Monday, July 29, 2013

We've Hit the "Wooden Ceiling"...

(Friends Joe and Utah- playing Atlas!)
Readers I am so excited to share with you! This weekend friends Utah and Joe along with my Dad spent the weekend at the Casablanca to put in the ceiling.
(Living room)
(Bathroom, I'm just wild about the bead board!)
(The In-between of the living room and kitchen!)
It was fast work, Dad cut the plywood Utah, Joe, and I fitted the sheets and screwed them into the ceiling joists and by lunchtime both the bathroom and living room were done. It makes SUCH a huge difference, and its so exciting to be getting closer to having a real room! Friend Joe drove down six hours just to come and help us, and spend the weekend. Utah and Joe are my weekend Heroes!
In other FANTASTIC news, I have been watching this door at our Local Habitat for Humanity, it was $65.00.
I debated getting it (I love the idea that none of the doors in the Casablanca match, gives it character.) So picture my ecstasy when I go to check on the door and its been marked down from $65.00 to $20.00!!! I couldn't get my money out fast enough!
The cool thing about this door, is that it is two inches short, which means there will be plenty of room to put a transom window over it to let air into the bathroom. Transom windows have been on  list of "weird old things I dream about having." I also think I've got just the perfect window to use too!

I finally completed the landing to the front steps on Sunday morning.Using a few brick pavers lined with natural rock the landing matched the one on the front steps!

It was an awesome weekend of work and fun, Saturday after the construction was over we spent the afternoon watching Abbot and Costello movies and picked a few great lines- careful with em' they're antiques! Along with a viewing of "Journey to the Bottom of the Sea", watch out for the Van-Halen Belt.

I thank Utah, Joe, and Dad for all the help! Projects are moving along and hopefully by the end of September all the walls, doors, and trim will be up and in place.

"Now let's all head down to the champagne room, lemonade's on me!"


Friday, July 26, 2013

The Wizard of Oz

The Wizard of OZ has always been one of my favorites, It was wonderful designing the sets for this show, Perhaps because of a childhood listening to Judy Garland sing, and an avid love of technicolor. This production was the Wichita Theatre's "summer spectacular" for 2013.

(Uncle Henry, Dorothy, Toto, Aunty Em, the porch of the farm house circa 1939.)

