Friday, September 20, 2019

Fruit Sorbets - A Sweet #FakeFoodFriday!

This week's #fakefoodfriday is a simple. sweet one!  This tray of sorbets were for a production of Don Giovanni.  Finding the plastic cups were the hardest part, and I don't remember where we got these (it's been over 3 years and I've slept some since then... sorry!).  We may have even found them in stock... ANYWAY.  The idea is relatively customizable to any ice cream/ sorbet type of dessert.  
Materials: DuPont Enerfoam, colored paper, insulation foam, fake fruits, spray primer, paint, tacky glue
Tools: PPE!, scissors, Olfa knife

To make these sorbets, we started by making some sorbet scoops out of DuPont Enerfoam.  It's very similar to Great Stuff! with the added bonus of a reusable nozzle/gun.  For those unfamiliar with both products, it's a foam sealant usually used to fill cracks.  USE CAUTION WHEN USING THESE PRODUCTS!  They are made with chemicals that are extremely bad for your health.  We used our spray room for adequate ventilation.  

To make the sorbet-like scoops, we made a bunch of blobs and then picked the 6 we liked the most.  They only needed to fill the opening of the glass.  You want to avoid making anything that is too thick with Enerfoam (or Great Stuff!) because it requires air to cure.  It is possible that the insides of thick globs of this kind of expanding foam will take a very very long time to cure fully.  It's also extremely sticky if you accidentally poke your finger into an uncured glob.  And, yes, I do speak from experience... WEAR GLOVES.

Inside each glass is a roll of colored paper.  We picked these three because it's what we had in stock, and could make paint to match.  When our globs were dry, we painted them (first with a spray primer so the paint would stick) and then acrylic.  

The blueberries and strawberries were from our stock, but the lemon slices are small pieces of foam, carved and painted.  We cut a small groove in those 'scoops' to accommodate the slices, and glued them in with tacky glue.

We stuck them on tray using Joe's Sticky Stuff and they were good to go!

Friday, September 13, 2019

Some More Light Apps - Another Quick #FakeFoodFriday

A follow up to last week's light apps, I have some more!

Disclaimer: as with last week, many of these use pre-made food items because sometimes it's easier, quicker, and smarter, to use something that's already done. Most of them were purchased from Barnard Ltd, which is now Display Fake Foods.  All of these were made for School For Lies at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre in 2013.  Throwback!

Tomato and Cheese on Crackers
If I recall, these 'crackers' are actually fake wafer cookies, cut in half with texture added to the ends to look crumbly.  The cheese is white acrylic caulk.  The tomatoes are foam marshmallows, sliced and painted red, with a bit of yellow and orange detail painting for seeds.  They are topped with some plant bits for garnish.  (You may notice it's my go to.  Plant bits make great garnishes!!)

Watermelon and Cream Cheese
These little cubes are just insulation foam, coated with Sculpt or Coat and painted with acrylic paints.  The cream cheese is tiny styrofoam balls  cut in half, and also covered in Sculpt or Coat with some white paint and stuck on top of the cubes.  And yes, that is a little grass blade for garnish.  (Every time I see this picture I wonder what watermelon cubes with cream cheese balls would actually taste like... If you have experience with it, please let me know how they are.)

Fish Cups on Crackers
Though I think these would be 100% disgusting, they are pretty cute.  We bought the crackers and I made the cups out of Wonderflex scraps and painted them with acrylics.  The cheese balls are more of the same styro balls from above, covered in acrylic caulk and glued into the cups.  The cups are hot glued on, and as expected, the garnish is some plant bits glued on.  

Friday, September 6, 2019

Some Light Apps - An Easy #FakeFoodFriday

After a very accidental few weeks off, Fake Food Friday is back with some quick, light apps!

Disclaimer: many of these use pre-made food items because sometimes it's easier, quicker, and smarter, to use something that's already done. Most of them were purchased from Barnard Ltd, which is now Display Fake Foods.  All of these were made for School For Lies at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre in 2013.  Throwback!

Cucumber and Cream Cheese

For these I took some bought cuc slices, some white acrylic caulk and sprinkled some moss pieces on top for a garnish.  

Bread and Cheese Pinwheels

These very simple pinwheels are two layers of fun foam for each color glued together and then cut into strips.  I then used spray glue to roll them up, and coated them with a bit of Scuplt or Coat for gloss and minimal texture.  They're topped off with some found plant bits for garnish.  

Shrimp on Toast

We found these shrimps in stock, so I couldn't tell you much about them, but they were probably resin and very hard.  I did make the toast, though.  It was just a hunk of bead foam, shaped into a small baguette shape, and then sliced.  I used acrylic paint straight onto the foam (cringe), and hot glued the shrimp to them.  The tomatoes are beads that I filled the holes with some hot glue and painted red.  They're also hot glued on, as well as the tiny green leaf garnish.  

