The Mikado

I've had the pictures of these sitting here for a while waiting for me to write. I've a bit of something new to add this time too...
The fall musical: The Mikado.
I was very excited when I got the plans for this show. It was mostly simple but had a few elaborate elements to it.

I began with the carving of the details on the top and bottom of the arch. Those could be done without having the actual arch there to work with. I left extra to allow leeway when the curves were cut.

These were done from pink foam board which is typically used for insulation. I transferred a full scale drawing onto the foam and began to cut it out with a Rotozip. This was a great tool to use for this. It makes a horrible mess but I like that one can control the depth of the cutting blade. Here is the begining of the cutting process.


Here are the finished pieces. Since all the lines on the drawings couldn't be complete cut outs I did much of it in a half depth. These are the center pieces.


Here are the two for the bottom of the curves. I left extra material so that we could cut the curves to the arch for a better fit when it was built.


From there I moved on to the majority of the set. It was a fairly straight forward process for textured white walls. The texture came from an additive bought from the store. Do you recognize the columns from here?


The bottoms of these columns were to have a copper patina look.


The next project was the gilded screens. This took some research as I was concerned about the painting on top of the gold leaf. I also thought it would be a fun project to try some time lapse with.

The panels were done on MDF. First you see the primer, than a colored base coat. The sizing goes on white but dries clear. Then the application of the leaf, painting the design, and sealing the whole thing. The trim was attached after. The leafing was done with Dutch metal in #2. It was sized with Sepp Gilding Size and sealed with Rolco Acrylic Topcoat. Here is a still of the finished pieces.


Last came the gold fru-fru on the arch, beams and columns. The beams and arch pieces were done in the same manner as the other foam pieces. The columns were a bit more of a challenge as it had to wrap around the top. After some frustrating trial and error a solution was had. The foam was cut slightly larger than the design and then ripped on a bandsaw into very thin layers. This was a challenge considering the material was only 1-1/2" thick. I glued the sheets together with Spray 78, which is specifically made for this type of foam. (It doesn't melt it and cause toxic fumes) The layers were wrapped around some off cuts of the column tubes and held with shrink wrap to dry.


The pictures are of blue foam because we ran out of the pink and there was some blue handy in the size required. For the record there is a difference between the two. The blue foam is softer and less rigid. This makes it more suiting to wrapping around a curve than the pink foam, but less suitable for this sort of carving. The other cap was done with pink foam. Here is the the carved piece.


The pieces were then coated with a product called Flexcoat. It seals up the foam and makes it paintable and adds some strength to it. The arch pieces were coated in the same way and then painted with their required finishes.


Then they were all based, sized and then gilded.


The caps on top were pink foam turned on a lathe by our shop foreman. For all the fuss these were they really added a nice touch to the set.


Here are pictures of the whole set. I also sewed the purple banners. The applique was done with an iron on adhesive.




A full stage shot. I did have to go back and add a gray glaze on the walls with the circular windows. Apparently seeing drawings of white walls, research of white walls, and seeing the actually white walls in the shop isn't enough to prepare a director for the shock of white walls on the set. The brown/gray area downstage is actual crushed stone. Overall it was a fun show to do, and consisted of a good balance of easy to bang out techniques with more elaborate ones.