My projects included-
  • The Kansas farm house and cellar
  • A busted chicken incubator 
  • Professor Marvel's Gypsy Wagon
  • The interior of the Wicked Witches castle
  • All the set dressing and props
The Kansas Farm House-
True to the classic, our stage production started out in a drab world of "sepia tone". I was worried that I would be forced to use a black and white color pallet (which can become boring in a hurry), but after reviewing the film I noticed all of the wonderful warm tones in various shades of sepia. I wanted to take a more "realistic" depression era approach to the farm house than MGM's signature " dusty white, one story Greek revival: home showed in the movie.  I ended up calling this style "rural decay" and I think what made it such a GREAT piece (my favorite) was all of the patinas working together.
(Farm house in early pre-paint stage.)
Originally there was supposed to be a solid roof over hang on the porch, but I like the way the shadows were cast from the supports so we left it at that.  
My inspiration for the weathered paint on the farm house, actually came from a viewing of  The History Channels "Hatfield & McCoy's" I spotted this door on the McCoy homestead and loved its weathered look.  I new I could replicate the same effect with paint, using a dark gray base coat and a bristle brush (off of a broom).
Here the rafters has been painted white, and the weathered paint technique has been completed. To imitate clap board we used a 1"x6" board and a large permanent marker (this is a three person job), to create a 3D look I used real windows and stapled lace onto the "insides" before screwing them to the exterior wall.  Then using brown paint and a sponge I dry brushed the rafters to have the same dirty patina as the screen door.
The weathered "front door" to the farm house and windows all had matching vertical lines (that door is actually going to be the back door to the Casablanca's new addition) I left the door chippy and weathered, the glass in the door and windows were naturally layered in dust and we left it as such, (a nod to the Dust Bowl of the 1930's.)
The floor front porch was then covered in weathered 1"x6" fence wood to give it a real front porch feel. The wooden crate table and two chairs harmonized with the brown tones in white paint. The carefully planed decay of this set piece is what made it my favorite.
The cellar received the same paint effects as the house, and incorporated more of the weathered 1"x6" boards for the door.
(This thing appears as if it could withstand a tornado!)
*  *  *
 The broken chicken incubator-
For the busted chick incubator we built a rectangular box with a lid that I covered in corrugated tin and barn wood. Pretty simple, I know that at some point some frustrated prop master will be Googl-ing sets for Wizard of Oz and will steal these ideas. (If you do just email me for permission and send me pictures of your production!) One of the HARDEST props to come up with was the score of "baby chicks" that Aunty Em and Uncle Henry are scooping out of the incubator while talking to Dorothy.
I found a terrific answer to this problem by cutting up tiny pieces of yellow foam rubber. An audience member only sees them for a split second and you don't have to keep live chickens! (a win-win for everyone!)
*  *  *
Professor Marvels Gypsy Wagon-
(Professor Marvel reads the unknown from his crystal ball.)
All of the lettering and decoration was done free handed with either a sponge or a small brush. If you look closely you will notice that the lettering is maroon and white...IN A SEPIA WORLD?! Well yes, I wanted to play a little trick on the audiences mind, have you ever watched an old black and white movie for so long that at points you see things turn blue, or red?  Well by this point in the show the audience has spent 15 minuets in the drab, melodramatic, and dusty world of Dorothy Gale.  It worked too!
(Notice the "Oz" emblem painted in the peak of the eve, 
this is what we call foreshadowing...)
The bottom half of the cart I cannot take credit for, (it is from a past production of "Fiddler on the Roof") the top I built using 2"x4"s and plywood.  I have to say one of my favorite props was in this scene, the Crystal Ball! 
It was a real glass ball I found in an antiques store and even from way out in the audience it was mesmerizing.
*  *  *
The Interior of the Wicked Witches Castle-
This part of the set had lots of favorite pieces of mine, pretty basic paint job of free form stones.
(Witches castle prior to painting)
 The door entering the room was covered in weathered 1"x6" boards, and I used an old towel hangar as the door pull.
One of my two most favorite things on this set is pictured above, the huge hour glass that Dorothy fearfully watches in the Wicked Witches absence. This prop gave me nightmares, because A) Where the heck does on get a GIANT hour glass, and B) The movie prop look a likes cost upwards of $600.00 (just a tiny bit out of my budget) So one day after discovering the ruins of the hour glass the theatre used in the last production (two, three liter plastic bottles taped together with sand in them) I was determined to come up with a longer lasting, less fragile alternative.
Again for all you prop and set stealers that flock to my blog, what you see here in a combination of  two plastic sand buckets, two plunger heads, two wooden stool seats, and three spindles of stair railing. It stands 22" tall and 11" across, it does NOT however actually drop sand...
Because of the no sand factor, when I painted the hour glass I did it in such a way that you cannot tell weather sand is falling or standing still. I am so pleased with how it turned out, (Considering the vague plan I had to put it together) it has been one of the most talked about pieces in the show!
  *  *  *
My second favorite thing in the Witches castle was the fireplace!
I repainted it from what it looked like in the picture below, to have the stone columns and the "Oz" crest on. All done free hand in about five minuets time.
(Fireplace before, bad picture I know.)

I love to paint!

The Props-
For the merry old land of Oz I chose to go with the 1938 crest design pictured above on the mirror.  I put it on everything I could!

 (On the gates of the Emerald City)
The Tin Mans Heart-
I formed the heart using cardboard and masking tape, it took a little time but it was fairly easy to do.

For the munchkin coroners 'certificate of death' scroll I used a piece of muslin, using pencil I outlined the lettering and border.

We also used glitter in a bucket to act as "water" dousing the witch-

It has been a wonderful production and I have enjoyed it thoroughly,  I'm starting to notice this years over all set theme at the theatre is "Decay" Im REALLY looking forward to West Side Story this fall.  Now I am off the yellow brick road and on to my next project, Walt Disneys stage production of "Cinderella".


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Step By Step...

Well Dear readers, I need to get a little construction hat made for Corabelle she is becoming a pro as an on site foreman and supervisor! To keep the wheel of progress spinning while Patricia is away, Dad and I tackled a few minor projects (and rested up for this coming weekend).
(The front of Pontipe Hall as of two weeks ago.)
As you can see in the above picture, right up until the present there has been a 16" drop from the floor of the new hall, to the ground out side... its been that way for a year. Now that things are finally starting to shape up it was time to step up to the plate. 
Don't look to closely you'll see Foreman Corabelle sniffing out all the paint blemishes. The paint doesn't bother me, first thing next spring we'll be repainting the whole house and all of the lawn chairs anyways. I ADORE the new steps, gone are the days of stepping out and snapping your jaw because you misjudged the step. Dad was terrific as always he had it all planned out and it went pretty quick. The only problem we encountered was that we had to dig under three of the stair supports to make them level, and there were three HUGE rocks boulders that had to be broken up with a  sledge hammer. (let me tell you, I am out of shape...) I have gotten lax in taking "after" pictures... the framing around the AC is now painted white, as is the new bathroom window. The steps are weather treated wood and I plan to just let them gray with age to hopefully match the original front steps one day.

