Posts Tagged With: Mould

Autumn Action

So, I have finally found a moment to fill you in on what we’ve been up to so far this term in Design Realisation. We have just finished the sets for our three opening productions of the term and we are now embarking on the fourth and it’s only October!

The first show to go up was our autumn  drama, ‘August.’ The set was designed by Libby Watson and performed in our Milton Court studio theatre. As this was a no build show there were only elements of scenic art and props to make.

The perimeter of the stage was draped in heavy brown curtains with a blackened gradient towards the bottom. The effect was produced by spraying a black wash along the bottom of the curtains and fading it up towards the top.

Below our 2nd year scenic artist Libby creates the gradient on one of the curtains in the paint shop.


Scenic art also undertook the task of painting the floor cloth, which was designed as an abstract watery mix of earthy colours.

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The process began with a yellow ochre wash and then washes of the other colours were applied to the damp base and blended in to give a smudgy appearance to the painting. More defined lines and details were added in over the top once the bottom layers had dried.

In props our 2nd year student Alex had the task of creating 12 breakable plaster vases which would be shot to pieces during the play. (All very dramatic!)

img_2941Above: Alex and Props Lecturer Pat going through the process of moulding the vases.

The process was a tricky one as the vases had to have fairly thin plaster walls in order for them to break effectively on stage. It was difficult to get the walls of the vase to the correct thickness, many of then turning out to be too thin and in need of filling/ reinforcing.

Once the vases were cast they were cleaned up and painted to give a handmade rustic effect before being glazed.


Simultaneously our DR students were working on realising Amelia Jane Hankins’ designs for The Crucible. Set in our Milton Court theatre,the design consisted of a woodland, created by twisted ropes partially concealed by a wall of uniformed sawn timber which continued onto the floor.img_2942Above: model box of Crucible design

img_2945 Due to the colour of the wood in Amelia’s design, our scenic artists had to apply pale brown and green washes to the sawn timber planks, this enhanced the grain and helped to create a uniformed hue over all the pieces of timber.

In props our students were also kept busy making bespoke benches for the set which had a very satisfying, chunky quality and aesthetically matched the uniformed and clean design of the set.




To complete the trilogy of productions so far this term, we have just put up the finishing touches on the set for our double opera Iolanta/Mavra designed by Bridget Kimak.


Our construction team led by our third year student Bryan, had the task of building the set walls from timber frames and tri-wall cladding. The tri-wall was key to the design as it was important for light to be able to shine through the walls.

In scenic art our students led by our third year Lana painted the walls in a translucent green blend of colours. img_2990img_3034

This was effective in giving the walls an almost mouldy feel to them and the light bleeding through the paint also helped to enhance this effect.

The opera double has been a very prop heavy production and our props department led by Constance has done an amazing job at producing some very weird and wonderful prop makes.

The plate stack which was a feature of the room was a great success. It was made up from a selection of plastic plates, cutlery and takeaway boxes which had been drilled through and slotted onto one of three metal poles. These poles had been welded onto steel plates and mounted onto an MDF base to create a freestanding piece.


The side walls for Iolanta consists of an intricate layering of steel mesh, pipes and cord to create the look of a mechanical sound wall. This was created by attaching sections of steel mesh to a custom, welded frame and layering a collection of painted PVC tubing over the top to create a random crosshatching of pipes and metal. Thick black and red cord was fastened to the mesh and piping to give the appearance of electrical cables.


Following this Alex made a selection of vacuum form speakers; these were made in sections and in various shapes and sizes and then assembled to create the finished shapes. The forms were then spray painted and attached to the frame using cable ties.

Next came the mound of clothes! As part of Bridgets design the props department had to create a giant mound of clothing. This was created from several sets of treads, made in construction, which were then covered with layers of blue foam to disguise the hard edges and corners and then wrapped in canvas. The canvas was then painted in a patches of random colour before the many items of clothing (I think we emptied all the charity shops in East London) were splayed out and glued over the top of the canvas.

The result was a fantastically messy assortment of colour! (My OCD urge to tidy became very difficult to control at this stage!)

…and Constance was crowned Queen of the mound!

img_3031…spot the students?!..

We are now well in to rehearsals on the opera and the workshops are preparing all they need to begin the build of our Great Expectation set. Which, from the rumours, will give me some great ‘bloggable’ material!

Until then….


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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…

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Fowl play and fair game in the props department…

This week the props team, part of the design realisation department here at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, have been working on a very different set of props for our upcoming opera Owen Wingrave. The team have been making dead pheasants and hares for the production which will be hung to look like they have been hunted.

Here you can see Meg and Tom working on the pheasants and hares, a male and female of each animal. Real fur and feathers were used for the animals to add a sense of realism to the props. They were created by wrapping the skins around armatures made up from a combination of polystyrene, wood and cast plastic for the heads with realistic glass eyes added. I think you will agree they look fantastic and very realistic!

Another interesting props for Owen Wingrave is a dead body (I’m not giving anything away!) which second year design realisation student Hannah has been working on. The hands have been cast in flesh coloured silicone from a plaster mould of prop’s lecturer Pat’s hand. The dummy has been bloodied up and wrapped in plastic sheeting complete with tag and I must say he too looks very realistic…and creepy!

Well if that hasn’t made you want to see our latest opera Owen Wingrave I don’t know what will. Click here for more information about the show and tickets.

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All hands on deck!

With the fit-up deadline for Le nozze de Figaro just around the corner the design realisation workshops have been a wee bit busy to say the least…

The construction department have been welding and cladding the huge walls and ceiling pieces for the ‘box truck’ which have now been painted white and are having a high gloss glaze coat to resemble a melamine finish.  All of the pieces have a steel frame core and are clad in timber and MDF so the process is a long and arduous one.  Still there is one way of getting people to laugh even when it’s been a long day- tell them to look serious when you take a picture of them! Jo managed to keep his concentration more than Anna did, but they’re both doing a great job cladding one of the ceiling pieces here.

The scenic art department are also working on a BP screen which will form the size of a soft-sided lorry.  Hannah has been painting a large logo onto the screen which she sampled last week and I must say I think it looks wonderful! Here are some photos of her work in progress:

The props team have been once again making too many things for me to keep track of! With the 7 meter long trees out of the way the department can focus on making all of the other props for the show.  One of the props that I caught in progress was Lisa’s eagle.  Two of these figures are being made to adorn the tops of some flagpoles which have a lovely gold finish.  I caught some photos of Lisa working on the mould and one of the pieces cast in a plastic casting resin.  They are going to look beautiful when they are finished. 

As well as the teams of second and third year students working in the design realisation department, we have also had the help of some of our first year students too on their ‘production carousel’ where they get chance to put some of their skills into action working on props and scenery for the productions.  More serious faces…

Well it’s clear that the looming deadline has not taken the fun out of the work; there is still a lot to achieve in a short space of time but I am looking forward to getting some nice shots of the finished set.  Fit up starts officially for us tomorrow so keep an eye out for some more interesting photos…


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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…

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