowing you to pour over it as you work because essentially this is a working book giving good groundings in the materials and techniques of prop construction. I wish I'd had it a couple of months ago when making a fake clay head for stage work. Starting with safety and covering the use of basic, as well as advanced, tools and techniques this book will be a boon to anyone confronted with regular demands for the more obscure props.

Sections cover; measuring and marking, carpentry, meatlwork, plastics, fabric, patterning, sculptural materials, moulding, laminates and digital graphics. In each the basic materials, tools and techniques are described, working practices established and real/practical examples shown (from oversized garden gnomes to furniture to body parts) ... links at the back take you to the author's blog and the chance to ask more specific questions.

Before anyone asks, I am NOT lending you my copy, this one is going to be chained to my workbench ... now, where's that left-over alginate?


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