Saturday, February 6, 2010

A Very Useful Book - The Prop Builder's Molding & Casting Handbook

If you are like me, you have entertained the idea of making your own molds for casting at one point or another. This prospect can be a pretty daunting one as a good number of the skills and practices of this art are hard to learn, require a good amount of experience to get right and can be a bit specialized and pricey in their materials. This is why the Prop Builder's Molding And Casting Handbook is such an incredible book.

Thurston James, also known for his Theatre Props Handbook, makes the entire process of molding and casting seem rather straight forward and matter of fact. Simple processes, walking through specific examples heavy with photos guide you through a number of prcoesses you are bound to encounter when making your own cast materials. But it's not just the examples, it's the experience and wisdom he pours into the examples and instructions that I find very useful.

The book has all sorts of useful lists and sub sections and though the focus is on prop-making for theatre it can all be scaled to any project. A one-page listing of common casting materials and their recommended mold releas agents is provided, along with a section on casting with common hardware store products. There is a good glossary of terms and even a section on where to get stuff. This last bit is not just a list of manufacturers with contact info (though it also has that) but tells you what items can be picked up at drug stores, hardware stores, specialty shops, etc.

But wait, there is still more. If you are particularly motivated and the handy hardware type, there is even an entire section on vacuum forming including a how-to on making your own vacu-forming machine. I could never do this, but I am sure there are some among you who can/could/will.

I have to admit, space, time and funds have never really allowed me to make use of this book, even though I've had it for years, but I do find myself coming back to it time and again and some day I may get gutsy enough to pour some resources into some molding and casting.

Who knew you could freeze store bought fish and make a mold to cast props for a fish monger's stall?

Check it out and enjoy,



  1. Are the suggestions applicable to casting scenery in miniature?

  2. Most of the book is applicable. He covers several materials and several methods of molding. There isn't much difference between casting a crown prop or a decorative lion's head and a building or rock formation.

  3. I've entertained the idea of making my own stuff, but don't have the patience.

  4. I keep meaning to try something, but as mentioned in the post, I have had the book for a couple years.

  5. Looks interesting. Now to get it via eBay / Amazon in Europe...


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