Sunday, March 27, 2011

Chickens ala Aimee, or the funniest food prop I've ever seen.

 Materials: Utility Fabric, Pinto Beans, Poly fill, Pretzels (optional), Plastic Bags.

This week's project comes to you from my good friend, Aimee Plant, who is a free lance propster in and about Chicago.  For a production of 'Milk, Milk, Lemonade' by Pavement Group, Aimee had to make a slew of raw chickens. The shtick is that chickens go into the processing machine and, after a poof of feathers, processed, bagged chickens come out.  According to Aimee, one of the chickens to meet her untimely fate is also the best friend of the human protagonist- and played by an actress in chicken costume. For her processing, Aimee made a large, turkey sized chicken.

The chickens are soft sculpture- and made from a fabric called Utility Fabric. Aimee wishes it were more specifically named, but she believes that it is used to cover changing tables and other surfaces that need to be wipeable.  The stuffing is a mixture of poly fill and pinto beans (for heft) which are very common and useful stuffing choices.

First, Aimee made a prototype out of muslin, to make sure her size and shape were correct.

Once she had determined that she was on the right track, she cut her pieces out of the fabric.

Then she sewed them together and stuffed them while she enjoyed a delicious snack of pretzels.
Filling for chickens and tummy.
Pile of chicken parts.
Then, she pieced the chicken parts together into whole chickens.
Possibly the funniest food prop I have ever seen. 

Then bagged them.

If you've seen a funnier food prop- send me a picture!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Cherry Pie ala Kathleen

This awesome work of faux pastry was made by Kathleen Ballos, a young propster and one of our neighbors to the north.  I'll let her tell you about it.

Katleen writes;

"The cherry pie was something I just something I made at home for fun because I didn't have a job at the time. That being said, I used things that were affordable and very non-toxic (it was too cold to work outside for ventilation). I used salt dough for the pastry - I made the bottom layer like a normal pie (but cut a slice out and put it on a separate pie plate to bake) and covered the bottom with dried beans and foil, then arranged the lattice on top (I also cut a slice of the lattice and placed it on top of foil on the other pie plate).

After it was baked, I cut styrofoam to fit both the large pie and the slice and used Crayola Model Magic to form the cherry filling over the styrofoam. While I was doing it, I could tell that the foaminess of the model magic wasn't going to be the most accurate way to recreate the cherry filling, but using a tiny bit of water to smooth the edges of the cherries helped a bit. However, when it dried little crevices formed, but were hidden by paint and the lattice. On the plus side, the model magic allowed the filling to stay light-weight.

The lattice was a bit tricky - when I baked it, I didn't think to press the intersections together or to use water to help strengthen them, so it was pretty fragile. The salt dough reacted alright to hot glue, but it wasn't very strong. Finally, I painted the cherry filling and the shell, then glued the layers together."

Delightful!  If you'd like to see more of Kathleen's craft work, you can visit her Flickr page here.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Hot Pour Vinyl Fishies

Materials:  Hot Pour Vinyl, Plaster, Vaseline, Acrylic Paints, Mold Box (wood or other), Modeling Clay
The mold for these herring was made for our production of 'The 39 Steps', by our clever and hilarious intern, Jess Smith, with guidance from yours truly.
Intern shown actual size.
 It is a simple two part plaster mold made from a fake fish that we had in stock.  See! Casting and faux foodstuffs in one convenient post!

The Original.
The first thing that Jess did was to determine where the seam of the mold wanted to be. With a symmetrical piece like a fish, this is a pretty easy task, especially when the fish you are using is a cast piece that already has a seam!  Using a wooden mold box, Jess built up clay around one side of the fish, taking up the space that one half of the mold would eventually fill.  Before applying a release agent, she built up clay near the mouth to form a pour spout, and carved a trough with a carving tool to act as a registration.  (A registration is made to keep the two pieces of the mold in the correct alignment.)  Once the clay dam was complete, Jess used petroleum jelly (good ol' Vaseline) to coat the clay dam, the wooden sides of the box, and the fish. This acted as a release agent so that the plaster would not stick to any of the surfaces and prevent the mold from being removed.  Jess then poured the plaster into the first side of the mold, and allowed it to cure.
Here you can see the first half of the mold and the clay dam that has been removed.
Once the plaster set, Jess removed the whole thing from the mold box (some disassembly required), flipped it, and settled in back into the mold box, plaster side down. She then removed the clay dam, built the second half of the pour spout, and gave the whole shebang another coat of petroleum jelly before pouring side two.  Once side two was poured, she removed the mold from the box, removed the fish from the mold, and gave both pieces of the mold a good scrubbing to remove the release agent.
See the registration trough/ridge?

The next step was to pour the castings.  We used pigmented hot pour vinyl to do this (see last weeks post here).  After securing the mold halves together, Jess heated the vinyl until it melted, and poured it into the mold.  The vinyl itself isn't sticky when it's dry, so no release agent was needed.  Then, once the vinyl had cooled, we popped it out of the mold, trimmed the sprue from the pour spout and painted the fishies silver with acrylic paint.  We did try to brush silver bronzing powder into the mold before casting, and while it looked good, the powder came off on our hands too easily when handling the herring- so we went with the paint instead.

The best thing about these fishies is their floppy quality.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Thanks for your patience!

Hey all, you may have noticed that I haven't posted yet this week. Please accept my apologies. There is a lot of bad, bad business going down in my home state right now (as well as with my car) and it has had me a bit distracted.  Not a good excuse? Maybe, but it's the one I have. And don't worry, I'll put up that post on Hot Pour Fishies tomorrow, cross my heart. Happy Propping to all, and peace and safety to all of the people in the world right now who need it.


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