A Very Vintage Christmas – Retro Mid Century Xmas Ornaments

As much as we may be in denial about winter being here, it’s hard to deny Christmas is around the corner when you’re bombarded by Christmas music in all the malls and decorations starting to pop up in stores and street corners. Instead of grumbling about how it all starts “too early”, we’ve decided to embrace it and take this time to help you prep for your own holiday celebrations, vintage style. Here’s our list of where to source the best decorations for those of you who like a “classic” feel.

Cheerful Reproduction Ornaments

Nothing says retro Christmas like the classic Shiny Brite ornaments. The most popular ornaments of the 1940s & 50s, they faded out of fashion in the later half of the 20th century, but in 2001 Christopher Radko began reproducing them, complete with vintage style box! You can find them a lot of places online, including Amazon.

 

 

Kurt Adler is another company that has really nailed the vintage aesthetic. You can find his stuff on Amazon as well, and he’s got everything from sparkly glass ornaments to small novelty characters, bubble lights, and classic clip-on birds, as seen below.

Garlands, Tinsel & Icicles – Oh My!

No vintage tree is complete without some classic garlands and tinsel. Retro Festive has a super fun popcorn garland (if you want the look without the salty temptation) The Holiday Barn has a  candy garland if you prefer something sweeter, and of course there’s the classic Shiny Brite garland, again from Amazon.

For tinsel, you can try a garland like this kitchy pink one from The Holiday Barn, get some beautiful handmade tin icicles from Pietersma Tinworks, or go with a real classic like Brite Star tinsel strands. While all of these are available from Amazon, I have lucked out before and come across some Brite Star type stuff at Dollarama. They get their share of decent stuff and it’s dirt cheap!

Retro Keepsake Ornaments

Maybe you’re not looking to replicate a classic tree, and just want something to show off your retro-loving personality. If that’s the case, there are a tone of cute and kitschy “keepsake” ornaments out there, like these fun little guys from Old World Christmas or Winterworm (bonus – they’re in our colours!).

 

You can get both of those on Amazon. Or you can check out specialty stores like The Holiday Barn and find ones like these retro cars and trailers, which are always fun.

Of course you can also take your chances scouring vintage shops, Etsy or Ebay for some authentic vintage pieces, though the prices can be steep, and if you’re worried about little hands or paws knocking things over, you might want to steer clear of the real thing.

What’s your favourite spot to score a vintage style ornament? Let us know in the comments below.

-E.

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Cheque, please!

Our director (and production designer) Emily Dix quickly walks you through the process for making a faux cheque for theatre.

Till Next We Trod The Boards

I get a kick out of little details in things, which is why I often spend too much time on small prop details that likely won’t be noticed by anyone but myself. Today’s example? The certified cheque prop needed for Bygone Theatre’s upcoming production of His Girl Friday.

Really, it’s a pretty simple one, and since we’re seeing the cheque before it’s cashed, I’m not going to the trouble of embossing it, I did however want something from around the right date, and double-sided.

Since this show will be on a real stage, and not something that requires the same accuracy as was needed for shows like Rope, which practically happened in the audience’s lap, I just searched for 1930s or 1940s certified cheques and settled on one from 1933;

walter-winchell-signed-check-issued-to-international-news-photos-1933-16

I found this through a memorabilia site – it works great as it doesn’t have a big distracting…

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1920s Food Inspiration – Making Faux Food for “Rope”

Our director Emily Dix is busily making props for our upcoming production of Rope. She consulted the fabulous website, Food Timeline, for some ideas and then scoured pinterest for pictures of things that looked doable. Here are the results so far.

They may still need a few tweaks – I think the caprese skewers could use some “balsamic vinegar” – but not bad for a first go.

How to Dress the 1920’s – Affordable Modern Day Alternatives to Authentic 20’s Women’s Fashion

We’ve all had that disappointing moment, when, in dressing a period show, we realize how difficult and more so, how expensive authentic period fashion can be.
While one of Bygone’s mandates is to keep our costumes as authentic as possible, in some of my other productions I’ve had to bend the rules and work with modern clothing that mimics the shape and style of period pieces.

In this blog mini-series, I will demonstrate some simple methods for achieving period-esq looks on a budget. If you’ve got some tips of your own, feel free to share them in the comments!

