Posts Tagged With: marble

Head first into the summer opera double bill.

The workshops are in full swing and beginning to fill with the pieces of our opera double bill. Arianne and Alexandre Bis has our students working on realising the designs of Simon Corder.

Here is a snapshot of the samples produced by scenic art for the set. We have three main finishes that need to be produced for this set. We have a yellow marble finish, a painted number grid and a white-washed concrete finish. Here are the samples that were put together for Simon to look at.



Construction have been busy building all the necessary flats to make up the walls of the set and treads for the show and with the help of our TT students, who are with us for their associated studies, we seem to be making good progress.

Construction have also had the pleasure of realising one of the more decorative features of the set. Alice, Lana and Oscar under the instruction of Andy were able to have a bit of fun in creating the Baroque style fireplace.

The main frame was made from timber which was clad with ply to give us the basic shape. The edges of the frame were decorated by laying a border of a thick plaster mix and then shaped with a purpose made jig to give the edge shape you see below.

the larger decorative mouldings were made by pouring plaster into vac formed moulds and the attaching these to the timber frame. The The mouldings were strengthened by laying hessian into the plaster.

Andy also sculpted some extensions with clay to finish off sections of pattern too fit and align with the size and shape of the piece. A mould was made of these clay sculpts which was them cast to create a finished plaster section.

The pieces were then screwed onto the main frame using the supports that had been set into them.

The joins were then filled and moulded by hand to give the impression it was one fluid piece.


The piece was then ready for a paint job. Our second year student Lana and I finished the piece by applying a marble paint effect.



Our scenic art students began their process by texturing the flats. This was done by covering them with a thin layer of idenden which gave the surface a rough concrete texture. They were then painted white and a raw umber wash applied to the bottom sections.


In props our students have been busy constructing miniature models of  the Arc de Triomphe, Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, and Sacre Coeur which will sit on plinths around the walls of the set.They have been using mainly styrofoam to construct the models and some of the final details will be drawn in CAD and 3D printed.

Emily did a great job at gilding the large picture frame to give a degraded finish. This prop piece will sit above the fireplace.


Props have also had the opportunity to work on some polycarving. In front of the fireplace is to be placed a decorative peacock fire gate. Sneha with the help of Anna carved the peacock from blocks of polystyrene. This was then covered with layers of foamcoat to help smooth the surface before being painted in metallics.


Alongside preparing the opera set, we have had students from other areas of technical theatre creating work for either a personal project or getting stuck in with assisting on the construction of the Alexandre Bis set.

Here are some example of the work going on amongst our associated studies students.

Fit Up….


Fit up for the opera went relatively smoothly. It began by constructing the steel deck truck onto which the set was attached. The walls and treads went in first, followed by the windows and balcony.


Once the set was attached to the truck we had to attach some breaks to it. However…we didn’t have any rubber fixed to the breaks we had… so we improvised…

…Worked a treat!


Categories: Design Realisation Project, Opera, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Three departments, two shows, so many photos…

Firstly, I can’t quite believe it’s nearly the end of week 3 already! Secondly, I can’t believe I haven’t posted anything about what we’ve been up to here in design realisation this term yet! I can honestly tell it’s been non-stop here in the workshop at the Guildhall School; three lots of Associated Studies (where 1st year students in other TTA streams try their hands at design realisation), one production in the Milton Court Studio and one giant opera set ready to head into the Milton Court Theatre next week…

I might as well tell you in pictures, that way you don’t have to read my rambling explanations of what we’ve been doing, and I don’t have to try to remember it all!

A snippet of what props have been working on:

And meanwhile in construction:

And in scenic art:

Phew! I told you we’d been busy! Next week is fit-up for the opera double bill in the Milton Court Theatre.  The scenic art team have been texturing and painting the floor over there too so I will be sure get some photos of that and the fit-up in progress which is always one of my favourite things to blog about.  Also stay tuned for more goings on in the prop department…

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Pinocchio in full swing…

Week three is here and the workshops are buzzing and whirring with activity.  Associated Studies is over for another term so the departments have spread back out, filling the workshops with set and props, samples and ongoing projects…

Work is continuing with this term’s opera, Pinocchio, with lots of pieces being made.  In the props department, Giulia and Marie have been working on the puppets for the show.  These puppets are really interesting as they are secured around the necks of some of the characters so that their own faces animate the faces of the puppets.  Sophie has been continuing her work on the eerie Crow Doctor’s mask which is taking shape and becoming more frightening every time I walk past!  Meanwhile, Katie has been carrying on with her work on Pinocchio’s hair; making a plaster mould of the sculpted clay hair and casting it in latex coloured with black pigment…looking good so far. 

The scenic art team have been continuing their work on the bricks, adding washes to make them more realistic and ageing them; I think you’ll agree that they look fantastic!  They’re also been sample other paint finishes including gold for the last crest and the floor.  Anna has also been working hard on the gravestone, creating a marbled finish and drawing up the lettering which will be painted with a trompe l’oeil effect so that it looks like it’s been carved into the marble. 

The construction team have also been busy working on the two Blue Fairy houses; adding windows, adding MDF tiles to the roof so that it looks like it’s been tiled with slate and making doors for the houses.  Will has also been working on a mechanism for one of the doors which ‘breaks’ when it gets kicked…I’ll try not to say too much in case I ruin the surprise- all in the name of the magic that is theatre!

