Posts Tagged With: artex

The Tale of Januarie…In February

Work is well under way for the set of Tale of January. The workshop has been taken over by the makings of a tree, Our scenic artists have been busy painting the leaf cloth and props have a selection of interesting pieces being made.

In the props department, Oscar has made an array of interesting props over the start of the term. He began with the two medieval carts which will be used as market stalls laden with produce.

Oscar has also had some opportunities to brush up on his poly-carving skills.

The produce which would cover the cart has been created using a variety of methods. The fish were cast in 2 hollow halves in latex which were then fixed together. This gave them a pliable and moveable form. The pears have been cast in plastic from a plaster mould using the vacuum former.

Paintshop is busy with a few large scale items for this production. One of the jobs has been to create the stonework effect on the castle wall flat. This was created by painting the cut flats with a red-brown base, masked off when dry and rolled over with a cream and lighter brown mix to give texture and depth to the effect.



Our scenic artists have also successfully tackled the task of painting the leaf cloth. This will be flown in front of the tree. It should create an amazing effect. Can’t wait to see it up.



In construction, Lana and Constance have been working on creating the branches of the tree. A steel frame was made and welded together onto which the airex was cut and fixed using T-nails.

A thousand Lana-deer antlers were gathered and attached to the main branches using two part epoxy to create the smaller branches of the tree.

No Lana-deer were harmed in the making of this tree!

Fortunately, we have a brand spanking new CNC router with which our branches were cut out of airex material.

The tree has been textured with artex and then painted to complete the bark effect. This was done by applying a creamy orange base to the tree and then once dry, adding two paint washes to the top. One for the main bark colour and the second for the shadowing. The effect is amazing!


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Our first years laying the floor! Yes, fit up is well under way and the ply flooring has been laid. This will be painted by scenic art to resemble the brown colour of the model. The edges will be sprayed with black paint which will then be faded into the brown to create a soft gradient.


There are a few pieces in progress around the workshops so I may have some more pics to add and update you on, but for now, due to everyone’s hard work and late nights, it is all looking great!

In addition to our show work, Sam Palmer (3rd year TT student) has been busy in our workshop creating his graduation project. His objective was to create an immersive environment depicting the Sword in the Stone. Sam spent a few weeks making prototypes and working out the best methods to use to create the shape and texture he was looking for. He used chicken wire fixed to a wooden frame to create the shape of the rock. This was then covered with a plaster scrim before being textured and painted. It was a pleasure to have Sam working with us and he did a great job c his final creating his final piece. Personally, I enjoyed the atmosphere he had managed to create. The music and the water running out of the rock elevated the whole thing to another level. Very well done!

Sam used a small pump to push the water out of the top of the rock he then created a moat around the outside of the rock to guide the water back down to the pump.

It was a pleasure to have Sam working with us and he did a great job creating his final piece. Personally, I enjoyed the atmosphere he had managed to create. The music and the water running out of the rock elevated the whole thing to another level. Very well done!



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Vincent and the Yellow House

This years DR project for our first year students has been design by our props lecturer Pat Shammon and was based around Vincent van Gogh and the time he spent in a house in Arles, France which, for a short time, he shared with fellow artist Paul Gaugin.


Model box


Pat had designed the project as a 2 part installation, the first section was designed as a curved wall exhibiting a collection of literature and images about Van Gogh’s life and works in and around the time that he lived in the yellow house with the backdrop blending into a painting of the ‘Café Terrace at Night.’


The curved wall was made in three sections by our first years Spike and Lucy. Canvass was then glued over the plywood cladding ready for painting.


The flats were painted a deep blue which would then be blended into the painting of Van Gogh’s ‘Café terrace at Night.’


Once the painting was completed fairy lights were inserted into the canvass in the centre of the painted stars.

img_1442The display tables were made and mounted to the curved wall and Marcus painted the introduction text onto the flat by hand…(patience of a saint!)img_1439


The second section depicted an immersive, abstract imagining of what one of the rooms inside the house may have looked like. Here Pat took inspiration from Van Gogh’s paintings to inform the appearance and decoration of the props and the dressing of the room.


