The Three R’s of Props Reuse, Recycle, Refinish

With limited budgets, prop designers are always on the hunt for antiques crying out for a makeover. This explains why they’ve always got their eyes peeled for unique finds at garage/rummage/yard/estate sales. If they can find an affordable piece of furniture that matches the style/time-period of the project they’re designing for, they can probably reuse, recycle and refinish the piece to bring it back to its former glory.

For Example - this vanity from the early 1950’s, with its scratches and warped wood, has clearly seen better days. But with a little elbow grease and a little help from a great line up of Rosco scenic products, it could be transformed into furniture fit for the stage. Take a look:

Step 1:

This is probably the toughest part – sanding the vanity down as much as possible without ruining the brittle aged wood. Use a high-powered sander for most of the larger surfaces, then work your way into the tiny details manually or with a detail sander. Brush off all the excess dust and make sure the surface is completely clean. Add wood filler to smooth out any chips and jagged edges that have built up over time. The excess should be wiped off and lightly sanded to ensure a smooth finish. This process could take as long as 5-6 grueling hours, but it’s necessary to create a fresh new surface for the next few steps.

Step 2:

Applying Rosco’s Tough Prime Black will give the vanity a black base-coat with a satin finish. Tough Prime sticks to just about anything and, if you’re looking for a paint that will stand the test of time, Tough Prime lives up to its name – which is important for a prop furniture piece that could be moved/bumped around a lot during production.

Step 3:

Here’s the step where the magic happens. Place a large piece of lace over each drawer individually and apply Rosco Clear Gloss Acrylic Glaze with a sponge. Dab it carefully while trying not to move the lace. Let it dry then carefully remove the lace, and Voila! You’ve got a beautiful, shimmery lace pattern on each drawer!

Step 4:

Finally, complete the project with some brushed silver knobs from a local hardware store to give the vanity a touch of elegance.  Now that beat-up, scratched vanity found at a yard sale is ready for its stage debut!

Designing, creating and renovating props and scenery will always present new and exciting challenges. Remember that Rosco will always have products like Tough Prime and Clear Gloss Acrylic to help solve those challenges!

Chanda Goldsworthy October 20, 2015 Questions?

About Chanda Goldsworthy