The 1920s Silhouette
Chances are, when most people think of the 1920s, the first image to come to mind is that of the “flapper”. A drop-waist, lots of fringe, knee-length skirt and swinging beads. While this look works for “party girl” characters, or those in a musical, it is not the style that was worn by the majority of women. Still, it is a great stepping stone for a basic women’s silhouette. Let’s examine some basic silhouettes here:

Fig. 1 – Here is a 1920 silhouette from the Fashion-Era website. Early in the decade styles were still fairly conservative. Hemlines reached below mid-calf, exposing no more than the ankles, and empire-waists were still common. Sheath-style, tube-like dresses that gave the women a androgynous look were popular and floppy hats, low on the brow, were often worn (see my blog on hats for more details).

Fig. 2 – Another silhouette courtesy of Fashion-Era , this time from 1922. Note the drop-waist. Flowing, light-weight fabric in the skirt.

Fig. 3 – By the middle of the decade, hemlines were shorter now reaching mid-calf (but still always covering the knee). The drop waist was still fashionable, and the skirts were still often made of flowing fabric.

Fig. 4 – Not an authentic silhouette, but one immediately recognizable as being from the decade. Now the hair is cut short, rather than pinned up, in a style associated with Louise Brooks. Still a drop-waist. Here the skirt seems to be made of fringe or even feathers. The hemline is higher than what would have likely been seen (the knees were rarely revealed).

1920s Colours

The Roaring Twenties saw a wide range of colour in fashion. While only a few decades earlier, most women were wearing dark, dreary colours, the 20’s featured clothing from pastels to bold primary colours. Gowns were generally monochromatic, layering colour-on-colour details and relying on beading or embroidery for variation, rather than mixing colours. This helped to create the long, lean look that was the signature style of the decade.

Fig. 5 – Bold, dark colours for the winter months. Note how the dress itself is nearly entirely one colour – at the very least, monochromatic. A contrasting hat was sometimes worn, and most shoes were black leather.

Fig. 6 – Salmon colours, emerald, and lots of blue. Again, mostly monochromatic although note the high-contrast in the yellow and black gown, and the mixing of natural fur with a bright pastel.

Fig. 7 – More pastel colours for the summer months, and again, blue! Shoes for summer frocks were often of lighter, brighter colours that matched the dress. While there is a lot of detail on the gowns, they continue to be primarily monochromatic.

Fig. 8 – Mixing various shades of the same colour for some visual interest, but still keeping the look monochromatic.

Fig. 9 – Bold, Art Deco inspired styles. Black and white high-contrast gowns with accents in red or pink give a startling, stylized look.

Again, nearly any colour could be used for the 1920s, just remember to avoid any complimentary colours within one outfit for a more authentic look. For additional info, The Vintage Traveler blog has a great post on dating vintage fashion with colour.

1920s Fabrics

A variety of fabrics were available in the 1920s. The majority of things that we purchase today were available then, with the main exception being “stretchy” fabrics (no Lycra in the 20s!). While daily wear was likely simple cotton dresses, I will briefly go over some fabrics that those who do not sew may not be as familiar with:

Chiffon: Made from cotton, silk or synthetic fibers, this sheer, light-weight fabric is woven in a way that puckers the fabric slightly, giving it some stretch and a rough feel. Available in a wide variety of colours it is most common in evening wear and can give an elegant, floating appearance.

Satin: A light-weight, flowing fabric with a glossy front and dull back, satin is another popular formal wear choice. Often associated with nightgowns, this fabric hangs loose and looks stunning when draped. Also available in many colours.

Taffeta: Generally more expensive than the previous two listed, it is a crisp, smooth fabric with a bit of a sheen. Stiff and able to hold some shape, taffeta can be used to create things from corsets, to gowns that maintain a consistent shape. Many colours, but generally less variety (at least in local fabric stores) than the other two, likely due to the cost.

Velvet: A thick, woven, tufted fabric, generally made in deep, dark colours. Smooth and soft, the fabric is associated with nobility and high status, and so the high price tag shouldn’t be a surprise.

I won’t go into too much detail for these, as it is not my area of expertise. However, for a great resource on what fabrics to use, and how to combine them, check out this site.

How-To: 1920s Style in Modern Day Fashion

So what to do with this information now? Certainly those with the budget can source out authentic patterns (Vintage Vogue has a few) and buy expensive fabrics, but when working in community theatre this is rarely an option. To give you an idea of some affordable, modern day pieces that can be used to imitate 1920s fashion, check out my design boards below:

1920s Style from 2014 H&M Dresses

1920s Style from 2014 H&M Dresses

A great resource for affordable dresses is H&M. While the styles you will find here will generally be too short or two revealing to be a really authentic 20s look, there are some dresses that can be a good starting place. Whether you buy a gown that already has a waist, or go for a more loose-fit, flowing style, give the dress a 20s flair by adding an exaggerated drop-waist. A simple way to do this (especially for non-sewers) is to add a sash (remembering to keep it monochromatic!) out of something like satin, tied low on the hips. For those with more sewing knowledge, sleeves could be fashioned out of chiffon or additional beading could be added. Throw on some retro pumps, a few strands of long beaded necklaces, and crop the hair (whether by pinning it up, or cutting it) and you will quickly and cheaply achieve a 20s look.

Sourcing 1980s & 90s Fashion for a 1920s Look

Sourcing 1980s & 90s Fashion for a 1920s Look

The community theatre costumer’s best friend is of course, the thrift shop. When trying to create a 1920s look, I generally go for 1980s and 90s fashions. As you can see in the board above, many of the styles of those decades incorporated the drop-waist, as well as large collars, lengthy sleeves, and an overall loose look. You can find these types of dresses in your local value village, or, if you happen to have some old patterns lying around, can make them and tailor them as required.

Finally, online resources like ebay and etsy often have real vintage, or vintage styled clothing. They are worth a look, at least for inspiration, if not to actually purchase the garments. Costume and party stores will often have flapper costumes, but these are generally very stylized and won’t do if you’re trying for a serious period piece. However, the cost is sometimes low, so I keep these in mind for things like dance numbers that require a lot of performers. When trying to do a cheap flapper look, simply create a headband with a feather accent, wear it low on the brow, include a sleeveless, straight-fitting tank top and a low-riding skirt, preferably out of fringe or something that moves. Throw on some cheap plastic beads and voila! Not a look I often need for my shows, but it does in a pinch.

So there you have it! A brief how-to on 1920s women’s fashion for theatre. There are tons of great resources out there, and to be honest, I usually start with a simple google search for my inspiration. Do you have any great 1920s resources? Share them here in the comments, or on our facebook page!

All for now,

E.

St. Nicholas Christmas Ornament – from 1 sheet of paper

Love this! Helps us get in the holiday spirit leading up to our “Retro Radio Hour: Holiday Special”!

Wings of Whimsy

I loved Anna’s idea on Tuesday, of making the Victorian St. Nicholas book pages into a small ornament! So much so, that I jumped to the task last night, and kept at it way past my bed time… 😛

Here it is, my tiny St. Nicholas Christmas Ornament book, made out of 1 sheet of paper, ready for you to download and make your own:

Wings of Whimsy: St. Nicholas Ornament Book - free for personal use #printable #ephemera #victorian

Print, score, cut, fold and glue, and then add some pretty scrap paper as a book cover. I have adjusted the pages so you can also choose to cut away page 16, and tuck page 1 under page 15, for a complete ornament book without extra cover 😀

In case you have not made any of these 1 sheet-of-paper-books before, I’ve also drawn up the assembly instructions. If you are wondering how to do this, you can test print the assembly instruction sheet, and use…

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Walter Crane Cherubs 1900 – Seamless Tile & Printable Papers

Love this! There is some stunning artwork in turn-of-the-century books. We should post some images from some from our connection!

Wings of Whimsy

From the most adorable Walter Crane book “The Baby’s Bouquet – A fresh bunch of old rhymes and tunes” I created this seamless tile with cherubs:

Wings of Whimsy: Cherub Seamless Tile - free for personal use #walter #crane #printable #ephemeraHere is what the original endpaper looks like:

Endpaper, The Baby's Bouquet (1900) by Walter Crane - Open LibraryI used the seamless tile to make some pretty printable papers:

Wings of Whimsy: Cherub Paper Salmon - free for personal use #walter #crane #printable #ephemera Wings of Whimsy: Cherub Paper Liberty - free for personal use #walter #crane #printable #ephemeraWings of Whimsy: Cherub Paper Heliotrope - free for personal use #walter #crane #printable #ephemera  Wings of Whimsy: Cherub Paper Fern - free for personal use #walter #crane #printable #ephemeraWings of Whimsy: Cherub Paper Royal Yellow  - free for personal use #walter #crane #printable #ephemera Wings of Whimsy: Cherub Paper Raspberry  - free for personal use #walter #crane #printable #ephemera

