Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Model Making: Tapes and Glues

Just found a great discussion (by an architect who obviously builds models) of various tapes and glues at youngarchitect.com.  HERE.

To which I'd add a recommendation of gaf tape - wonderful gaf tape!  On stage, of course, it's ubiquitous, but it's also useful in tiny amounts in model-making, especially used as hinges between cardboard pieces.  Particularly if it's a painted model.

And I'd add a caution about all glues - and even tapes - to beware the fumes and chemicals involved.  You can develop chemical sensitivities to the stickem if it touches your skin; the fumes can be sickening, carcinogenic, or occasionally instantly fatal like the methylene chloride used in paint strippers.

Ventilate, people!  Read safety instructions!


Also helpful is a brief post on the same site about building architectural scenic models HERE.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Books, Books, Books

I had a very refreshing chat about books the other day.

Nothing is more fun.

(Well, okay, hardy anything.)

What jogged my memory today was a blog post HERE about a new book called Soviet Bus Stops, by Christopher Herwig.  I haven't got my hands on this book yet, but it looks fantastic...  a photo study of ubiquitous, humble - yet socially important - architectural monuments.  These small buildings seem to have received all the whimsy and delight that official Soviet architecture quashed.  Just Google "soviet bus stop" for the wild range of styles.  This one I like as sort of Romanesque-Modern with a flavor of '60s Pop.  (It'd make a cool garden folly.  Please mentally add a blue pool and girls in Holly Golightly sunglasses, sipping martinis.  See it?)

Not sure if this photo is truly from Herwig's Soviet Bus Stops.  
Copyright-holder please let me know if you want it removed.

Folk architecture - whether designed by amateurs or pros - is always lively.

Picture books are fun aren't they?

That book chat was not about architecture or picture books, actually, more on WWII topics.  I'm currently reading Winston Churchill's The Gathering Storm.  The man can write!  Another WWII book was recommended to me (but I don't have that note handy); in turn I recommended George McDonald Fraser's The Complete McAuslan, entertaining stories of  a Scottish regiment at the end of that war, and his more serious, excellent memoir of fighting the Japanese in Burma, Quartered Safe Out Here

A recent good novel about that period I highly recommend is All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr.  This read was the result of book club friends recommending it to my mother, she to my sister, then the same copy on to me, then to my child...  That's a catchy book!  I won't spoiler it: let's just say that I had to stay up all night to finish it.  Dawn, I'm sayin'.  Actual dawn.

At about the same time a kindly person lent me a copy of Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel.  Also engrossing - apocalypse plus traveling Shakespearean orchestra... how could I resist?  (NPR on it HERE.)  Naturally, I had to give copies of both novels on to others... nothing is as catching as a book.

It's a good week - month! - when you get two excellent new books to read.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

North Texas Giving Day

In honor of Kitchen Dog Theater's 25th anniversary, we're looking for 250 generous new friends to pledge $25 apiece.

We need all the friends we can get this year!

Of course we're also very grateful for larger (or smaller) gifts and for dear old friends...  

This is a big year for the Dogs.  

Not just because 25 is a nice number, but because our company has left the MAC - our great home of 20 of those years - and we're fitting ourselves into new temp quarters, looking for longer term quarters, and - wahoo! - planning towards a new permanent Dog House.  (Or should that be a new Dogs' Kitchen?)

Find out more about North Texas Giving Day HERE.  Your help is always welcome... but tomorrow your gift can be magnified by additional funding.  Freebies!  Who doesn't love freebies?

Your generous gift can help us grow! 

Monday, September 14, 2015

News Break

Just found out I won a Critics' Forum Award for the set of The Explorers Club at Stage West and WaterTower Theater.  Pretty cool!  (Critics Forums are hard to get hold of.)

Many thanks - I'm thrilled.  I'm also grateful for the HUGE amount of help from everyone at Stage West who beautifully built, painted, upholstered, created faux books, helped set dress, loaned us taxidermy animal heads (from a WaterTower backer, thank you!), and generally made the set possible.  Twice.

The Explorers Club - Stage West and WaterTower Theater
Note the bar top of cheapo "granite" plastic laminate and foam pool noodles covered with vinyl,
and the painted mahogany.  Behind it is a Plexiglas and Modge-Podge-ed "stained glass" window 
which I decorated, now decorating my studio.

General woodsy library with many stuffed animal heads.  Those books, 
believe it or not, are mostly faked by Stage West's prop designer.

Note the globe used as the topper of the stair's newel post.  There was a funny 
slapstick moment when a character leaned on it.

More libraryishness...  You can see an antelope head.  Photos courtesy of Stage West

My original sketch.  We never found a taxidermy bear, but we were 
kindly loaned a suit of armor instead!  The bar's support lions were another kind loan.

Paper Rules!

An encouraging finding: among 4,000 designers surveyed world-wide, most of them - 64% - still use plain ol' paper and pen or pencil to brainstorm.

Doesn't surprise me at all.

One designer remarked on the particular usefulness of this old-tech method in a meeting.  

Exactly!  Nothing is as fast, as flexible, as readily available as scribbling on paper.  You can respond immediately to the flow of thought in a meeting - or while solo brainstorming.  There is less temptation to perfect the drawing (and computers do prefer perfect); instead the impulse on an impromptu scrap of paper is to rough out something messy but expressive. 

The this-ain't-nothin' worthlessness of a quick sketch on a cocktail napkin is part of its value - it stops the rough idea from becoming too precious to change or discard.

Sketch by Clare Floyd DeVries - do not use commercially please.
The ability to create fast hand sketches is so useful that I once
got flown to Tennessee just to show design grad students how.

Now, the old style of formal hand-drawn drafting or presentation drawings... those easily(ish) translate into computer hardware and software use.

More on the survey HERE at Wired.com.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Copyright and Trolls

I've written about copyright before (check the ol' Archive if interested), but here's a heads-up! on Patent Trolls.

Before starting...  We do remember that using other people's work without permission is Wrong, right?

But say you do borrow something and transform it fundamentally (fair use) or you ask or pay for permission for this use or you create every fragment yourself from scratch.  Anything that ends up on the internet is susceptible to challenge from those nasty trolls that extort money (which seems to seldom make it back to actual creators) for copyright or patent infringement.  The courts are starting to wise up to the trolls - but who wants to go to court?


BoingBoing has a ridiculous example of this kind of trolling today: a magazine shaken down for use of An Ink Blot.

Not this one - this is a free image from i2Clipart.com

Seriously.  You can get grief from using a splatter of ink - in this magazine's case perfectly legitimately.  Luckily their cover designer kept good records of their image sources.

So be careful out there!

Monday, September 7, 2015

Paint n' Light

This weekend is the Tech for Kitchen Dog Theater's The Dumb Waiter by Pinter.

One of the exciting parts of our new theater home is that, because of the move, we discarded our old beaten down wall flats and constructed new ones!  Woohoo!

But even with brand new flats, it's tough to build a long, tall, straight wall and not show the seams.  Which has turned into a bit of a problem with this particular show.  So I've been painting like a fiend, one step behind the carpenter, trying to create a very mottled, distressed look on the walls - plus adding shreds of wallpaper - all to downplay the "look! it's made of 4' x 8' flats!" aspect.

The Dumb Waiter - photo by director Tim Johnson
Here's the result so far - greatly enhanced by Suzanne Lavender's rich lighting.

Gotta run...