Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Wood Balls

Seems like I am often in search of teh most random things. Todays quest - 3" wooden balls. Premier Wood Products has them up to 18" in diameter. Don't expect it to come cheap that large though - the cheapest (pine poplar or mapple is $683, and other woods can run up to & over a thousand. They have other items - appliques and overlays, corbels and brackets and columns and pilasters among others.

Casey's Wood Products also has a wide varity of items, but they tend more towards game pieces, starts and craft cutouts than architectural details.

Woodworks, ltd. has a wide variety of wooden shapes & also sells wooden kitchen utensils.

Bear Woods has turnings, including balls, as well as clock parts and other craft items.

Craft America has a crazy assortment of wooden items acrylic items, as well as much more. It's an odd collection of craft stuff.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Fabric, Webbing & Fasteners

Looking through the current issue of Specialty Fabrics Magazine, there were a couple vendors that carried equipment that could be put to use theatrically. The first, Cole Tech carries an assortment of Marine rigging hardware, mostly rings, webbing adjusters, and hooks. While they don't have alot of a selection, I think that it would be an interesting or helpful practice to use triangle "rings" instead of normal "D" rings. This is one of the good points of the "delta" hangers that Mutual hardware sells.

The second, Lowy, carries webbing, a variety of fasteners, hot cutters, and robes, including bungee cord.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Status of the TD in colleges

I ran across a set of articles today by David R. Batcheller. The first, published in the Quarterly Journal of Speech in December of 1962 was called “The Status of the Technical Director in American Educational Theatre: A Survey”. The second was a follow up article, published in Educational Theatre Journal, Vol 25, No 4 (Dec. 1973), was called “The Status of the Designer / TD in American Educational Theatre, 1961-1971.
From the first article, my first, immediate, reaction was curiosity that the title of technical director was offered up as the second position hired after the position of Director, and that most of these people were not only responsible for the execution of all technical elements, but also for their design. My previous research indicates that the person after the director is usually the designer (after the “director” position was established).
Perhaps the other interesting takeaway is that not much has changed over the years. Production space, help, and the arrangement between teaching versus production work are all still issues. Getting tenure is still an issue – in the 1962 article Batcheller says “The nature of the technicians’ work frequently is misunderstood”. And that “No policy on rank and advancement for technicians has been generally adopted.”
Another notable thing was that in the second article showed that over the course of the decade there was a rise the occurrence of doctorate degrees in the Technical Director position. Previously there was a mix of M. A. and M. F. A. degrees only. As a M. F. A. is “terminal” degree in theatre technology and design, a doctorate is unnecessary and even unavailable unless you switch fields. Achieving tenure should not be an issue with an M. F. A., and certainly would qualify you for a teaching position. It makes me wonder what these Doctorate degrees were in and the purpose behind them – an attempt at tenure? Or someone taking a technical job as a way to get their foot into the program at large.
I make the last statement because even 50 years ago, the position of the Technical Director was viewed as a “young man’s job”, and most of these positions were transitory. Where these young men went afterwards, I don’t know, but there are still many many colleges out there where the TD tends to only stay a few years, teach only stagecraft (if that) and are more of a “staff” position than a full faculty member.
At any rate, it is fascinating to see a viewpoint on Technical Direction from 50 years ago.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Superior Studio Specialties

Speaking of resources, Superior Studio Specialties is one to keep in your back pocket. From Giant Christmas bulbs, to LED lighting, Spaghetti lights (faux neon?, Bamboo, thatch, palm trees & cactus, Fake birds (including several that would be good Into the Woods options, as well as a variety of other props. They aren't the cheapest place out there, but they have a unique variety of stuff.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Acyrlic Spheres

On a number of occasions I have needed to research plastic spheres / globes - either fully round or just half, and upon needed to find yet another, I have realized that I have never included any of that information here.


If your looking for small balls 1/4" to 3" in diameter you can check out tap plastics.

Rosebrand has clear plastic ones, with a large seam, from 4" - 36". They are pretty reasonably priced, if you can deal with the seam.

For a variety of options you can try Plastic Balls. they have a wide range of materials, but tend to be small.

For some custom manufactured globes, try California Quality Plastics. While I am looking for a frosted globe, this is my current best option as I need a 18" globe.

Barnard Ltd. also has large spheres and their pricing is good. This place has a varity of theme decor that is not available at Rosebrand, so it's worth a peek. The artifical drinks and food could be especially useful for props.

Complast.com has a variety of sizes w/ seams and without.

JMK Displays offers small balls and cubes, but also offers acyrlic scrap priced by the pound. This would have been fun while in Grad school, to have ordered a couple pounds and experiment with engraving & lighting, frosting, sanding, gluing and so forth since there are tonsof techniques out there, and they give a variety of effects.

Delvies Plastics has small balls and cubes in qty that are polished.