February 10, 2012 | Author: Julia Welch
What I’m enjoying most about working in the scene shop are small projects that require some sort of creative problem solving. I like being given a task and told to figure out how to best create the piece. The first one I did was an arched piece to be added on top of the Animal Crackers portal. I was given measurements, but then pretty much let free to build it as I pleased. I finally feel like I’m comfortable enough in the shop to work as I want. I can grab lumber and play with the scraps. I can wander to and from, in and out of the theatres (well not wander, more move with a purpose). I can confidently use most of the machinery without having to ask for help or permission. And I feel okay if something doesn’t go exactly right.
My very first project on day one was to cut these strips of fabric that will drop from the ceiling and indicate rain in The White Snake. It’s a beautiful design and a cool concept, but a pain to create. I used this light blue poly silk called voile. The first problem was that the edges of the fabric fray like crazy when it’s cut, and the designer doesn’t want to surge the sides. What the carpenters came up with was using a hot knife that burns as it cuts so the poly melts and seals off the edges as it goes. But it took a long time and it was nearly impossible to get a strait line since these things are 30 feet long!
There was not enough room in the shop, nor clean space, to lay out the fabric and work so Chris (the other scenic carpentry assistant) and I were set up in a hallway over in the New Theatre. Make use of wherever you are, I guess. We cut some masonite stencils, but it still took about forty minutes per piece and we had to make 32 of them. It was a long first few days!
The sheets are so tall and have to be rolled up every night, or between changeovers. It’s a time consuming process so I was also tasked with finding a way to wind them up easily and quickly and simply.
I ended up building a piece that gets mounted to a wall that will hold a slotted dowel. The fabric can be loaded on the dowel and then any Phillips screw gun can wind it up. I made a few prototypes and played with different modes of adhering and releasing the fabric. It’s funny to think I spend a bunch of time making something that will never be seen by an audience, but will save the crew hours of time.
I ended up with a design that worked, and worked well enough that I was asked to make a few more of them! It was great to see all sides of a project from start to finish. And I liked the freedom to play, to be creative, and to experiment. I hope there’s more of that down the line.