Anyway as I’m sure you can see, we’ve been quite busy here in the design realisation workshops.  There’s still a lot to do and a full week ahead of us so I am sure there will be more photos…stay tuned!

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

First show of spring is taking shape…

Week three is here already and the preparations for Twelfth Night are well and truly under way.  Our first show of the spring term, which will open in the Silk Street Theatre on Thursday the 31st, is starting to take shape now; the beautifully marbled tiles have been laid onto the steel deck stage and a large green gazebo has been assembled and adorned with flowers scaling up a trellis. 

Here are some photos of the floor being laid and of third year props co-ordinator Lai adding flowers to the back wall of the gazebo…

 As you can see the two types of marbled floor look really nice together and the marbled skirting adds depth and a sense of grandeur…

The back wall and the upright sections of the gazebo were made by some first year students as part of their construction associated studies.  It is really nice that first year students were able to build scenery for a public performance this early in their education here at the Guildhall School; it is such a good way of learning new skills as well as contributing to the production.  All of the students should be really proud, it looks very impressive stood at the end of the platform with the marbled floor beneath it. 

One thing that always makes us happy here in the design realisation workshops is seeing the (nearly) finished product alongside the original model, designed by Mark Simmonds.  What do you think?

Gazebo model versus actual gazebo   

For more information about our production of Twelfth Night, visit the Guildhall School website at:

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Treads, marble, moulds, welding and more…

It’s the end of week two: snow is starting to fall outside whilst the design realisation workshops hum and buz with the sound of machinery and people.  All three departments have had a busy week this week, working on different shows and utilising a range of skills. 

The props workshop has been a hive of activity this week.  A selection of first year students on Associated Studies have been introduced to the world of prop making, trying their hands at a huge range of processes including basic woodworking skills, sculpting, mould making, casting and paint effects.  Meanwhile, the rest of the props department (Lai, Tara and Lisa) have been juggling work on several shows.  They’ve been making furniture for the upcoming production of A Respectable Wedding which will be at the Bridewell Theatre as well as starting work on the many props needed for this term’s Opera Le nozze di Figaro by Mozart which opens at the end of February.  It’s nice to see the workshop full of people ranging from first year students sampling prop making through to third year Lai honing her prop making skills in her final props allocation at the Guildhall School.  I was especially excited to see one of our second year design realisation students tucked away in the clean area of props which is reserved primarily for sewing or ‘cleaner’ prop making work.  Tara was working on some cushion covers and was surrounded by books, materials and old props from previous productions…It took me a minute or two to spot her in our very own Aladdin’s cave!

The scenic art team have been busy painting the rest of the floor for Twelfth Night which will be laid on Monday.  They’re moved on to the darker of the two marbles now which is a nice rich terracotta colour.  The process is slightly longer than the creamier marble as this version gets several washes applied after the puddling has dried to ‘flatten’ the marble and take out some of the contrast between the darker orange tone and the lighter base colour.  The finished tiles look really nice and I’m excited to see what the floor look like when it’s been laid in the theatre…I’ll make sure I get a picture or two next week.

In the construction department (as well as having the new wall saw delivered yesterday!) the team have been working hard on the opera production.  They have started welding some steel frames which will make up the side walls of a large truck section of scenery.  The use of a jig means that each piece of wall is exactly the same and helps to hold the metal in place so that they can easily be ‘tacked’ and then welded.  It also speeds up the whole process as it means that only the first section needs to be measured and squared up. 

Along with the welding, the construction team have been working on some treads for the opera too.  These are just a basic set of get-off treads which will be used backstage but as with most things in design realisation, it’s all about learning a process.  These simple treads are made in the same was as more elaborate staircases; the principles are the same.  Now that the construction team have mastered the skill of making treads…it’s onwards and upwards…litterally! 

Prepare for a busy one next week as all three departments begin concentrating on building and painting the props and scenery for this term’s Opera Le nozze di Figaro by Mozart…

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Marvelous Marble!

Walking through the workshops today you’d think the scenic artists had lost their marbles (couldn’t resist!) with the amount of floor they are painting.  The team have been concentrating this week on creating marbled tiles for the upcoming production of Twelfth Night which contains a series of floor tiles, in varying sizes and painted to look like two different types of marble. 

Here you can see the process as the team tackle the cream marbled tiles.  The method consists of ‘puddling’ darker washes onto a cream base so it creates a mottled pattern and then using sponges and bobbly rollers to remove the excess liquid and add a feeling of texture.  When dry the tiles get a coat of dead flat glaze to protect them so they look as good as they do today, right up until the last show. 

Pictures of the orange marble to follow this week as well as what is happening in props and what the construction team have been working on…stay tuned…

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Blog at


at Guildhall School of Music & Drama

Guildhall Theatre Technology Blog

Theatre Technology pathway blog at Guildhall School


The Guildhall School of Music & Drama's Prop Making Weblog

Armadillo Artifacts

Relics and curios.

Design Realisation (Scenic Art, Scenic Construction and Prop Making)

Step backstage into the workshops at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama

%d bloggers like this: