Plaster, mould making and prop makers deadline.

Rewinding back to a couple of weeks ago; our first day at Scenehouse was chock full of information and learning (I have almost filled an entire A4 blank sketchbook just with notes after two weeks) using mould making techniques, various materials and a few blunders! Algenate was our first intro to useful materials to create simple 'one part' moulds. Not only is it an amazing squishy and clever goo derived from seaweed, it's also biodegradable which I love! I really hate to waste anything so algenate sounded amazing.

'Cut a cup in half, mix up some algenate powder with water, stir stir stir, stick your finger into cup, pour in algenate, leave to set for a couple of minutes.'

Tada! You now have a little one part mould of your finger! Ok so I've tried some mould making before, but mainly teaching myself; my real note taking shows how much detail our tutor went into, the best types of plaster to use (for example a fine casting plaster is much better quality than Plaster of Paris) and I find visual learning stays with me much better, as well as a few notes on the side.

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After our plaster AND jesmonite (oh the wonders of jesmonite) fingers dried we brushed over a thin layer of liquid latex, leaving this to dry and repeated this about 5/6 times. This created a secondary mould. Now this process is can be repeated and many plaster fingers can be replicated! (well why not?)

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The image above is Sophia's hand being cast very quickly in a skin-friendly silicone (yes, on top of a child's fire helmet) Which once left to dry would be covered in modroc and again left to dry to create a 'Jacket mould'. The jacket mould's purpose is to hold the shape of the silicone mould, silicone is a rubber therefore very bendy- if a plaster is poured into the first mould it may just spill out depending on the size of the mould! So a jacket mould is needed to hold the shape and contain the plaster/material.

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I think one of the most interesting parts of this day (and on a whole of the course) for me was putting all this information into context working within/for the theatre. For instance we were told that many prop makers use jesmonite for casting, not only is it very durable but it is fire proof. Materials such as polysterene catch fire very easily- this is one of the main concerns about props and set in theatre, fire proofing is essential! As is health and safety; using glass on stage as set or props is avoided whenever possible.

Time management is a huge part of a prop makers job, the job needs to be finished and finished on time. "I don't want it done well I want it finished!" Think about what the audience are going to see...and from how far. Detail is great, however, reaching the deadline, getting the working parts in order and the 'jist' is probably the most important. Getting caught up in details that only a person would be able to see from a few inches away from their face-not so important! I guess it really does depend on the job, but if it's on stage..it also needs to be robust.

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To end this thoughtful post- here is my hand.. holding my hand :)