I also tested the tile in two other sizes, if you have photoshop or other image editing tools, you can experiment as you please with the tile, in different sizes and colors:

Wings of Whimsy: Cherub Paper Raspberry  - free for personal use #walter #crane #printable #ephemera  Wings of Whimsy: Cherub Paper Raspberry  - free for personal use #walter #crane #printable #ephemera

Click on the above images to download your favorite cherub papers and mix and match as you please 😀

Here are a few of the stunning pictures from the book, it is well worth checking out:

The Baby's Bouquet (1900) by Walter Crane - Open Library

The Baby's Bouquet (1900) by Walter Crane - Open Library

The Baby's Bouquet (1900) by Walter Crane - Open Library

The Baby's Bouquet (1900) by Walter Crane - Open Library

The Baby's Bouquet (1900) by Walter Crane - Open Library

The Baby's Bouquet (1900) by Walter Crane - Open Library

The Baby's Bouquet (1900) by Walter Crane - Open LibraryThe Baby's Bouquet (1900) by Walter Crane - Open Library

The Baby's Bouquet (1900) by Walter Crane - Open Library

The Baby's Bouquet (1900) by Walter Crane - Open LibraryThe Baby's Bouquet (1900) by Walter Crane - Open Library

The Baby's Bouquet (1900) by Walter Crane - Open Library

The Baby's Bouquet (1900) by Walter Crane - Open LibraryThe Baby's Bouquet (1900) by Walter Crane - Open LibraryThe Baby's Bouquet (1900) by Walter Crane - Open LibraryThe Baby's Bouquet (1900) by Walter Crane - Open LibraryThe Baby's Bouquet (1900) by Walter Crane - Open LibraryThe Baby's Bouquet (1900) by Walter Crane - Open Library

Some of the bookpages would look adorable framed for a nursery, me thinks 😀 Remember my tutorial found HERE if you want to download the bookpages in the best possible resolution 😉

My…

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Let Them Eat Cake! – Making Fake Cakes

Here’s another fun faux food project I learned from Deb Erb at the Stratford Off The Wall Faux Food course.

What You’ll Need:

  1. Dense styrofoam (the type you use will depend on the type of cake you want. While it can get pricey, Deb suggested asking stores like Home Depot if they have broken pieces or scraps you can have discounted or for free)
  2. Cutting tools and file
  3. Super 77 Adhesive Spray
  4. Acrylic paint
  5. Benjamin Moore Stays Clear Acrylic Polyurethane (either Low Lustre or Gloss depending on the effect you want, I used a bit of both – from here on I’ll refer to this as “Stays Clear”. These come in paint cans – you may want to pour it into a smaller container for easier pouring. We used those condiment bottles from the dollar store)
  6. Non-silicone caulking
  7. Gel medium
  8. Spatula, large flat paint brush or jumbo popsicle stick

Optional Supplies:

  1. For strawberries: artificial plastic strawberries (I see these for sale online, and I suspect that in the right season you can get them at craft stores like Michaels, in the floral section), acrylic paint (red, yellow, orange – to give them a more realistic colour), Stays Clear in gloss.
  2. For whip cream: see my instructions in this post, or follow the icing instructions, minus the paint.
  3. Decorative cake plate or doily
  4. For marachino cherries: see my instructions in this post.
  5. For sprinkles: see my instructions in this post.

And again, get creative! Try fun foam for chocolate slices, or put a different type of berry on top. Substitute baby powder for icing sugar, or stick on some birthday candles or other topper. You are only limited by the scope of your imagination!

How to Make Your Fake Cake:

1. Prep the styrofoam base

Find a strong, dense styrofoam. If you want a crumbly cake, like carrot cake, go for one with a more textured middle. Decide on the size and shape of your cake. It is best to base it off of a standard cake pan size, so that it looks more realistic; I went with an 8-inch circle. If you can find pre-cut styrofoam in the shape and size you want, great. Otherwise you’ll need to cut it; I cut mine with a bandsaw. You could likely also use an exacto knife, though it would take longer. After you have the shape you want, round off the edges to give it a more realistic shape, like this:

Round the styrofoam into a cake-like shape

Round the styrofoam into a cake-like shape

File down the edges to give it the look of the top of a cake, one that rose to a slight dome in the oven

If you want a layered cake, like the one I made, repeat this. You may also choose to have a slice removed from the cake, as I did. Simply cut it out with the same tool you used to cut the initial piece (again, I did this on the band saw). When you are happy with the shape and size of your pieces spray the entire surface of each with Super 77; do not stick them together yet.