Friday, August 9, 2019

Gooseberry Hops, A Quick #FFFriday

This little project is a personal favorite, because they're just so cute.  For a production of Don Giovanni, set in the 15th century (also featuring the marzipan hedgehogs!) I made these cute little gooseberries in the form of hops.  
Materials: Large wooden beads, fun foam, hot glue, paint
Tools: glue gun, brushes

Unfortunately I didn't take any process pictures for these, but it's pretty simple.  I started with this research image from of 'gooseberries in the form of hops.'  

I would 100% eat these

I then took a large oval bead and some artfully cut fun foam, and glued it on in layers. 
Photo: Lisa Borton

I then passed them on to our very talented props painter, Lisa, who actually made them look like a thing, including a little sugar coating.  
Photo: Lisa Borton

They were then arranged on a little copperleaf tray, with some violet garnishes to make them look *fancy*.  

As with so many of my fake food projects, I'd like to give a lot of credit to the painters, because they really sell the finished product!  Thanks, Lisa!!

Friday, July 26, 2019

Skipping again... Sorry!

I'm missing yet another FFFriday because today is the final day of our build season here in Santa Fe!  

Tomorrow our fifth show opens and we move into 6-show weeks and building Apprentice Scenes, where our apprentice technicians will have a chance to show of their skills and the apprentice singers get to sing principal roles. But for today, I'm going to enjoy the company of my fellow staff members who will be leaving and revel in a two day weekend.  

FFFriday will return next week, and, as always, if you would like to share a project, email me at !

Friday, July 19, 2019

A Few Fritos for #FakeFoodFriday

It's FFFriday again, and I've got an easy one for you this week!

Materials: Wonderflex, acrylic paint
Tools: Scissors, heat gun, dowel, brushes

This little cup of Fritos were made for an Apprentice Scene in 2018 by our apprentices Alyssa Tryon and Adia Matousek!  Scenes are a single performance (plus run thru and dress rehearsal, obviously), so you may be asking, "But why didn't you just buy Fritos?"  No one was going to eat them, they were just bar dressing, and we didn't want to waste them.  Also it was a great project for Alyssa, who wanted to more fake food (don't we all?!).  In actuality, these were split over 3 small bowls and they had false bottoms put in them so they looked full.  

Each Frito was cut from a piece of Wonderflex  and shaped using a heat gun to soften the thermoplastic, and wrapped gently around a dowel to get the curl.  Alyssa then painted each one with acrylic paint, adding some brown texture for authenticity.  We didn't worry about the grid texture on the back of the Wonderflex, as it's not noticeable unless you're reaaaaally close.  

And that's that!  Happy Friday y'all and Prop On!

Friday, July 12, 2019

Steaming Mug - A Little Different #FakeFoodFriday

Hello All!  This week's #FFFriday is a bit of a stretch to be considered 'fake food,' but it's a project I've been working on for a while and I want to share it!  
We got a note to add 'steam' to a mug that an artist is carrying around to illustrate how very cold it is outside.  She puts this mug to her face and pretends to drink from it as well.  Plus, we're an outdoor theatre, where there's always wind, and it's usually quite warm, so actual hot water wasn't an option.  This project has evolved quite a bit, but I'm going to share my whole process, for science.  (Final tool and materials list will be at the bottom of the post.)

Warning: this post is very long and contains a lot of gifs.

Spoiler: There's no hot liquid in this cup.

Idea 1: Mini Fogger
Well, we didn't have one in stock, and they're pricey.

Idea 2: Dry Ice
Not great since our artist is putting it up to HER FACE.  Also, the fog from dry ice is very dense, so it would have just fallen down the sides of the cup like fog and less like steam.  

Idea 3: a portable atomizer/diffuser
This idea we got some traction on, and it was the first real iteration that went on stage.  I had our shopper pick us up one of these: Portable Essential Oil Atomizer from our local Walmart.

It worked surprisingly well at first! It fit in our mug, it was easy to charge, and only required 'mineral water' in order to work.  The mechanism was simple, you just move the slider down until the mist starts.  

Downsides: it was white (I wrapped it in e-tape), the light was blue & bright (again, e-tape), and the kicker: the vapor shot sideways, not up.  There was also a problem of water condensing on the atomizing disc, which stopped the mist. (Apparently this is caused by using the incorrect water.  I tried distilled, tap and flat Pellegrino and it happened with all of them). Also it turned off after 60 seconds.

The mist would just hit the side of the mug, and then dissipate, so with the advice and assistance of a friend who happens to be a special FX guy (HI KIER!), I made a little pipe to direct the mist upwards.  I had to add little air holes along the bottom, otherwise the atomizer couldn't work.  I also added a few bumpers on the sides to it wouldn't wiggle around in the mug.  