In the set we can see influences from ‘The bedroom,’ and  ‘Paul Gauguin’s Chair,’ amongst others. These paintings were used as references for the creation of the distorted furniture pieces and the colours and textures used to paint them and their surroundings.

The walls of the room were made as TV flats which were then clad and textured with artex. Once dried, a mix of two washes were applied to give the appearance of old plastered walls. Once installed they received a thin, black spray across the tops and down the corner to give the appearance of soot.

The window itself was made by our very own workshop elf (otherwise known as construction lecturer Edd Smith) Which was a beautiful piece and really helped to pull the two sections of the installation together! Shhh don’t tell anyone!

The floor of the room was made up of 9″x 1″ rough sawn timber which we nailed to a steel deck platform.


Most excitingly we produced our first piece of work from our new CNC router. Andy was able to use it to cut out the exhibition title.

The Furniture

Spike had the challenge of creating a chair to represent Van Gogh’s painting of Gauguin’s chair and successfully imitated the distorted nature of the chair in the painting. The seat itself was made from caved polystyrene and the paint work replicated that of the original painting.


Jess made Van Gogh’s own chair, again taking inspiration from the painting. You can see how the paint and distortion of the prop imitate the style and shapes within the artwork.

Beth created the side table from ‘The Bedroom’ Painting which again had a great distorted element to it and the paint effect perfectly replicated that of the original painting.


Still Life

Alongside their prop making our first years also created some amazing still life drawings that would represent the sketches of Van Gogh and Gauguin on the floor of the studio. We set up a still life display in our props workshops from which the students worked from. Pat tried to incorporate items similar to those that Gauguin and Van Gogh were drawing from.

After a workshop with Vanessa (scenic art lecturer and head of DR), on painting with a palette knife, our first years created some artist copies of Van Gogh works which would be hung on the walls and placed around the set.

These artworks were very effective in displaying the range of work Van Gogh completed in this period as well as creating the look and feel of a working art studio.

To enhance the immersive feel of the installation, artificial candles were placed in the set and soup was set in the pan on top of the stove to make it feel as if the room had been very recently occupied and that we (the viewer) had stumbled into the world of the artist.

It has been a great project and the result was impressive and very well received. Our first year work hard to pull this project together and it paid off. Well done to all the first year students and a BIG THANK YOU to Elliot Smith (our 2nd year TT student for his brilliant lighting of the set)!



Time for a Christmas party methinks!!!!!


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Associated Studies



We have just come to the end of our associated studies module with our first year students. This module aims to enable our students to gain some hands on experience in areas of technical theatre not already covered in their chosen pathways.

Over the two week  module our students have managed to develop their skills across all three areas of design realisation and have produced some really amazing work considering it was the first time many of them had worked in the workshops.


Here our some of our first years learning to use the bench saw, cross-cut (radial arm saw) and the wall saw (vertical panel saw) in our construction workshop.

Learning to use the Bench Saw  Learning to use the Vertical Panel Saw    

They then applied their newly acquired skills to the constructing of flats and treads for our opera.

image4 fixing plates with staple gun treads

In props our students were introduced to our machines with a ‘jewellery tree’ project. They were set the tricky challenge of cutting out their shapes on the band saw and had to assemble and refine their pieces using a variety hand tools. They also had a session to guide them through the ‘magic’ that can be created through paint effects and had a go at some marbling techniques.

Having been instructed through the use of the machinery and how to develop different paint effects, they were set the task of creating their own prop.

Here are a few examples of their work in progress.

jewelery tree miniature chest painting effects radio Stationery organisor

paint effects1paint effects2

In scenic art things got wonderfully messy! The students were set the task of reproducing a small section of a scale model, which consisted of an area of brick wall with a concrete bottom and a wooden hatch. They were shown examples of how each surface texture could be achieved using artex, rubber crumb, and sawdust, before being given the reigns on their own full scale pieces.

It was great watching the textures develop.

brick texture with artex  priming texture work  creating brick texture

After the texturing and priming their walls they then had the challenge of recreating the surface colours using different painting techniques.

adding colour to wall base colours for wall finished wall painting finished wall stencil


The finished pieces…

finished walls

The workshops across DR are in full swing now, with fit ups through the next two weeks, as we prepare for our two productions so keep an eye out for updates on how it’s all going.

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