2. Create a lift for the top layer

If you are not doing a layered cake, skip to step 3. Cut out some thin foam, like Ethafoam  (that thin foam electronics sometimes come wrapped in. This term is also used to described the rounded foam used to seal around windows and doors) to a size just slightly smaller than the size of your cake. You want all the edges showing so that no one notices this foam lift. Attach with Super 77.

3. Paint the “cake”

If you are not taking a slice out of your cake, skip to step 4. Paint the inside of the cake with acrylic paint mixed with a low lustre Stays Clear. To get a realistic effect, it is best to use several shades, sort of sponging some of them on. You can pick out pieces of the styrofoam (before you paint) if you want a crumbly looking cake. I went over parts of mine with a high gloss Stays Clear to give it a moister appearance.

The inner "cake"

The inner “cake”

4. Make the “icing”

Mix up some caulking, gel medium, Stays Clear and acrylic paint in whatever colour you want your icing to be. Work with the ingredients until you get a smooth creamy mixture similar to real cake icing. You can add water if necessary. Sometimes if it gets lumpy, it’s easier to thicken it first with caulk, mix out the lumps,  and then thin it out with Stays Clear or water, rather than just continuing to thin it.

Caulking + Stays Clear + Gel Medium + Paint = icing

Caulking + Stays Clear + Gel Medium + Paint = icing

5. Ice the cake

Starting with your bottom layer (if applicable), apply the icing, being sure to apply a thick, generous amount. It’s up to you whether you go for a more homemade, rustic look (as I did) and leave big, noticable spread marks, or go for something more polished and smooth looking. When you have iced the top of your bottom layer, stick it under the top, and then ice the entire cake, starting with the top and moving onto the sides. You can apply the icing with a thick, flat brush (as I did for most of it), or use a jumbo popsicle stick (I used one for some of the side parts). You could even use a spatula. Just think of it as the same as when icing a real cake.

The foam lift and some "icing"

The foam lift and some “icing”

The iced cake

The iced cake

6. Decorate the cake

I chose to put whip cream and strawberries on mine, but you can really let your imagination go wild here. Look at pictures of cakes online, or better yet, use this as an excuse to buy one and copy it!

To make the strawberries I took artificial plastic ones, and added some depth by painting them a better colour and glazing them. If you can’t find plastic ones, you could likely mold some out of clay (though that may be heavy) or even carve them out of foam, then paint them. The devil’s in the details with this one; be sure to really look at a strawberry and see what’s there. Thinking about adding seeds, making the shape slightly uneven – the closer your copy is the better it will look onstage!

See the original colour underneath

See the original colour underneath

For the whip cream, I used more of the same kind of icing mix, without the pink paint (I did use a bit of creamy white in the mix, but the caulking itself could work as well) and piped it out through a decorative tip. You could use Dry Dex for this but it may be too heavy. Stick the strawberries in while it’s wet.

Strawberries pressed into "whip cream"

Strawberries pressed into “whip cream”

In the end, you should have something like this:

The finished product

The finished product

All done!

All done!

I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream For… Making Fake Ice Cream!

“Forget art. Put your trust in ice cream.” -Charles Baxter, The Feast of Love

A good quote! Thankfully, in this instance, art and ice cream combine for an even better result. This past weekend I took the Faux Food course at Stratford Off The Wall, taught by the lovely and talented Deb Erb. The course was a blast and I learned a ton of techniques in the two short days. I’m going to post some of my work here along with step-by-step instructions on how to make these good-enough-to-eat treats. Keep in mind, all of these are first attempts, and I certainly don’t consider myself a visual artist, so anyone should be able to make something at least as good as these, and any gifted artists out there I’m sure can make something far better!

