What's Opera Doc?

I returned from maternity leave with the operas before me. These are designed by my favorite of our regular designers. This year they are performing Dido and Aeneas by Purcell and L'enfant et les Sortileges by Ravel.
This piece is a cut drop merely referred to as the flying disc.

Here is the rendering:

Flying Disc Rendering

I got very excited when I saw this. To me, this is a scenic's dream. In discussions with the designer he said he was going for the color and the texture. That I can work with.

Started out starched and primed.

Flying Disc 1

I snapped out a charcoal grid and drew in where the cutout sections would be:
Flying disc 3

Base coat and redrew the cutout lines so I wouldn't lose them

Flying Disc 5

The next several shots are what it looked like at the end of each day (I was working on another project at the time as well...to be seen in the next post)

Flying Disc 6
Flying Disc 7

Flying Disc 8
Flying Disc 9

Flying Disc 10
Flying Disc 11

With the painting complete, I cut out the drop

Flying Disc 12

Flying Disc 14

Flying Disc Detail 2

Flying Disc Detail 1

The last step was gluing netting to the back to keep it all in place while it hangs. I failed to get a photo of that while in the shop, but I'll snap one when we hang it.

Next post....hideous turquoise marble.

Hey I'm alive....and working

I know I fell of the face of the earth for a while but I have a really good excuse. I had this little guy two weeks early on September 5th:

Our little guy

His early arrival was quite unexpected and I wasn't quite wrapped up at work yet. Actually the day I had him I planned on getting everything set up for the person covering me. At least I made my anniversary date on the 4th.

So here's the show I had to abandon:

Carousel. The real problem with this, besides being 9 months pregnant in a very hot shop, were the renderings. This designer relies heavily on PhotoShop, which renders fine detail into a blur of pixels. If the original picture is poor to begin with, then it is just hell.

I started with the cut drop trees. As usual square out a box, staple down the muslin and starch. Here's a great photo of the magic of starch.

Starched and unstarched

I do have to admit I was proud of myself being able to square these out perfectly by myself despite being so very, very pregnant.

End of first day

At the end of the first day I had it drawn out and basic color laid in.

The second day:
Next day

The third day:
Stage right day 3
Stage left day 3

The fourth day:
Stage right day 4
Stage left day 4

All done:
Complete Stage Left
Complete Stage Right

We rolled up the drops to store until closer to load in. They were cut and attached to netting later on (after I went on maternity leave).
It was working on those that I had an epiphiny. Working in my socks while pregnant was killing me. I got the bright idea to get a pair of Crocs to wear on drops. It gives my feet support and is gentle on the fabric. Plus, I can dip them in a bucket to scrub them clean.

Here are the grassy hills:

Ground Row Base

This is how I painted the grass...with an ostrich feather duster.
Feather Duster Grass

Grass first coat

Ground row complete

Small Fence

I did a few other pieces but didn't get pictures. The next, and last thing I worked on was the carousel top. The rendering for this was the worst I think I've ever been handed. It was blurry mess of pixels. I think it was a photo scanned in and colored. I took a lot of artistic license with it out of necessity. Here it is:

Carousel top finished

Carousel top detail

And then the next day I went into labor at 4 am.


I'd be posting new photos of what I've been working on lately if I didn't have to spend my evening staring at pixels in PhotoShop just trying to get a decent enough rendering to use. Pregzilla really wants to beat this designer to a pulp. This designer is very PhotoShop dependent, he doesn't paint or draw any renderings. So I've got blurry drawings to work from....that is for the few drawings I have. *sigh*

So here I am listening to Weird Al while I manipulate pixels.

Madame Butterfly Ceiling

This was my favorite project for this job, despite the challenges.

This is the rendering I received. What the rendering is lacking is information explaining that the background is gold leaf. Unfortunately I didn't get that information until we had bid for the job and ordered the paint. The panels were designed to be heavyweight muslin stretched over a steel frame. This would be the first time I ever gilded fabric. I went with imitation leaf to save on cost and for size. The rendering shows squares that are 6 3/4 inches....the largest leaf I could obtain was 6 1/4 inches. The designer had no issue with the change.

I treated the fabric as I would any drop; squaring it out, stapling it down, starching and basecoating. The base color is the color between the squares on the rendering.

Ceiling Base coat

I drew the florals out on grided craft paper and made a pounce. Then I pounced with with powdered charcoal and then markered it.

Line drawing

Ceiling line drawing

First I laid in the major areas of color:

Color added

Then the black areas:

Black added

Painted florals

Then the rest of the color went down:

Florals complete

It got a couple coats of sealer to make sure the sizing would sit on top of the fabric.

Ceiling detail

Ceiling painted

We decided to stretch them on the frames before I gilded them. I took me much of a day to apply the gold leaf sizing to the fabric. The sizing was brushed on all the areas where the gold leaf would remain.This is what it looked like after a day of applying the leaf. I had about a 36 hour window from when I applied the sizing to adhere the leaf. I would apply the size one day, then the leaf the next. The third day I would clean up the edges and burnish it.

Ceiling Leafed

This shows what an area looks like after it has been leafed.
Leaf applied

This is how I ended up removing the leaf from the areas where there was no sizing, as well as burnishing it into the fabric.
burnishing scrubbing

And this is what the same area looks like after. It was like I had a magic brush and the painting just miraculously appeared from it.


And here are the finished pieces:

Ceiling panel

Ceiling gold leaf

Butterfly ceiling complete


Butterfly Detail

So that is it. I sealed them since the imitation leaf has a tendency to tarnish. I would probably change a few things if I were to do it again. I'm not sure I would stretch it first the next time, or not. We did have some issues with sag; the sizing pulled it tight but it ended up sagging again later. Some of it has to do with the size and some with how it was stretched to begin with.