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.


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.


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.


Dial M For Murder – Dirty Business

The other day I wrote a post about how to remove the tarnish from old brass things, and today I’m going to do the opposite and try to make a faux tarnished look on some cheap dollarstore trophies! Time to get down and dirty with a sharpie and some paint.

I started off with this plastic trophy; $1.50 from Dollarama:

Step 1: Cheap Plastic Trophy

Step 1: Cheap Plastic Trophy

It’s got the right shape, it’s light weight, can’t break, and but-by-gosh the price is right, but it’s got a cheap shiny finish that looks plastic, even from a distance.

Now, these trophies are supposed to be a few years old (after all Tony Wendice retired from tennis a year ago, so they are all at least a year old) but they aren’t ancient, so I don’t want them to be too tarnished or rusted or anything. Since I have a few of the same style, I thought I’d try to show them aged differently, as though he’s won the same tournament a few years in a row.

My first step with the older looking one was to add some dark tarnished looking bits around the details. I started off with a sharpie to get it exactly where I wanted:

Step 2: Sharpie Detailing

Step 2: Sharpie Detailing

I also dulled down the gold with a bit of silver sharpie. It doesn’t show up well in a photo, but basically all it did was make it a little less shiny, while still looking metallic.

Next, for some broader strokes, I got out the black paint. I applied it using a very dry, rough brush, and added layers slowly, often wiping some away with a kleenex. Tarnish builds over time, so you need to take the time with this step as well! It should look layered in a way.

Step 3: Black Paint

Step 3: Black Paint

I put that one aside for a bit, and started on the newer looking one. For this, I still wanted to get rid of the shine, but not by using as much black, so I got out some metallic paint that I had: Dynamic Metallic Latex Paint by Paint Wizard. It had more of a sparkly finish rather than a glossy look (though of course not like glitter, that would look worse). I sort of sponged that on, like this:

Left: The Original Cup, Right: Sponged Metallic Finish

Left: The Original Cup, Right: Sponged Metallic Finish

This kept it looking warm, but a bit more like a metal. Since it’s also supposed to be aged, I added some black paint to this as well, but not as much as on the first one. The final products look like this:

The "Newer" Cup, The Original, and the "Oldest"

The “Newer” Cup, The Original, and the “Oldest”

Admittedly, up close they are still not as good as buying a vintage metal one, but as those run you nearly $100 a pop, and these cost me under $5 and only about 20 minutes to make, I think this is a better solution. I still need to change the base, but that should be as simple as putting a different, less colourful plaque on the front.

Stay tuned for more!