What You’ll Need:

  1. A tall, glass ice cream dish
  2. Spray cooking oil
  3. Paper towels
  4. Plaster of Paris
  5. An ice cream scoop
  6. Acrylic paint (any colour, depends on your “flavour”)
  7. Benjamin Moore Stays Clear Acrylic Polyurethane (either Low Lustre or Gloss depending on the effect you want, I used a bit of both – from here on I’ll refer to this as “Stays Clear”. These come in paint cans – you may want to pour it into a smaller container for easier pouring. We used those condiment bottles from the dollar store)
  8. Paint brushes, mixing dishes & water (to clean brushes)

Optional Supplies:

  1. For maraschino cherry: plastic grape, bright red paint, Stays Clear, a toothpick, piece of foam (to make a drying stand)
  2. For Sprinkles: plastic beads (or any small, plastic, sprinkle shaped bit – we used some pieces from Deb’s car mat)
  3. For Sauce: water soluble, paintable caulking (NOT silicone) in either white or brown (depending on type of sauce), acrylic paint, Stays Clear (in a high gloss), Gel Medium in Satin Gloss, plastic bag or pastry bag OPTIONAL: Super 77 Adhesive Spray
  4. For whip cream: Dry Dex Spackling OR the sauce mixture listed above, but with more caulk to make it a thicker consistency, plastic bag or pastry bag (optional decorative tip)
  5. Metal spoon (for decoration)

How To Make Your Fake Ice Cream:

1. Prep your dish

Your first step is to prep your dish for the plaster.  Because you want the plaster to pop out so you can paint it, you need to coat the inside with a spray cooking oil. This will stop the plaster from attaching to the glass. Be sure to coat the entire inside (try rubbing it around with the paper towel) but do not leave any drips or pools.

2. Prepare the plaster

Mix up the Plaster of Paris according the instructions on the box. You should wear gloves. This can be a little time-consuming, getting the consistency right, but when you do things move quickly, so be prepared with your dish and ice cream scoop nearby.

3. Pour in the plaster

When the plaster has a smooth, soupy consistency, spoon some into the dish, filling it up about a quarter-inch from the top. Wait until your plaster mixture in the bowl becomes a bit thicker, and scoop up a ball of it with the ice cream scoop, plopping it on top just like you would with real ice cream. If you want to add a decorative element like a spoon stuck in the ice cream, stick it in now. Make sure the placement is right as once it dries you won’t be able to remove it without ruining the whole piece.

NOTE: This is the hardest part. There is a fine line between the plaster being too soupy and not holding its shape, briefly being perfect, and then being too hard and crumbly. It may take a few times to get it perfect. My “mint chocolate ice cream” got more of the consistency I was looking for (it was my second attempt) whereas the “Neapolitan ice cream” was first a little too runny, and then too hard and so crumbled on top. I waited until the plaster had dried a bit and rubbed away the crumbly bits (I used my fingers, you could also use sand paper, if it was already hard).

The oil coated dish is filled with Plaster of Paris

The oil coated dish is filled with Plaster of Paris

4. Pop out the plaster

Once the plaster has dried, carefully pop it out by grabbing the top and turning and pulling. If the plaster is hardened, and you’ve oiled the dish well, this shouldn’t be too difficult. You’ll have something that looks like this:

Pop out the plaster for painting.

Pop out the plaster for painting.

5. Paint the plaster

Now comes the fun part! Pick what colour ice cream you want, and get painting! Feel free to get creative and even layer different kinds on top of each other. I chose to make one mint chocolate chip, and one Neapolitan. Mix up whichever colour paint you choose along with some Stays Clear. I used satin for the majority of the ice cream, and then added some highlights with a high gloss finish after, just on the more raised bits, to give the impression it was starting to melt a little. Onstage, glossy will look better (and more realistic) than matte, so when in doubt go more shiny.

Combine satin finish glaze with acrylic paint.

Combine satin finish glaze with acrylic paint.

6. Add final touches

Once the paint looks the way you like, and you’re certain everything is dry, you can add elements like a cherry, whip cream, sprinkles, or whatever other toppings you’d fancy. Again, great creative!

I made a maraschino cherry by painting a plastic grape bright red and coating it with a high gloss. I stuck the end with the hole onto a toothpick that I supported in some foam, so I could paint all sides without leaving fingerprints in it. If paint isn’t sticking to your cherry, spray it with Super 77.

Maraschino cherry made out of a plastic grape, red paint, and high gloss finish

Maraschino cherry made out of a plastic grape, red paint, and high gloss finish

You can add fake nuts by crumbling up bits of cork, or sprinkles by using beads or other bits of plastic.

To add caramel or chocolate sauce, mix up the following:

  1. Non-silicone caulking (the type that is water soluble and paintable, like in the link above) in either white or brown
  2. Stays Clear in a glossy finish
  3. Acrylic paint

You may have to fiddle with this a bit to get the exact look you want. If you’re making caramel, try adding more Stays Clear and less caulk, to give it that translucent appearance. If you want chocolate fudge that’s thick and slapped on, add more caulk. If you’re looking for something that’s easy to drizzle, add more Stays Clear and paint, and you can even mix in some water to get the consistency you like. Practice drizzling onto another surface before you try it on your ice cream.

Neapolitan ice cream with whip cream, chocolate sauce and a cherry

Neapolitan ice cream with whip cream, chocolate sauce and a cherry

To add whip cream, use the following:

  1. The above mixture, but in white, with a thick consistency OR
  2. Dry Dex, no colour needed

Squeeze your whip cream mixture of choice into a plastic bag or pastry bag, and squeeze out onto your dessert. If you want it to look like whip cream from a can, you can use a decorative tip. If you are looking for something more smooth and “flopped on”, opt for a more liquidy mixture (likely with the caulking solution, not the Dry Dex) and just squeeze on a blob. If you want to attach a maraschino cherry or any sprinkles, do so while it is still wet.

Dry Dex starts pink but dries white

Dry Dex starts pink but dries white

If you want to add nuts or sprinkles without any whip cream, attach with more of the Stays Clear, a hot glue gun, or spray with Super 77.

In the end, you should have something that looks like this:

Mint Chocolate Chip and Neapolitan ice cream

Mint Chocolate Chip and Neapolitan ice cream

I’m pretty happy with how these turned out (though I plan on adding a bit more glaze to the chocolate sauce to make it more realistic). They look good, are easy to make, and are relatively sturdy. Of course, they are solid, so don’t work if you want someone to “eat” your ice cream onstage, they are a little heavy, and they can chip, but I think they’d be great for background, maybe a couple extras chatting away in a booth in “Grease” or something.

Got any interesting ideas or toppings you’d like to share? Post them here in the comments!

All for now,
-E.

Scenery Build – Aged Poster

A very clever way to make an aged poster! Will have to keep this concept in mind for future shows. Also more than a little jealous that she has access to a 3D printer! Love to try one of those some day.

Anya Kordecki

To create the effect of an aged poster I decided to layer newsprint painted in different colours onto the flattage before painting the final poster. I built up the layers using PVA and Supersaturated Rosco paints.

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After the under-layers were completed, I set to work painting a section of an old poster. Due to the dystopian theme of the story, I wanted the poster to be a face that loomed over passersby.

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When I was happy with the top layer, I coated it with PVA and then started to tear off sections that I had left loose from the layers beneath. I then used a brown wash to further age the poster.

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I wanted the sides of the scenery piece to look like a girder, so I used a 3D printer to make rivets, used a glue-gun to fix them to the MDF sides and then painted over them…

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Theatre Magic: Brick by Brick

Our Production Assistant Janice Li was interested in learning some theatre production techniques, so set designer Jackie McClelland taught her how to make some inexpensive fake bricks for the exterior flat for “Dial M For Murder”.

Jackie started out by giving Janice this simple design: Window Flat exterior.

Janice’s first step was to cut out a bunch of cardboard “bricks” – keeping the size consistent was important, but the edges could look rough, just like real bricks.

Start off with some cardboard

We got this cardboard for free – 3 cheers for recycling!

Then Janice painted them all using Krylon Make It Stone paint (Jackie chose “Charcoal Sand”, but there are several different colours available.

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Painted with Krylon Make It Stone paint

Jackie stressed that, like real bricks, there could be some small imperfections, but that it should still cover as much as possible.

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The painted “bricks”

In the end, we had a very inexpensive, easy-to-do brick wall, as you can see here:

The finished product onstage

The finished product onstage

Of course there are many ways to achieve a similar effect;

I found an excellent post on how to make a very realistic faux brick wall, something that looks considerably harder but would be great it if was to be seen up close. That method is probably more for interior design than set design.

Another great post shows a similar but more labour-intensive version of what we’ve done, swapping out the cardboard for styrofoam which can be given a more “brick-like” texture.

And of course if you have more money, but less time, you can opt for the paintable wallpaper or panels, like they use in this post.

I’ve also seen especially skilled artists do amazing effects with just paint alone, but with all the great things you can use for depth and texture (not to mention my abysmal painting abilities) I don’t think I’d be trying that any time soon.

Do you have a great faux brick method you want to share? Leave a link in the comments.

-E.