Duct out of water.

We're in a kind of an in-between stage at the moment - but a lot of stuff has been goin' on.Rich finished up all the horizontal bracing for the studs in the first wall... dsc_0627.jpg

Each time a horizontal run crosses a vertical, those runners get three screws. So if you think about there being 3 horizontals along the height of the stud to the ceiling - it's a LOT of screws! It's repetitious jobs like that which drive me mental.... I don't know how Rich does that kind of thing. I guess it's why I was never suited to a 'normal' routine job... cuz I'd lose my marbles!


After all those hundreds of little screws were in place, the building inspector, Shad, came and checked out wall #1. Intelligently, Rich thought it might be a good idea not to order eight gazillion dollars worth of materials for walls #2 and 3 IF for some reason there was any issue with the overall plan. So the inspector came in and said everything was 'hunky dory'. Ok - he may not have said 'hunky dory' - but it was the technical equivalent. Yippee.

So - that means Rich took another bucket of measurements and made lots of little charts that no one but Rich can understand, and he's placed the next order. Money-wise that's gonna sit things pretty tight up until the summer shows... but that's why you want to buy season tickets, right now, doncha? Cuz you want us to finish this mother. So, in about a week even TALLER studs will arrive for the center and side walls... We're gonna do the center one first - the one that frames out the proscenium. And the header which will run along the top of the proscenium was actually quite a bit more economic than Rich imagined - so that's great.

Chris and Rich did some exploratory poking in the ceiling and crawled around up in the...um... giant cavernous crawl space of death above the auditorium ceiling. And - by some bizarre miracle of 'this never happens to us'-ness, there is a giant ol' beam RIGHT above where the proscenium wall needs to tie in. Rich had calculated it so he knew it would be near by - but it worked out practically spot on - which makes things a heap easier. Apparently.

He's cleared even MORE stuff out of the auditorium so it's really pretty open now for the scaffolding to move around. It has to be to be able to span the front wall length. While Rich was working on all that stuff I began to experiment with the paint treatment for the marble that is going to run all the way round the auditorium about four foot high. I used to be pretty good at scene painting marble (cuz of the ol' masters in set design) - but it had been a good 10 years since I needed to try it out. I also had never done one that was going to be viewed from a few inches away - rather than 20 feet. Plus, I had never done one to try and match an architectural color scheme. So I did a whole lot of on-line research and found various blues and browns and blacks that might work. I eventually settled on trying to recreate a kind of black/brown marble. So I went to Lowe's and did Rich's favorite, favorite thing. I stared at a wall of paint for about an hour immobilized. Walls of paint can be very intimidating. See - when you are doing stuff for a show, you can kind of take a bunch of different colors and kind of mix like your futzing around in a kitchen. When you need to paint 60 feet of identical looking marble - it means you can't mix it to sight. Because you'll never reproduce the colors exactly. So I have to pick existing paint colors and work with those.

So I spent about 200 bucks on experiment paint... which sucks to have to do... but there wasn't much of a way around it. I brought home about seven different quarts of colors. Including pure black and white. And then, after basing a sample piece of 1/4" ply with black, I started to play. Painting marble, the way I learned, is about the wettest thing in the world. You work with paint about the consistency of skim milk and just slosh your way like a three year old making puddles. And then you let it dry. Then you slosh. Then it dries... so it takes a while because of the stages. Doing each stage is actually not that time consuming - except for doing the veining. Anyway - when the time comes to do all of these for real I'll probably do a little time elapse video for you. The real snafoo I hit came from the rake of the floor... I thought it would be slight enough that things might not drip... but when I do the real ones we definitely need to build me some kind of a level surface to puddle on (cuz the spatter slides slightly in the direction of the floor otherwise). What's so funny about painting marble is that it's a very additive process which involves glazes - so the colors you start with are NOT the colors you end up with in the final product (which is why it's freakin' hard to choose the colors you need!). But Rich kept watching me do it - and after every stage he'd be like..."I thought it looked weird... but it looks better". Pretty much every new layer "I thought it looked weird...but it looks better"!

I knew that a lot of faux artists use feathers for marble veins - but scenic artists (because the stuff is viewed from a distance) don't normally do it smaller than a 1/4 inch brush... But this was a lot closer detail work...so i tried it. OMG I love the way it works... when the paint is thin enough the veins just kind of naturally branch and scatter as you spin the feather. It's so much faster and looks less 'painted'. So the final part of the experiment was the last tinted glaze - and I knew that the marble wanted to either look primarily black or primarily brown. So I just glazed over half the 4x8 piece with both options. The brown looked really muddy and kind of fake. The black glaze looked really nice - and Rich loved it. So - done. I thought I might start painting this stuff soon-ish because it's gonna take a while... and just stockpile it. But because they need the space for running the scaffolding and because there's a lot of dust at the moment, it doesn't make sense. But I've made notes and I'm ready to go when the time comes.

This picture is actually during the second to last phase... before the last glaze goes on (which deadens the brightness of the white lines and gives it more sheen and depth). marble.jpg

I also did a rendering of what we think the final proscenium patterns will be. proscenium-detail-mockup.jpg

The black at the side would be the opening of the stage. I created the pattern for that new maze-like moulding and we ran it through the machine. It looks really nice. I just have to create that diamond/circle runner and Rich can actually start making real lengths of the stuff. The layers of the fish scale stuff will sort of step downward so the part closest to the audience is the stuff on the left and then as it moves towards center stage it staggers back on each level - which should give a nice sense of depth. Then the inside return edge will be the maze patter surrounded by diamond runner on each side. Kind of excited about it. Still need to work out the sort of base plinth detail and adjust the very center keystone - but this is the bulk of the brain power taken care of!

There was a nice little article about me doing the Shakespeare project in the high schools...

And in other educational news - one of my university students decided to take this somewhat hilarious photograph of me, supposedly 'TEACHING'. joel-in-class.jpg

My only guess is that I am demonstrating how to portray a very camp version of Puxotawny Phil in the musical version of 'Groundhog Day'.

We also did our annual gig hosting Miss Huntington. And I'm kind of excited because the winner this year has a really, really nice voice. Rich and I were both very impressed. What I am not impressed about is this is our fourth year hosting, and still... no sash...no tiara...not even so much as a scepter. SERRRIOUSLY. crowning683.jpg During the dress rehearsal one of the practice interview questions that they asked a contestant was "What's the best piece of advice you've ever been given". I was very, very glad that I wasn't a contestant because the first thing that popped into my mind is the age-old Najuch mantra: "Never eat seafood in a land-locked state". Which probably would not have won me a crown. Unless I wanted to be Miss Maine.

While we're waiting for the new studs to arrive (fill in your punchline here)... Rich and Bob have been excavating the sections of the ceiling curves (I don't know how else to describe it) that used to house the original heat ducts. Basically they need to get the sides of the room to the same height as the center of the room so they can run the headers. I'm amazed at how much they've done - but it is super messy. It's like a plaster blizzard in there. The nice thing is - that the stuff behind the new proscenium comes out pretty cleanly - which means we can eventually gain space above the stage to bring more things in and out. So the nearest edge in this picture is where the new proscenium wall will start: dsc_0628.jpg

And here's a shot from the other side... dsc_0632.jpg

I'm sorry those pics aren't clearer - it's hard with all the dust and so little light in there. Rich is going to try and rig up some additional work light so that the camera can document things a little more easily... with the poor little flash trying to fill in over a distance of 30-some feet - it's a losing battle!

All righty - that's enough to keep ya happy, I hope. I'll tell you all about casting stuff soon.... I'm excited. :) Jo Jo.