Such a nice, gentle mist!

Until it stopped... You can also see how much water is condensing in the tube.

I cleaned the atomizer disc with a little vinegar, and that seemed to help.  Overall, it seemed pretty good to go for the show that night!

However, it wasn't perfect.  The mist/ steam was only located in one spot, and it was pretty weak.  It didn't have much visual impact.  

Idea 4: Harvest bits from a USB powered humidifier
This idea really built on #3, and solved several of our problems.  I watched a handful of youtube videos about making 'foggers' from humidifiers and I figured WHY NOT?!

I had our shopper pick up a HoMedics Personal Ultrasonic Humidifier from Bed Bath & Beyond.  They are cheaper if you order them online, but I'm impatient and was under a time crunch.  I chose this humidifier because it's USB powered, affordable, and small. 

I then proceeded to take it apart, all I really needed was the atomizer disc and circuit board. 

For power, I first tried a Mophie Powerboost Mini, but it was too large for our mug.  I went on a hunt to Ross Dress for Less, for a smaller powerbank, and got lucky!

Yes, that is a poopmoji.

I removed the battery portion from its novelty casing, and we had a rechargeable battery!  The charging port and power port are right by each other, which is very helpful.  I then hooked everything up to make sure it worked!  

Look at that mist!

The key to this set up is the atomizer disc having full contact with water.  This is also plugged into a power strip, and not the battery, for testing's sake.  (Plus the battery was charging).  

Essentially, the atomizer disc vibrates at a specific frequency and turns water into vapor.  SCIENCE!! However, if it's put under water, it can't make mist.  So to solve this, I opted for a sponge (really, just gray foam) in a condiment cup, filled TO THE BRIM.

I timed the mist output for this set up and it went for about 8 minutes before the atomizer couldn't pull water out of the 'sponge.'  If it was a real sponge it may have worked better, but I was concerned about color and we definitely didn't have a sponge that deep.  So I tried putting a lid on the condiment cup to squish the disc into the sponge a bit more. 

I cut a hole the size of the output portion of the disc and used some Joe's Sticky Stuff to stick it to the lid.  I filled the cup to nearly overflowing and smushed the lid on.  It was a bit of a mess, but this set up went pretty strong for nearly 17 minutes before the mist diminished!  I painted the lid, hooked it up the battery and tested it out!


I then did a lot of creative wrapping, taping, and sticking to get The Setup into a small mass to put in the mug.  I wrapped the circuit board in stretch wrap so it wouldn't get wet.  I also stuck a second condiment cup on top to hold the water/sponge on top.  

As one can see, it's not very... delicate.  It technically fit into our mug, the condiment cup was just about the same size of the opening.  However, it was still only shooting up from one area, and it was quite vigorous.  I tasked an apprentice into looking for smaller containers, perhaps in our jewelry drawer, and she did not disappoint!

This perfume container is nearly the same size as The Setup, and I trimmed down one of the wicks that came with the humidifier so it was just taller than the perfume vial.  Beautifully, the atomizer disc was the exact right size to fit in the top of the lid.  I drilled a hole in the top and cut a slit up the side and slid it in, holding it in place with more Joe's Sticky.  

I taped the perfume vial to The Setup and stuck it in the mug.  There was still the problem of a single jet of mist, so an artful placing of the condiment lid did a pretty good job at diffusing the mist.  

Not too shabby!

However, I still wasn't satisfied with 'artfully placing' the condiment lid, and The Setup looked a bit of a mess.  So, I solidified the atomizer wire connection, cleaned up the perfume tube lid a bit, and made it so it didn't have to get taped onto the base. I also glued the humidifier on/off switch to the actual switch so it was easier to use. I covered almost all of it with e-tape so it would be dark in the mug.  You can still see a bit of the LED light, but only enough to know that the atomizer is on, or that the battery is charging.  To make it super easy for our run crew, I made it an elastic holder that can hold the perfume tube but can slide off so the charging port is accessible.    

Snug as a bug in a rug

To deal with the single jet problem, I made it a little hat!  A round piece of scrap plastic, with a few holes punched in, stuck on a plastic tube, cut at an angle.  It fits in the mug between the perfume vial and The Setup.  I spray painted it flat black (though it doesn't look like it in the photo) and added a little pull tab so it's easy to get out of the mug.  

Though it's still heavy to one side, the mist is pretty diffused and strong!

I did a time test for this (final) setup and there's a strong mist for about 15 minutes, and then it diminishes significantly.  The perfume bottle doesn't hold a lot of water, so that's still pretty impressive!

