My Ind. Study in props, need ideas!


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Hello, my name is Luke. At school I am doing an independent study in props. I plan on reading a lot of those "behind the scenes" books such as film wizardry, and page to screen. But I would also like to branch out beyond Harry Potter. Can anyone please recommend some other books of that style? Maybe a star wars one would be fun. I'm also going to be building some prop replicas for myself, if anyone can think of some cool projects (again, preferably Harry potter related, but not necessarily) that would be educational while I build them that would be very helpful. Also, this project will be costing quite a bit of money, if you can think of projects that I can possibly sell in the junkyard (for example, I would learn a lot about resin casting and paint by recasting and painting all of my Harry Potter wands, but I cannot sell those on the junkyard so I may simply not be able to afford to do that, though it would be very fun and probably look better than the crapy looking stuff NC has sold me) to at least cover some of the costs that would be WONDERFUL and you will receive mention. Lastly, for my final product I intend to assist in actually designing and building props for my high school's musical. Once the musical is announced I will come here and tell everyone what needs to be done and ask for any insight about the show, props, style, time period etc.
Any help and advice is appreciated!

PS: I was just watching a British film, forgive me if any thing is phrased a bit oddly lol
Hello, Luke.

What other props you try might depend on what other movies you like: Star Wars, Star Trek, etc.

And depending on that, we can refer you to more books. I think most tend to be movie- or series-specific.

Also, it's rare to find a 'behind the scenes' book that will tell you what a prop was made from, or how it was made.

If you're inclined to take a shop or art class, you may be able to learn prop-related skills like bookbinding, woodworking or casting metal.

As for something you could sell to recoup costs, I thought a small object, like a token or a charm, would be a good idea. Relatively easy and quick to create a master (compared to something larger), not a lot of silicone needed to mold it, and not a lot of resin needed to cast it.

You can get a lot of good advice here, if you ask or just observe.

Good luck.

-Mike J.
Thank you very much for your advice! I have absolutely NO idea where to even begin looking for workshops, if you know of any in the NYC area please let me know! If not, how do I even find any?
Thanks again!
Ask around - maybe one of your friends' dads has a few power tools in his garage he could teach you how to use.

Hello guys! So my first project will (hopefully) be ecl's potion book, as a warm up to that my Ind. Study guide/teacher/person (his name is Foxman, so I'll refer to him as that a lot) suggested I try to age an old yearbook, so here we are!
I'll give you a list of everything I did:
-Cut up the spine, I didn't use an exacto knife because I don't have one, but I used my REALLY sharp deer antler knife. I then beat the front and back of the book lightly with the blade. This created small holes and the waxy cover, allowing water to go through
-I used my knife to cut and round the corners
-I found some antique hammer thing and smashed the book for a few mins
-Made a glass of ice water and let it sit for about two hours on the book, I was hoping the sweat would leave a ring, but it only left water where holes were.
-I used a black eraser (like for pencils) and rubbed the cover, leaving eraser marks. But every time I touched it they would come off, so:
-I took a chunk of a glue stick, kind of chopped it up/mixed it with some water using a butter knife (use plastic knife next time, this one got ruIned ["say ruins, ok now say ruined"])
-I spread this mixture over all parts of the book that had eraser marks, being careful not to take the eraser marks off with the knife
-I dried each side for about ten mins under a hair dryer on HIGH (so do each side separately)
-Then I took sandpaper to the edges, don't ask me which grit, my step dad brought home like 5 different kinds and I used all of them, but predominantly a very corse grit.
-I took one packet of starbucks Via and mixed it with about 2 ounces of water
-Used some rolled up paper towels as a paint brush to spread about a quarter of an ounce on each side (including what the towel retained) (again, do this one side at a time)
-I let the coffee dry for about 3-4 mins, then lightly brushed it with a clean paper towel to get some excess off
-Hair drier again, same process, just move up and down the whole book slowly, just do this until everything is dry, feel it every couple of mins to see how it's doing
-Find something really solid that has an outward corner (table, counter top, dresser, etc...) and just press your book on the corner until it's about to give out and fold, do this both sides, any direction, a handful of times on each side
-Take a new paper towel, roll it up and use it to paint the edges of the pages with the left over coffee

I wrote this in a rush, if you need anything to be cleared up please just ask!

