Sunday, 2 August 2015

Snow White and the Curse of the Ice Queen: The Magic Mirror

Photo by Ashley Foster
To tell you the truth, the first time I saw that the magic mirror had to be a person, and so was classed as a costume rather than a prop, and a movable one at that, I was slightly panicking inside. Wondering how on earth I was going to do this without making it a ginormous monstrosity, that wouldn't be that easy to get out of for the actor.

The actor himself is in a wheelchair, which actually made it easier to make a mirror into a costume, because it meant we had a structure to attach it to. So the costume would consist mainly of the mirror I would be making out of foam board and the actor would wear black trousers and t-shirt underneath, as there were going to be no set flats used. The background would just be the black curtains of the stage, hence using the black clothes (the photo to the left was taken before the mirror was attached; during the rehearsals/performances he didn't have to hold the mirror, he would also be wearing black trousers as said earlier).

For the mirror I decided to go for a Baroque or Rococo-esque styled mirror...basically so it would look fancy pants...I like to give myself a challenge, especially if it goes well and I'll end up with something that looks quite impressive.

Designs by Katie Pollitt
I had an idea in my head of what I wanted it to look like, but wanted  it to look authentic, style-wise, because I knew I couldn't make it authentically out of metal etc. Although I'd be up for trying to make one properly at some point, that could be quite fun and interesting actually...yeah...anyway. To make sure I had the right style in mind, I went on the internet to look at lots of different mirrors from the periods and used one as inspiration; but making it slightly simpler in order for it not to be too hard to cut out the intricate detail.

One of the adult members of the group offered their help with the production of the mirror, which would be supplying the materials and cutting the overall shape; I would then draw the design onto it, he would cut out the shaped edges and then I would paint it, however it didn't really end up going like that.
During one of the weekly sessions we discussed the dimensions of the mirror and the next week he brought a prototype in, made of cardboard. When holding up the oval to the actor we decided to make the inner oval the size of the outer edge, and whilst showing him the design I said where we would need to add more on the top and where to have the sides reach out to, to fit the shape onto. The next week he came back with a prototype made out of MDF, holding up to the actor, the inner oval was the right size. However there wasn't enough added space at the sides to fit the shape of the mirror needed. So I showed him the design again and we measured how much more we'd need and I asked that he just cut the new dimensions to a rectangle, and then he could cut the shape once I'd drawn it. The following week he had left me a piece of foam board (he'd gone on holiday, so I was unable to speak to him that week), however it wasn't a full rectangle; it was a rectangle with another smaller rectangle taped to the top, but not as wide as I had asked.

At this point we were getting close to the performance so I wouldn't have time to get him to make a bigger board for me then to have to draw the design on; pass it back to him to cut out the shape; to then give it back to me to paint; to give it back to him to attach to the wheelchair somehow. Instead I had to try to solve the size problem; draw and cut out by the next week; to then check the director was happy with how it looked, to then take home and paint. So to get started with the problem I traced the inner oval from the MDF prototype onto the foam board, using the outer shape as a guide as to where on the foam board to position it. I made the inner oval neater and more symmetrical,  then started to draw on the design to see if it would fit; but the width was not quite big enough, and was actually not as wide as the prototype, which I had asked to be wider.

As I didn't have enough of the foam board to fit the whole of the design on, I decided to cut out the inner oval of the mirror with a craft knife. I then cut the oval in half lengthways and attached these to both sides, where the design would stick out the most.  I did this by sticking duct tape down the seams on the front and back of the foam board. I used duct tape as this is what the adult member had used to attach the top part, he then wallpapered  one side for me to draw onto, so I re- wallpapered the front of the foam board  and the back just to make the sides I'd attached more secure.

I left the wallpaper to dry overnight and then went back to the easel to draw the design on again, using the extra space I had created. Once I was happy with the symmetry of the design it was then time to cut it out...ahhhh!

I cut out the edges of the mirror using a sharp craft knife, which took a while, but I don't think it would have looked as good if it was cut out as an oval and then the shape of the edges was just painted on.
I decided to paint the drastic shadows on first; going for drastic because of it being on a stage, and so being seen mainly from quite far away.

I was honestly quite scared about ruining it, but I thought it wouldn't look as good if it wasn't gold and expensive looking, so I just went for it. When painting the gold over the top I was still thinking it looked awful, until I took a step back, and it actually looked...pretty damn good, and effective.

On the day of the dress rehearsal the adult member had a go at attaching the mirror to the wheelchair, using segments of a pipe which would be attached to the lower section of the front of the sides of the chair. Two pieces of wood were then duct taped to the back of the mirror on either side and then slotted into the pipes at the bottom, to hold up the mirror, making it quick and easy for the mirror to come off and for the actor to get in and out of the wheelchair when needed. However when we came back later on in the week I noticed that the wood had fallen off the mirror, and so he would have to go through the positioning of the mirror again on the day of the production in a few days time. 

Luckily the mirror stayed attached for the performance and everyone thought it looked brilliant, so it ended well, even though it was a bit panickedy at times...

As always, thank you to Ashley Foster for the character portrait photo, if you want to have a look at his other work or more photos from the junior production please visit his website at  
If you are interested in the drama group itself that I do the costumes for please check out their website at or their facebook page

Anyway that's all for this week. Next week will be the last instalment of the Snow White and the Curse of the Ice Queen posts, ending with Prince Charming and his Page.

Talk to you then.

~ K

No comments:

Post a Comment