I'm pretty pleased with how it finally turned out.  I'll likely never see it on stage, but I hope the audience appreciates it!

Final Materials: Mug (stock), HoMedics humidifier bits, rechargeable batter with USB plug, USB power cable (from humidifier), plastic wrap, refillable perfume vial with removable lid, scrap plastic, plastic tubing, Joe's Sticky Stuff, black waxed thread, elastic, and SO MUCH electrical tape. 
Tools: Olfa knife, small Philips screwdriver, scissors, sewing machine (for elastic holster), pipette to fill perfume vial

I hope I get to use this trick again in the future!  You can buy ultrasonic atomizer discs on Amazon, and there are a handful of diagrams out there if you want to wire your own circuit board.  That's a bit out of my range, but always a possibility. Honestly, the big score on this project was learning that you can get poopmoji power banks.  What a world we live in!  Also some of my co-workers called me a science witch while working on this project, and honestly, I love it.  #sciencewitchforever

Friday, July 5, 2019

Sweet Lil Orange Slice - #FakeFoodFriday from Ashley Lawler!

This nice little slice comes to you from Ashley Lawler, who I work with at the Opera! 
Materials: Plastic Orange, Model Magic, Foam Packing Sheets, Crystal Gel
Tools: Olfa Knife

Step 1: Cut a plastic orange into slices (use what you've got!)

Step 2: Take some Model Magic and sculpt some pith (ie the white part of the peel)

Step 3: For the inner, juicy part, it's two layers of foam packing sheets, with crystal gel and paint gluing them together.  A little detail carving and then finished with a bit more crystal gel and paint. 

Step 4: Glue into the rind, get a glass and twisty straw, and tah-dah!



props (35) fakery (31) faux (25) food (25) fakefoodfriday (24) theater (24) Fake Food Friday (22) cake (10) foam (9) kitchen (9) caulk (7) Albert Herring (6) casting (6) insulation foam (6) opera (6) Design Master (5) Smooth-On (5) booze (5) desserts (5) drink (5) edible (5) jaxsan (5) microfoam (5) molding (5) acrylic (4) carve (4) ham (4) resin (4) acrylic caulk (3) beverage (3) candy (3) cheese (3) cocktail (3) dressing (3) fruit (3) latex (3) model magic (3) period (3) upholstery foam (3) urethane (3) vintage (3) Helena Mestenhauser (2) Ilana Kirschbaum (2) Sarah Heck (2) acrylic paint (2) appetizers (2) brownie (2) casserole (2) chocolate (2) confection (2) decorating (2) dial (2) ephemera (2) fish (2) flower (2) foam sheet (2) gel wax (2) hot pour vinyl (2) leg (2) link (2) mocktail (2) mother mold (2) pies (2) pizza (2) reference (2) research (2) safe (2) salt dough (2) sandwiches (2) tutorial (2) wrappers (2) Canapes (1) David Russell (1) Dowel (1) Dragonskin (1) Ellie Bye (1) FX (1) Flex Foam-It (1) Fritos (1) Introduction (1) JT Ringer (1) Jess Smith (1) Keli Sequoia (1) Materials Monday (1) Oona Tibbetts (1) Poultry (1) Sara Pool (1) Serena Yau (1) Skylight (1) Smoothcast 325 (1) Turkey (1) Victoria Ross (1) Wonderflex (1) Worbla (1) alcohol (1) alginate (1) apoxie (1) aspic (1) banana (1) bead foam (1) bread (1) bundt (1) cabbage (1) carnation (1) cellophane (1) champagne (1) cheesecake (1) cherries (1) chilaquiles (1) citrus (1) clear (1) coat (1) coke (1) cola (1) contact adhesive (1) cork (1) cotton batting (1) cream (1) drinks (1) dumplings (1) fake steam (1) faux mex (1) flexcoat (1) fondant (1) fruit salad (1) glass (1) great stuff (1) gum paste (1) hands (1) herring (1) hors D'ouevres (1) icing (1) intern (1) joke (1) katie webster (1) kolache (1) labels (1) lettuce (1) life casting (1) liquid (1) martinis (1) marzipan (1) meat pie (1) menu (1) mini fogger (1) mini mister (1) nougat (1) olive (1) olives (1) oranges (1) pan dulce (1) paraffin (1) pastries (1) pastry (1) peas (1) petit fours (1) pickled herring (1) pie (1) pie crust (1) pineapple (1) prosciutto (1) punch (1) restaurant (1) samosas (1) sculpey (1) shrimp (1) small pastries (1) snacks (1) soda (1) sorbet (1) spilled (1) stage effects (1) sugarplums (1) sweetmeats (1) sweets (1) taco (1) tomato (1) tuna (1) tv dinner (1) vacuform plastic (1) violets (1) wax (1) welcome (1)