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La Fanciulla del West

My first project of the entire 2015 DMMO season. This is a papoose carrier for a Native American in the story. It is a basket to provide structure that I then added brown and white fabric to make it look more authentic.

The final product of the papoose carrier. I was asked to make it "more Native American". Looking at pictures, I found many had stripes and more decorative beads, I also relaced it with leather instead of the cotton string.

I was asked to make the worst, most improvised ashtrays I could. These were made from mostly pie tins and a couple small metal bowls.

A papercraft cookie box I made. This was taken at the end of the run, and it was pretty battered, but it did hold up through the show without needing replacement.

The previous cookie box closed.

The start of what would become weights for a scale. Made from dowels with small wooden spheres from a craft store glued on.

The first coat of paint on the constructed weights. A very shiny silver undercoat for the not quite as shiny gold that would come next.

The finished weights in their box I also made. Stage management added the little "x" on some to denote which to use.

The box closed, with weights on top.

Just a few of the tin cups we gathered for the first act, which takes place in a very busy saloon.

The back wall of the bar. I helped to make the shelf, as well as decorate it. Only the bottom row of bottles have actual liquid in them (caramel color in water). The rest are epoxied down and filled with a brown lighting gel.

A few of the many letters passed out in act 1. The stamp was made from a champagne cork to give it texture, and it resembled stamps I found doing research on old letters.

Rough cookie shapes cut out of foam.

The cookies, now painted, awaiting their turn at getting frosted with a slightly tinted spackle.

The now iced cookies drying. The icing would later crack and look quite realistic from the stage.

A handful of crates waiting to be painted. The props crew as a whole created many crates, and it is hard to distinguish who made which crates. These were just handed off to be base coated when the picture was taken.

Flat crates to decorate the act two attic. I created these with nearly no prior instruction.

Another crate.

Slats for breakaway crates, for a bar fight in act 1. They were made from thin balsa and 1x2.Hot glued together, they made a wonderful cracking sound when broken over the back of another performer.

A finished and painted breakaway crate. All of the crates in the show received a similar paint job, with the non breakaway crates a little better quality.

The last breakaway crate sees its future before the final showing of Fanciulla.

La Fanciulla del West, or The Girl of the Golden West, is an opera set in the rough and tumble times of the American West. The play centers around a mining town somewhere in California. Much research was done to replicate both how the west actually was, as well as how Hollywood interprets how the west was. As the artisan, I made and collected many props for this show. Then, because it was our most set and prop intensive show, I also helped to run it, unlike the other shows of the Des Moines Metro Opera 2015 season. Not shown in the pictures is the copious amount of caramel color whiskey I made for each run of the show.

Rappaccini's Daughter

Rappaccini's Daughter was a show with a fair amount of technical challenges I had not experienced before, or at least since high school. Set not in the Blank Performing Arts Center, like the other three shows of DMMO, this show was performed at the Des Moines Botanical Gardens outside. Working outside the normal space, and in Des Moines instead of Indianola, meant that we did not have access to all the amenities one might become accustomed to having, like a workshop. On site modifications and repairs were tricky, because we were allowed very few power tools. While I was the prop artisan for this show, I also helped with the installation and strike of both the set and the lighting scaffolding as well as props.

One of three parasols we removed the paper from and attached vines, ferns, and flowers to.

Another parasol, this time closed. The foliage prevented the parasols from closing fully.

A book that Beatriz appears with in a hallucination/dream of Giovanni's. It was a combination of a light up book that was in the props loft, as well as a metal nautical book made for a past show.

The metal nautical book. I removed the metal decorations from this to decorate the other book. The metal panel and insides were discarded.

The removed metal bits.

The leather panels I created to replace the bright red felt the light up book had previously for a Christmas show.

The leather panels in place, as well as one corner.

Another picture of the finished book.

A chess set we modified for this show. The gold pieces were originally a much darker gold, and it was impossible to tell the sides apart in the nighttime. We painted them a brighter gold, attached the pieces that did not need to move to the board, and added a decorative trim around the board.

A nighttime shot of the chessboard, with the director pointing out how the pawn moves.

A large collection of topiary pots from various shows in the DMMO history. They all got painted a brownish tan color. Unfortunately, I never thought to take a picture of them finished.

The set of Rappaccini's Daughter. While admittedly not a great picture, in this you can see the finished topiaries, as well as the other furniture made or painted by the assistant propsmaster.

Des Moines Metro Opera 43 Season

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