For a period piece, this can be a real challenge. Ghost Writer (opening Saturday at Circle Theatre in Fort Worth) is set in 1919.
Almost nothing you can find in Walmart today is going to look like it belongs in 1919.
Especially the books. And this set is a writer's office with - naturally - books in it. But where to find books with the right sort of bindings? Can't afford antiques. So, you borrow whatever you can find that can sorta pass as the period and you find or make a few "hero" books that look actually correct.
Make? Go online (the designer's first research source) where you can sometimes find public domain images of books from whatever period your set needs. Copy, print, blow up to a usable size, and paste onto a dud book. (By "dud" I mean one of those sad, unloved books, an out-dated technical or law book or a former best-seller or Reader's Digest, that absolutely no one wants to buy or read today. The kind of book theaters have in the prop room. It's a sin to mess up a readable book.)
Anyway, I've been 1919-izing a few books.
But the really tricky bit of set dressing turned out to be the wall calendar.
Oddly, there aren't that many 1919 calendars in the stores. I actually found a few examples on-line... but the illustrations were never of a high enough resolution to be able to print and use at real full scale. So, for several days now I've been printing and copying and cutting and pasting period images and pages of a disemboweled store-boughten 2013 calendar... basically Frankenstein-ing things together to create a believable wall calendar for July 1919.
Here's the messy process, with everything heavy I own (within reach of my board) piled on to weight down the top of the rip-off (but please don't!) calendar pages. The antique flat iron is particularly handy.
And here's the final calendar which, believe it or not, is composited of fifteen separate pieces of paper!
Nope. Sixteen separate pieces of paper.