It's a circus in here

Last few weeks have been lacking in content and Friday Flashbacks, but I've not been idle. If anything I've been busier than ever. Even without a shop full of scenery, I've had my hands full getting Little Dude ready for Kindergarten.

Meanwhile in the shop I've been tackling our big musical for the fall, Barnum, or as I like to call it, 'Holy crap, that's a lot of soft goods!'

This show is filled with drops, banners, swags, and painted fabric galore. There's also a few hard scenery pieces (doors, circus plinths, poles, pedestals, rolling units, and a staircase of  building) to keep me busy as well. Oh and there's the elephant....or rather the lower half of one. (you will see).

So let's get you caught up, shall we?

The first project I was able to start was the Jumbo signs.These were the only things I had muslin on hand for. Stretched over frames like a canvas, the muslin was then sized, based and the layout drawn on it.

The inked letters ready to paint.

In progress. You can see the white being added to the lettering on the back one.

Nearly done.

And done. I really like how these came out. It was a nice start to the show.

 While working on the above signs, the muslin order came in and I started on the rest of the soft goods. The side walls have striped swagged curtains, reminiscent of a circus tent. The longer pieces are for those. The shorter piece farther on is for the remaining banners.

And behold the magic of starch.

I seem to have forgotten the camera on the day I completed the 'white' stripes and the banners.  Pulled up the 'white' ones and started on the red. Starched and painted.

These were then pulled up and sewn together. Now the await flame proofing and the the finishing decorative swag detail.

Time for the portal drop. From the box...

squared and stapled down...

Again the camera was lacking on the day I starched, drew the layout, and based the striped portal drop.This is what it will look liked in space. The gold arches are going to be hard pieces that the fabric will be attached to. The top and sides are tied off to poles. Across the top will be flags and swags and lots of showy goodness.

Here's the red stripes. I labeled the heck out of these things. I was terrified of painting the wrong color in the wrong place.

Then the blue stripes.

And done. We have a lot more fabric around the opening area than truly needed, just to be safe.

The extra fabric in the opening is for the Tom Thumb banner, which has a similar background. 
In addition to all of those soft-goods, I've been tackeling a bunch of the hard scenery.

 After this lot, I've dubbed the show Holy Soft-goods and Geometry.  In this picture you can see how we recycle our materials. The back of the piano looks like a bunch of spooky trees because it formerly was apart of this:

That is one reason I go through a lot of primer. 

Here is the lovely diamond pattern that wraps around the wagon edge. Strangely enough the pattern pretty much worked out even. There was a little tweaking on the short end, but not enough to look to horrible.

The plinths offered a few layout challenges. The finished pieces are different sizes from the draftings. The sizes changed due to instructions from the director and pieces we already owned. So I had to tweak measurements a little bit. I went old school geometry on the stars with a protractor and some trammel points.

After all the pencil layout, I inked the lines I needed for painting. Then I rolled another coat of primer. This will cover the pencil lines but leave the Sharpie still visible enough to use as a guide.

I had a bid more trouble with the circular plinths. I figured to do the layout I'd need a vertical line on these pieces. But you might notice that the bases are not straight cylinders but tapered like cones. This posed a problem for getting an accurate line. That's where the miracle of the laser level comes in. Gave me a perfect vertical line to start from. From there I measured around and kept dividing until I had enough points. As you can see from the front plinth I ended up needing to add more to get the right look, hence the black lines and red lines. I took a different approach on the second one. I couldn't just transfer the measurements because they were different sizes.  I wrapped around a thin strip of paper and cut to size. Then I just kept folding and marking to divide it evenly.and then used it as a ruler to mark points. Much easier. I couldn't

Then some blue tape and I (finally got to painting).

The best advice with the blue tape is to remove it as soon are you are painting. If you let it dry you run the risk of pulling off what you just painted.

And that's as far as I got...Little Dude fell ill and I had to switch into Mom mode. 

Now you are caught up on Barnum. Next week will start off with finishing the plinths and the wagon, flameproofing the soft-goods and tweaking a previously painted scrim.

