Posts Tagged With: wood grain

Full speed ahead into the New Year


As the first blog of 2016, I would like to wish you all a Happy New Year and welcome you to an exciting peek at what we’ve have been getting our teeth into in Design Realisation.

The start of the new term has given our DR students three shows to work on, which means their hands have been full and the workshops bustling but they have produced some great work.

The first to go up was combination of two drama’s ‘Pinter’ and ‘Dealers Choice.’ The set, designed by Amelia Jane-Hankin, had to adapt to both pieces of drama and is a simple yet effective, uniformed structure made up of wood panelled columns and flooring.


In construction our students prepared the frames fro the columns by making each side as a separate flat which were then screwed together to make the cuboid structures. Plywood was then cut to size on the wall saw and used to clad the sides of the columns.

Sam took the ‘assassins’ approach to the task at hand.


In scenic art the team painted the ply cladding with a smokey brown woodgrain effect and highlighted areas using a dry brush effect in a lighter grey.

The floorboards were given a woodgrain treatment in two shades of brown, a wash was then applied on top to blend and finally they were glazed over.


Alongside work on the Studio Theatre drama, our DR students were also preparing and beginning work on our Milton Court drama, ‘Top Girls.’ The design, by Dora Schweitzer, includes a collection of wonderfully distorted and somewhat frightening drawn and sculpted figures of women and children.

Scenic art have had their hands full with this one; the first task being to attack the large back cloth. The design featured several sketchy figurative drawings of women which were to be drawn in pastels and oil bars onto a black cloth.

Our scenic artists began by producing several samples from the references that had been given by the designer. The drawings were mainly created with a white chalky outline and then had highlighted elements and shading added in a selection of yellow, red and orange hues.

Once the designer was happy with the samples it was time to start work on the cloth.

Once the images were traced out onto the cloth using the projector, the students were able to work on individual figures to build up the collective figurative piece.

In addition to the back cloth the design included several sets of tables and chairs which all requires a heavy paint treatment. They started their life as white ikea dining sets and were transformed to look like dark, heavily rusted metal. This effect was achieved in a variety of stages.

Firstly the table frames and chairs had to be sealed with transparent polish and covent garden primer to allow the paint to stick to the metal and plastic. They were then primed with a mix of black and blue/grey paint. Sections of silver foil wrap were glued to small areas and the excess peeled off, to give metallic highlights and pieces of bogus paper were stuck to the table tops to create some texture. After this all the surfaces were given a rusty orange and blue sponge wash and once this had dried then the painters were able to go over elements of the chairs and tables adding more detailed and saturated rust colours before glazing over them to seal the paint treatment.

The results were pretty impressive…


Our students in props also had their hands full making a number of dummies that were to be flown in over the set.

These were made by pasting brown paper with glue around a foam figurine, cutting the dried paper shell away from the figure and filling inside with two part expandable foam to make the figures solid. Armature wire was then inserted into the bodies to create joints to enable the figures to be manipulated into different positions.



No comment…  :-/

The props department then added hands and facial features using armature wire and mod-rock and the figures were painted and clothed ready to be placed in the set.


The last of the trio of shows is the Opera which this term is, ‘The Rape of Lucretia.’

The design, by Jamie Vartan, resembles that of a war trench which has required scenic art to create a ‘mud’ floor which covers the stage. This was achieved by covering sheets of MDF with a layer of idenden and working into the texture. The texture around the edges of the floor were enhanced by mixing the idenden with foam crumbs and layering that onto the MDF.

Once dried the floor was then painted.

The set is surrounded by a timber border which is made up of the largest lumps of wood I’ve ever seen! Getting these into the building took an act of God!….Or perhaps just an incredible team effort!

These along with the treads made by construction are all in the process of being treated with a paint wash before they are glazed.


Props is probably the busiest department with regards to work on the opera. As part of the final scene there is a dramatic reveal of a graveyard complete with 1 million white crucifix’s and a blooming meadow. Lana and Jonathan have been working hard to create these pieces using a combination of artificial turf and dried shrubbery which they are painting to resemble wild flowering plants. As the plants have to be harvested as part of the Opera, each plant stem had to have a hole drilled into the plywood base under the turf for it to be planted in and harvested from. This was no quick job!

As opera fit up approaches, our DR students are making the finishing touches to the set. I would usually be saying there’s a frantic rush or final push to get everything finished but there is actually a rather calm and relaxed atmosphere circulating the workshop… I’m expecting there to be a huge panic next week when we realise we forgot to build that life size carousel!


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

Machinal and Opera Scenes

Much has been happening in design realisation over the past couple of months. We’ve been working on Machinal in the Silk Street Theatre and Opera Scenes (designed by our very own Giulia) over in the Milton Court Studio Theatre.


Machinal was a steel sensation! The Designer had imagined a world encased inside a giant steel cage which our students in construction did a great job of realising. The frames were made from lengths of steel which were cut and welded together, we then laid steel mesh over the frame and welded this to it.

moving steel cage   IMG_4316   

Castors were inserted into cut-outs in the frames to allow the doors to glide on and offstage.

IMG_4309  IMG_4312 IMG_4310


The paint shop was faced with the challenge of the floor which was designed to look like the guidelines from a technical drawing. It all had to be very precisely measured out according to the scenes and placement of the furniture and props. It was then marked out with chalk lines, taped off, painted and then glazed which sent us all cross eyed but looked really effective in the end.


Samples for the painted lines


So many lines!…

Props also had lots to do for the show and the team put together some great pieces!

A rather large bed unit was made and painted with a wood grain effect on the surrounding headboard and cabinets and some great art deco light fixings were added too! Props were also responsible for a series of charming desks covered with an array of interesting 1920s/30s electrical components, typewriters and  corded telephones as well as an epic sofa which made its dramatic entrance onto the set in two halves…they even threw in a kitchen sink!

IMG_0416[1] IMG_0417[1] IMG_0415[1] IMG_0351[1]

IMG_0361[1]  IMG_0363[1]  IMG_0418[1]

The Result!

IMG_4334 IMG_4347 IMG_4351



Opera Scenes

Opera Scenes was a fantastically textured and grungy expanse of blue which worked very well in the space. This set really allowed the paint shop to work it’s magic.

As usual an array of samples were put together by the team and then the chosen finishes were translated onto the set pieces.

IMG_0396[1] IMG_0357[1] IMG_0354[1] IMG_0379[1]


Steel set piece partway through having wood grain effects applied.


Flower boxes!


floor stencilling

 The sets were successful and the teams in construction, props and paint all worked really hard and achieved some amazing results. Both sets have now been struck and the workshops are preparing for the next set of shows so watch this space for a whole new set of fun and games!

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

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: