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Archive for the ‘Props’ Category

Mmmmmm, (faux) peppermint pies!

I’ve been making some fake food for our Family Ministry Christmas Program.  Peppermint Pie, cookies, lemon squares… they look yummy!  The cookies, individual pie slices, and bars are made of upholstery foam, the fluffy pink peppermint pie is shaped with soft sculpture (nylon stuffed with polyester craft stuffing) and “iced” with spackling – the kind you use on dry-wall and can get pre-mixed from Home Depot.  That stuff can be piped, spread, and colored just like cake icing.

Peppermint Pie

A little foam cut to the right shape, some spray paint, hot-glue and candy give these the right look.


The lemon bars int the background are spray-painted foam rubber with cake-decorating sugar crystals on top. The green and red sugar cookies in the background are cut from foam, spray-painted, and more cake-decorations applied. The "frosted cookies" are made using foam, spray paint and flour. Flour looks like a dusting of powdered sugar, but will hold up better over time. Powdered sugar is more susceptible to moisture damage.

… happy faux baking!

hugs, v-



Alien Costume


Alien costume

For our Christmas program, (yes, I said Christmas program) we need 9-10 Alien costumes (yes, I said Aliens) so I’ve been busy working on a prototype.  Here’s version #2.  The fabric is uber-light and stretchy, which gives the odd, arched shape when it’s stretched as the trim is attached.

I started with a sleeveless tank and shorts which I cut and sewed without a pattern.  I sew enough that I often don’t use a pattern on something this simple. I usually just get the right proportions by folding a t-shirt in half and cutting out the shape based on that.  Ditto with the shorts, using a pair of pants or sweats I already own.

The trim is simply round pipe insulation which is pre-scored so you can easily split it open.  <Home Depot guy, you rock!>

I cut it in half, hot glued it to the fabric. (IMPORTANT NOTE:  I stretched the fabric as I went along).

I tried spray painting this trim with neon green spray paint, but then the costume lost the cool color contrast between the green and grey (the trim just faded into the costume)  and the spray paint flaked off.  Badly.  in. a. big. mess.

I asked one of our Alien dancers to wear it at rehearsal one night, and it was comfortable, moved well, and because the trim is soft foam, it didn’t hurt or create a problem with movement when she rolled around on the floor for some of the choreography.

My boss (Creative Arts Director at Rocky Mountain Christian Church – Phil Christian) asked that the dancer’s faces not be visible, so I needed to make a head-piece of some sort that the dancers could see through, but would disguise their faces.

The first version of the costume was a TOTAL FLOP in my opinion.  I didn’t like the trim or the fit, or the helmet, which was based on a 1960’s flight attendants’ accessory made by Italian designer Emilio Pucci.

1960's flight attendant uniform was my original inspiration

I really disliked the first prototype.  It was very time-consuming, and inhaling melted plastic fumes is not my idea of a great way to spend the day.  I originally made the helm by using two dollar-store plastic serving bowls.  The bowls were clear, but I decided to spray paint them… they ended up looking like 1970’s green tupperware which was an early indication that this plan was doomed.

I cut out a face opening and a neck hole, figured out a way to “hinge” it with velcro so it could be opened and closed, hot-glued the seam, and added some tree tinsel.  Blech.  It just looked trashy, not cool – and we have some really cool young dancers on our “Crew-X” so I wanted them to look like Judy Jetson, not some spacey version of Elmer Fudd.  🙂

I wanted a scooped collar and waist piece, but without using stiff interfacing or corset stays it was a floppy disaster… Here’s the idea I abandoned…

The model is an awesome kid, but this costume?  No WAY!  Back to the drawing board.

See what I mean? Great kid, but the costume misses the mark.

I decided to abandon the helmet idea, and go with a simplified (and surprisingly less expensive) head-piece made of foam.  I used egg-crate foam; the type you use to pad a camping cot, which I already had on hand.  In this photo, it’s not complete, but you can get the general idea.  I assembled it from strips of the foam alternated with strips of the pipe insulation trim, hot glued together.  The final version is spray-painted neon green, but I don’t want to reveal the final product until the Christmas Program is over… so you can look for it in a future post.  Here’s the idea, though…

Using tulle to cover the face lets the dancer see out, but effectively veils the face.

