Scrim replay

Remember the scrim from Macbeth/Midsummer? Well it came back to torment me again. This time we recycled it for Opera North. How does such a thing happen? Same designer. He's great about reusing and recycling set pieces, as well working within our budget restraints.

We knew before hand that we would be reusing this, and therefore were careful when we removed it from it's frame. The new configuration for The Magic Flute was much smaller. I was able to get the three panels needed out of two of the original, attempting to keep the flow the the clouds together.

remember this

Using the orginal scrim as a base, I needed to add some blue to the bottom and some line drawings. You may recognize these drawings from the Zodiac Drop. I had hoped they would be the same size as the drop, so that I could reuse the pounce. No such luck. Instead I drew the figures onto the paper under the scrim, where I could just see them through the scrim.

scrim drawing

Here's a view while painting. If you look closely you can see the black sharpie lines beneath the scrim. There is a view of the rendering as well (albeit upside down) The yellow is a muslin overlay that you'll see below.


And here it is complete:

new life

sr scrim

sl scrim

center scrim

On to the overlay. This should have been easy. Unfortunately the rendering wasn't in scale. At least he did label it as such, unlike some other designers this year. I went off of the drafting for size of the panels as well as placement of the eye. The pupil eventually is cut out to show the scrim below, so that placement was important. I hand drew all of the glyphs as opposed to projecting and pouncing them. I had to be a little creative in placement as there was more space on the rendering than on the actual pieces.

Scrim overlay progress

And here they are complete. All that was left to do was cut out the pupil....which I did but didn't take a picture of.

Stage right overlay

centerstage overlay

stage left overlay

And there it is....onto the next project.

The zodiac drop

This is the project that I was just giddy over getting. I'd been hoping for something fun, challenging, and good for the portfolio all year. This designer doesn't seem to let me down, at least not right now. (he designed these two rep shows, as well as the two operas I am currently working on)
Isn't that the coolest. So how to go about this lovely thing. I had settled on a pounce rather quickly. I had wanted to project onto the pounce paper, but not having a wall big enough squashed that idea. Besides I had a fair amount of time to kill before the next bit of stuff was ready and the drop hadn't arrived yet. So I drew it on gridded craft paper. (thank the gods for gridded paper)

full shot pounce

As you can see it takes up pretty much my whole paint deck. Here's a close up of my drawing of Capricorn (of which I am). You can see the grid lines on the paper. The red crosses are marking out every square foot since a horrible head cold plagued me at the time and I kept getting lost. I only drew the necessary details and not every little line. I also didn't bother with the numbers or lettering.

Capricorn closeup

When the drawing was complete I pounced away. I had a bit of carpet that I put under the paper and moved it around , rolling the paper up as I went. That was an uncomfortable day or two crawling around on the floor.


Then the drop came. I flipped the floor paper over so I would have a clean surface, and squared out a box. Next the drop is stapled down and starched. I have a secret love for newly starched drops. They are so clean and beautiful (if done right) and so Zen. They have the potential to be anything, but are still nothing. The scenic's version of the Uncarved Block.


Next was the base coat. It was sprayed and broomed on, then several more layers of spray, fading the edges darker.

Base blues

Then we roll out the pounce, being sure to line it up with the drop.

Pounce rolled out

Since I was pouncing over a dark color I used baby powder instead of powdered charcoal. I've had trouble with the white chalk for chalk lines in the past. And as our ATD pointed out, the shop even smelled like babies. To pounce I filled a cheese cloth bag with powder and attached it to a bamboo so I could do this process while standing. The less crawling the better. And yes, that's a guy's butt.

Pouncing the drop

Once all the lines are powdered, the pounce is carefully rolled up. This is not something to be done in haste as one can smudge the pounced drop or cause air to force more powder though, sometime creating a double image.

All Pounced

And here how it looks with the paper removed. Time to paint.

Pounce removed

Here's a close up of Sagittarius.

Sag pounced

This is my nifty little paint basket to carry my paint and water around without marring the drop.

basket of paint

My brush is held in a bamboo, (much like the pounce bag) to keep me on my feet while working. Bless the person who first though of this. You can see the progress from powder to paint in this picture, as well as the paint basket and the rendering I am working from.


Again another detail.

raven detail painted

This is what it looked like after a full day's painting. I kept moving around depending on what was wet and what I felt like dealing with that point in the day. Virgo was by far the biggest challenge.

zodiac in progress

And here it is. I did all the numbering and lettering free hand.

zodiac in shop 2

And there she baby. This drop is definitely a keeper.

zodiac complete

I should have show pictures in a week or two. I'll be out of town this next week and no computer access until I get back. Wait until you see the projects before me now.

Dandelion fairies

I have a ton of pictures to show...I'll do them by project and then the finished shows. When I finished the scrim it was onto the Dandelion Fairies for A Midsummer Night's Dream. These were a bit of a challenge due to the fact that the heads had to be lighted. It was a collaborative project between me and the head carpenter, with a little of the TD as well.

This was the drawing given to me to work from:

And here they are almost ready for me:
The ladies

The poles look like birch trees because they were recycled sonotube from another show. We reuse as much as possible. The torsos came from this place.

I started draping the took a little while to get a good technique down. It makes it much easier to drape when you can staple right into their bodies. Most people won't let you do that. I padded out their hips with some batting. I also had to leave flaps in the back to access the light switches for the heads.


When they were all draped I coated them with Sculpt or Coat to attach the fabric to the torsos and give it a little more stability. I try to make things bomb proof, especially when they are being handled by students. Then it was sprayed with a coat of flat white.

all draped

Then came the fun part. I sprayed the green. The taller ones were a bit of a challenge trying to maneuver the spray gun and my pregnant belly on a ladder. Since I was using a small detail sprayer I kept having to refill often. Hey, it's better than a stair-master.

Green spray

I also painted the leaves as I did the bodies. I didn't want to have to keep cleaning the gun as I changed colors. Having the sink so far from my working area makes me plan this things out a lot more.


Then onto the blue spray. After I did some more touch up with the green.

Blue spray

And here's a finished lady sans head. The lining on the leaves was done with an airbrush.

Dandelion fairy

Here's the frames for the heads, including their nifty light sources. Around these frames I shaped and sewed polyester batting. Our head carpenter then spray glued another layer on, which I fluffed. I don't have process pictures of that. You'll see when I post the show pictures. They did have a neat effect though.

Head frames

And here's the dirty mess my paper was after the scrim, some white panels (we ended up cutting) and the fairies. I didn't want to lay my next project down on this, so I flipped the paper over. I try to make it last as long as possible. Theatre isn't the most earth friendly business so I try to do what I can.

Dirty paper