(I'm sorry, but to protect my privacy I could not take pics that included my school's name, which prohibits much of the book from being seen, so that's what all the weird angles are about. Oh and sorry about the crappy iPhone pics lol, again, in a bit of a rush)
Cool! Good going with the experiments; these techniques can be useful when you start to make your props. One of the main things is trial and error. Often times the things that seem difficult end up easy, and vice versa. I really like the way the page edges turned out!
Thanks! I figured I'd take a swing at some of these techniques before I try the real thing. Unfortunately I didn't have time to get to Michael's because my parents are REALLY busy and haven't been able to drive me so I couldn't try acrylic. I saw what you posted in your thread too, thanks for the tip on the discounts!
I'll be sure to post updates as soon as I have anything!
Yes, those are what I use too. I really like the Golden fluid acrylics because they can easily be opaque or watered down with water or medium. So it's really flexible.
Terrific! I'll probably need to ask you some more specific questions before I actually do it, but I'll wait until I actually have the paints.
So, is this study a purely practical course, or is there also a theory side expected? Because it might impress your teacher if in addition to showing how the props were built a certain way, you explored why they were built a certain way.

What I mean is, maybe find two movies in the same genre but with different styles/tones, and show how the propmakers used the same techniques to make the same kind of items support different themes. Or even how props change for different characters in the same movie.

It’s “good guy=white hat/bad guy=black hat” stuff, really. Or, you know, blue lightsaber versus red lightsaber. In Harry Potter terms, something like how the different wands visually reflect the nature of each character. Many people don’t consciously recognize how individual props reinforce tone.

Just a thought. Depends on what kind of course it is, but teachers love this kind of thinking.
Well, my teacher is ver philosophically minded, so that was actually one of his first questions too! I want to learn about exactly what you're saying, as well as prop building and replicating. I think the two best ways to go about that are, like you said, study some films, and the other, is to actually talk to some prop designers. Since I can't actually talk to many prop designers I wanted those behind the scenes book with interviews and stuff. Also, my teacher said his girlfriend personally knows a handful of people who actually do this for a living, and he is currently working on getting me in touch with them… so that should be exciting.
So, in short, yes, I do want to learn prop theory.
Ecl, I went to Michaels today, I got everything except the foil, journal, and spray paint (d'oh!)
I got "golden" matte medium, but I bought paint from a different brand to save money, they can mix, right? I can wait to get started building!
Those should be fine; sometimes the acrylic paints you see that are much cheaper might be a little lighter on the pigment, meaning they won't be as opaque, but that's fine if you're mainly going to use it with the medium to thin it out (translucent). Which is what I did to age the book. You'll use much more of the medium than the paint. It doesn't really matter what brand they are, they'll mix just fine.
Dude, you need to PM me.

Go to my website and look around, then come back here and send me a PM.

Trust me. You need to do this.

Go to The Compleat Sculptor downtown on Vandam street. If I remember correctly it's just west of 6th. They'll have everything you could possibly need for suclpting, modling, and casting things. They do classes and seminars as well and the people there (at least when I used to go) are very helpful!
Go to The Compleat Sculptor downtown on Vandam street. If I remember correctly it's just west of 6th. They'll have everything you could possibly need for suclpting, modling, and casting things. They do classes and seminars as well and the people there (at least when I used to go) are very helpful!

Thanks very much! I'm going to the city soonish... I'll try try and stop by there

Edit: YIKES, it's like 40 blocks away from where I'm going... Maybe I'll have to make a separate trip one day.
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