I have been saving my pennies, and this weekend dad and I aided by a few of the regular Casablanca members will be putting the ceilings up in the living room and bathroom.

Wish us luck and send us good vibes with few obstructions!


Monday, July 22, 2013

"The Hotel Casablanca" by-Thomas Pasatieri

Well Readers, the living room furniture has made the big time! Haha as I told you a few posts ago Friend Zack wrangled a deal renting a few sets of furniture from the Casablanca Hotel & Resort to the Opera Breve production of "The Hotel Casablanca".
The opera and its talented cast preformed in Midwestern State University's Akin Auditorium, build in 1922 it is a beautiful hall.  The show was a two act opera set on a Texas ranch, and in the Hotel Casablanca in 1948, it was very "I Love Lucy/ mistaken identity/slapstick comedy" and a wonderful performance!
(Act 1, the living room "Double T" Ranch.)
We sat in the back and I discretely took pictures, the glare is bad, but to the right of the picture you can clearly see the two blue arm chairs, and in the center (heart of the glare) is the sofa!
(Act 2, the "Oasis Lounge" of the Hotel Casablanca.)
If you look closely the red vinyl tuffed bar is also from the Casablanca Hotel & Resort! The show was light with the zany antics of the characters and I'm happy I could rent furniture to the production! I mean HOW COOL, Casablanca furniture in a show about a hotel named Casablanca. 
Thanks to Zack funds procured by this venture will be going right into the ceiling of the new room, which will hopefully go up this next weekend!

Curtain Call!


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Desi & Lucy- Atomic Ranch Style!

Friend Michael stumbled across this neat photo and sent it to me, I LOVE the supports on either side of the porch. If you look very closely in the background, you can also see that the front door is studded with star-bursts.
SERIOUSLY how cool are these?! I wish I had some place to replicate and put them in our new addition.

Hmmmmm any ideas?!


Monday, July 15, 2013

Baby It's Cold INSIDE!

My goodness I am scratchy all over but we completed a lot of projects this weekend dear Readers!
(All the insulation for the new rooms!)
As I mentioned before, while Patricia is off romping around Europe...lucky, the rest of us at the Casablanca are trying to get a jump on construction. Bright and early Saturday morning dad came over to help me install the refurbished bathroom window, and new air conditioner .
(Nothing quite like putting a 60 yr old window in a BRAND NEW house!)
All the projects went surprisingly smooth. Let me tell you though, It was HOT! 106 degrees outside. 
(What I did with my "Wizard of Oz" Paycheck...)
To put the AC in we had to cut a hole in the wall and re-brace some things with a few cripple studs. At first I was worried about putting the window unit on the front of the house, I thought it would make a lot of noise, and be and eye sore.
But If I stand at just the right angle in the front yard...
You'd never know it was there! Around Noon on Saturday friend Russ came out to finish up the electrical work, and do some minor rewiring in the bathroom.
(I am 100% sure he doesn't know this picture exists, until now. Hi!)
Russ tested the two 1930's bathroom light fixtures I bought in Kansas last Christmas and surprisingly BOTH of them work! This may not seem like a big deal, but a while back I discovered they had actually been pull chain fixtures and someone had yanked the chains out, we were so happy when Russ hooked them up to the meter and we found out they were both "on" and ready to be installed!
Saturday afternoon, once Russ had finished the wiring my sister Mable and Dad came over to help me start insulating the ceiling.  This is undoubtedly and two person job and I learned if your going to be standing on a ladder all day, don't wear flip flops... no heel support. Dad fully expected us to get the entire thing insulated Saturday but after the ceiling my sister and I were both too worn out.


Sunday morning I got up to finish insulating the walls, in a few hours I knocked out the two weird walls, the West and most of the south wall, then around 1:00P.M. friend Utah came out to help me finish the rest,! It went so much faster having one person to cut the rolls of insulation and another up on a ladder stapling them in!
I had the AC running the whole time we were insulating, and by the time we were done it was CHILLY inside! Like Friend Utah said "one could be comfortable wearing a jacket in here."
(Utah waves hello to all of you out there in Blogland!)

I need to give a big thank  you to everyone who helped this weekend, we are seriously knocking projects out and we'll be putting the ceiling and walls up in no time!

OH! I nearly forgot, I also owe a big thank you to Friend Zack! 
He is currently preforming in a program here at Midwestern State University called Opera Breve' and they show they are doing is called- ready for this, "Hotel Casablanca" and they needed some 1940's furniture for their set. Zack sent them my way, and now for the next two weeks while we are under construction, the Opera Breve' people are renting the living room furniture fore $150.00!!!  That couldn't of worked out better if we'd planned it, of course all that rent money is going directly towards the soon to be ceiling and walls!

Hooray for great friends and progress!