Really Big Art

By Charles T. Jackson

After the new year, I had gotten the go ahead for the set of our Community Theatre’s 2011 Winter production of “Joseph and his Technicolor Dreamcoat”.  I had already built the downstage stairs, so that was out of the way. All that was left was to build a massive pharaoh head. Having sat down and discussed the design with the director at this point, we decided that it would take up way to much stage to just leave it sitting there. She decided that she would like to hang it from the fly. I said that I would redesign it smaller and get back to her. Well, I made it smaller. I took a full six feet ofo of the original design and presented a 15′ x 15′ pharaoh head design that was immediately approved. As I had become accustomed to doing with sets that I had designed, I had to now sit down and figure out how to do what I had designed. Of  course there were several lost nights of sleep over this one, but I decided that the only way to do it, was to do it. IMG_0629
So I laid all the full flats that the design required out in the driveway, and surrounded the flats with what would become the shaped flats. I started at the bottom and drew out the shape on the right of the full panels.
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I then cut the shape out used it as a template for the other side.
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I did the same to the upper pieces and at this point have established the basic shape of the Pharaoh head. As you can see it was quite cold, and the snow had been quite deep at one point. That’s why I am only now getting this huge project started with only 13 days left until the opening of the show!! I was getting very nervous. I was lucky this day in that I had my neighbor blocked in with this while I was working on it, and she only emerged from the house when I had wrapped up all the cutting. PHEW!!!!
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I laid the shaped pieces onto 3/4 inch plywood, and cut the outer shape out. With the shape now exposed, I used the guide that can be seen laying on the above plywood to trace out a 3″ frame of the shape leaving a 3″ brace in the middle. I then cut out the inner portions of the shape.
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All of this work resulted in a solid frame for the luan that would match the full sized flats, making the fully assembled piece significantly more stable than if I had tried to attach the unsupported luan.
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I was very pleased with the end result, but was not digging working in the snow again. In my next post I will cover how I initially painted, and transferred the image. Thanks for stopping by!!