Prop Making is a specialized craft that requires a certain amount of attention to detail, good communication skills and an eye for aesthetics. It is a largely creative process, and a Prop Maker must be willing to take risks and be flexible.
A prop maker’s job is to design, build and maintain a set of three-dimensional pieces that are used in a theatrical production. These items are generally computer modelled, although they can also be created with actual materials. The prop may be made of wood, metal, plastic or latex.
Prop making can be a professional or an avocation. As with any crafts, the more effort you put into your creations, the better the results. Props are made in a variety of sizes, from tiny items for a small stage production to large models for film. There are no hard and fast rules, but a Prop Maker’s skills are often needed for a range of industries.
A Prop Maker might work in a studio, a shed or even an industrial unit. They may also have an assistant to assist with the project. They might be required to work under tight deadlines. In this context, it is a good idea to be familiar with a wide variety of design packages and tools.
Typically, a Prop Maker will work closely with an art director or a production designer. The designer will provide rough ideas of what they need. If the design is complex, the Prop Maker might research the subject matter and come up with an alternative solution.
The Prop Maker will then create at least two of each item for the production. Some designers will specify particular construction methods or materials. For example, the prop for a pigeon may be made of calico or wire frame, while the pigeon itself will be made of latex. This is just one example of how the old adage “necessity is the mother of invention” is true.
The Prop Maker will then take the props to a Paint Shop to add the effects. Before the production, they will meet with the designer to discuss how the props will be used. Additionally, they will need to decide how much space they will need and how they will be stored.
Although there are many considerations, the Prop Maker’s Workshop Manual offers a number of tips for successful prop making. It contains a comprehensive list of materials and techniques for making hundreds of items, from small props to large theatrical structures.
The book is written for both beginners and more experienced makers alike. The author describes the various types of materials and techniques and provides step-by-step instructions for each. His main aim is to provide a general introduction to prop making, while at the same time providing some proficiency with the techniques used.
The Prop Maker’s Workshop Manual covers everything from the traditional processes to modern practices. It is the definitive guide for the materials used in performing arts.