These are a little more “Predator”-looking than Marvin the Martian-looking, but I’m hoping it will all come together in the final assembly of all the pieces.  I’ve added a collar to the uniform and am hoping to find some inexpensive leotards and tights in bright green or grey to complete the look.  The dancers are going to wear knee pads, which they will provide, and I will either make matching fabric covers for, or simply spray paint them.  Shoe covers are in order as well, because our dancers will be wearing athletic shoes, not ballet slippers.

I’ll post the final project when it’s all finished, but  thought this would be a good time to post the general idea since Halloween is just around the corner and my blog gets so many hits from people looking for costume ideas.

hugs, v-

Court Jester’s Hat

The Jester's Hat

An upcoming RUSH HOUR script calls for one of the characters to wear a Jester’s hat.  So I came up with this.

I found some great fabric earlier this summer at … where else? WALLY WORLD!  I think I picked up about a yard each of four different designs.  I used a needle and thread, fabric, hot glue, glue gun, shredded paper, poster board, pom poms, my iron and sewing machine.

Here’s the how-to…

These are the basic fabric pieces needed for the "horns." Cut 4 from one fabric, and 4 from a contrasting fabric.

With right sides together, and LEAVING THE BOTTOM OPEN, I sewed the horns. I clipped the curves so they would look nice when I turned them right-side-out.

I stuffed the horns with shredded paper. I don't ever expect to need to wash this hat, if I did, I would have to use cotton batting, or poly-fill as a stuffing. Shredded paper is cheaper. 🙂

Sewed two contrasting "horns" together into two pair of horns.

And the two ...

... shall become as one.

Traditionally, there would be bells on the points of the horns, but as an actor, I CANNOT STAND a costume that makes noise I cannot directly control 100% of the time, so I went with hot-gluing some pom-poms on instead.

I added more pom-poms to add silly-ness and to cover the hand-stiched seams.

I cut out fabric to make a hood. Notice a hood pattern that will have long flaps to tie under the neck or behind the head is shaped like half a heart shape.

right sides together, stitch the hood across the crown of the head, leaving about an inch at the "forehead" and a good long open bit at the back of the head. That will 1) make the hood easier to hem, and 2) create "flaps" that can be tied under the chin like a scarf or around the back of the head like a "dew rag" to hold it steady.

Hem the hood. I like to iron in a hem and then zig-zag stich it. These will be used infrequently and don't have to stand up to much abuse, so I can cut corners on the sewing and save buckets of time.

All along, I kept trying things on, removing stitching, adjusting the angles and fit, etc.

Stitch the horns to the hood at the points indicated. I hot glued the center of the horns to the hood, so there was no need to stitch around the entire crown of the head. Just securing it firmly with stitching in four places was enough.

So far so good. Still need to add the crown. Here it is tied like a scarf below the chin.

And here's the same thing tied at the back of the head like a 'dew rag." It's still looking a little Carmen Miranda, though, gotta add the crown.

I covered some posterboard with cloth (remember, this will never be laundered, or I would have had to use very heavy interfacing instead. I attached this to the piece (it can be sewn) and voila!


Fun project.  The more outlandish the fabric the better I think.  I have to go now, you should SEE the mess in my kitchen!  And it’s time to “rinse and repeat” because I need another one because our church has two campuses.

Placemat Jacket How-to

Well, this was an interesting project!  The script called for a coat made from the month’s giveaway which were some paper placemats.  I first ironed the paper to some very lightweight interfacing to keep the paper from tearing as I worked with it.  I tried sewing it, but wound up using good old duct tape to hold it together and to outline and emphasize some features like pockets.  My  fellow RH co-host Donna was my model.  🙂

Hot glue, a few buttons, and a magic marker helped add some detail.

After sewing the sleeves on and turning it right-side-out, the interfacing began to tear between the placemats. PLAN B! GET THE DUCT TAPE!

The finished product

Ironing the placemats to some iron-on interfacing

It was pretty flimsy with just the lightweight interfacing to hold it together, so Donna and I re-inforced it with good ole duct tape.

By connecting several of the mats together to make "fabric", I cut out pieces to sew together for the jacket.

The Information-ator

Brian IS... the Information-ator

This year, Phil had added a fresh new take on Rush Hour to mix things up and add some variety. We have a new format to add to the standard song/welcome skit/character sketch/Word Segment/song/etc… format. 

I dunno if this is Phil’s brain-child or came from the 252 curriculum folks (see glossary) , but twice this season, we have taken an entire RH production to talk about FAITH SKILLS. 

At Rush Hour, we believe with all our hearts that what happens in the home is WAAAAYYY more important than anything we do on the RH stage.  So on a Faith Skill week, we give the character actors the week off (Vinny, Mrs. F, Cammie, Gordo — those are our character actors).  Instead, we get the crew, vocals, and the comic and credible hosts to lead the audience through a series of hands-on discussions and activities so they can get some practice using these faith skills. 

The first week we did this, the Faith skill was about sharing our faith.  “Who Can You Tell.”  That’s when we used the Shakespeare costumes, etc.  We also had a bit using an “information-ator” costume.  It had a couple of important features.  #1 it has to look computer-ish.  #2 It had to look like a contraption the co-host made.  #3  It had to somehow prevent the co-host from being able to tie his/her shoes.  Because it was a heavy-duty costuming week for me with 2 complete Shakespeare outfits to sew, and TONS of lines to learn, I went with a simple poster board design for the Informationator.

Just slip hands thru the pipe-cleaners and spread fingers to keep the keyboard on the hands.

The keys on the keyboard are fun-foam.  Pipe cleaners poked up from underneath hold his hands in place on one finger and his wrists – loose enough to slip his hands through, tight enough that he just has to spread his fingers out for it to stay on. 

Headpiece construction - click to enlarge

The “screen” is made from poster-board, decorated and hot-glued to a girl’s plastic head-band.  I then attached the headband to a visor for stability.  I twisted some pipe cleaners around mine to get my sunglasses to stay with the visor. That way I could put it on in one quick movement.  Brian’s sunglasses are nicer, I think he put his on separately.  🙂

CDs, net and silver ribbon. Just because.

It needed a little more movement and goofyness and flash, so I took some black tulle (petticoat netting) and hot glued some silver ribbon and some CDs to it.  I sandwiched the net between pairs of cd’s and put the hot glue on the cds, not the net.  I used real cd’s but you could use fun foam, cardboard, poster-board, etc.  I folded the net in half and cut a slit in the net for the actor’s head.  Not that it was crucial to the design, but I did hot glue some cd pairs right on the shoulders next to the neck slit.  They were vaguely reminiscent of epaulets, and did two things… 1. Made it easy for the actor to find the head-hole.  2.  Reinforced the slit in the fabric so it didn’t rip.  Easy-peasy.

It was a good design for a quick change and it fit my schedule better than a head-toe Iron-man costume complete with real computer parts fastened to a spandex jumpsuit.  Although the spandex and computer parts would have rocked!

hugs, v-

The “cloppers”

Woot the Monty Python!

Here’s a quick, simple “how-to”.

Remember Monty Python and the Holy Grail?  As the knights galloped around the country-side, they were actually on foot, galloping along accompanied by the sound of horses hooves they made by clop-ping two coconut shells together.  Recently, I got the idea that Reginald Fastidious III (actor and orator extraordinaire) should enter, exit, and generally cavort about the stage to the sound of clopping horses.  I didn’t have any coconut shells around the house, but I did have some red plastic cups that made an appropriate clopping sound when the open mouths of the cups were klonk’d together.  Thusly: 

Bring the Cloppers together thusly with a resounding clonk!


I draped them around the actor's neck with a string for "hands-free" acting when the cloppers are not in use.

Note the cloppers hanging from Brian's neck at rehearsals.

Tassel making

Here’s an easy way to make a tassel.  I used these to decorate a long set of reins I made for a Camel costume.    hugs, V-    

click to enlarge image

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