Flashback Friday

Today I'm going to take us on a short journey back into September of last year.  And a simple main-stage production of Antigone. Being performed in the round (meaning the audience is surrounding the stage on all sides) meant that were not a lot of big scenery requirements. Therefore a set designer wasn't hired for this production. The director had something in mind and gave me a rough sketch....which I can't seem to find. It was a rough outline of a bearded face with bleeding eyes. (I'll add a pic if I happen across it)
He wanted the audience to walk in and see this face there on the floor that had a 'stone like' look to it and the words around the outside. So I did a little work in Photoshop and sent this back to him as a more refined design.

He loved it and I actually began painting it before the end of my contract the summer before; finishing the base look of the floor.  Upon returning I started in on the head and the lettering.

The director had expressed a wish that he would like the face to glow under the lights and have that effect fade in and out. I brought up the black light reactive paints and we had a plan. I even found paint that would glow red for the blood coming from the eyes.

When the director came to see the finished floor, he was positively giddy. Unfortunately in space there were some issues with getting the same results from the lighting designer's equipment.  Mostly because the lighting designer made a lot of false assumptions on what would work. I ended up throwing another coat of the UV paint on right before opening (and missing Stitches East). Either way I think the end result was rather stunning. 






Flashback Friday

I promised flashbacks and here is your first one. I was going to begin with the show I had abruptly stopped with, but I have a recent project that is more near and dear to my heart.

We have these 'deteriorating' columns. They have never been used in a show since I have been here, but we rent them out. A lot. Which is amazing because they look like this:

Now these embody many of my painting pet peeves. The first is bad marble in general. It irks me. I strive to make my marble realistic. Whenever I come across actual marble I become mesmerized in trying to figure out how I would recreate it with paint. This has, more than once, led to me walking into walls or tripping over something/someone. The second is the purple 'fantasy' marble. Designers love this sort of thing for some reason. Marble doesn't exist in those colors, but you paint what you are told. However that is no excuse for the 'pooka-pooka' sponge marks on the marble. I should not be able to see each and every spot you plunk down your sponge. And frankly, if it is marble, I should not be able to see that you used a sponge at all. Then the veining. Oh vey, they veining! No, no and NO! Someday I'll do a post regarding this....too much to include here.

I've seen these things go in and out of our shop on rentals and they make my twitchy every time I see them. When a few of them returned from a end of year event and I had some unoccupied time before the end of my contract I saw my chance. I approached my boss with the proposal of repainting them to look better and make them more attractive for rental and use on stage (read- not purple). Don't get me wrong. I love purple, but a more realistic and neutral color would be more versatile for rentals and productions. He thought it was a great idea and said go for it.

And I did.

The first step was to kill the purple. It took two coats of primer and two coats of  the base color. I don't care what the manufactuaer says; their purple (and some blues and pinks) have dye in them. It can create havoc in other situations, but in this one it just made it hard to cover.

The new marble choices were a creamy brown for the top and keep the black on the bottom. These were my inspiration samples.

Once I had the base set, the glazing of colors began. 

This picture shows a good example of the difference between the base coat and the glazes.

Another example of the differences in the process. The one on the right is the first layer of glazes. The one on the left is a few steps further in the process. 

 This one I was rather happy with. Much prettier than the purple.

With the glazes done it was time to start veining. This was the hardest and most stressful part. I really obsessed over making them look realistic. On a table top or a section of wall it is much easier than on a item you can see from 360 degrees. I tweaked it in some spots but really worked to make it seem like these were cylinders of real marble.

I liked these two sections.

Then onto the bases an the portoro marble. I worked them as if each face was a different slab of marble applied to the base structure. 

The linear nature of this marble felt so very strange to me, but it was fun to do. I'd never painted this type before. 

And here is the whole lot. Big improvement, no? Much classier and more likely to be used on stage as well as for events. I'm rather proud of them. There are areas I'm still not happy with but overall I think they are a tremendous improvement. And it was far more fun than just cleaning the shop.

Here are a few more individual shots.

I hope my first Friday Flashback didn't disappoint.