WEEK THIRTEEN DESIGN PROJECT: Create a prop for The Glass Menagerie

WEEK THIRTEEN DESIGN PROJECT: Create a prop for The Glass Menagerie

This week you will need to research, design and actually create a workable hand prop or set dressing piece for a production of “The Glass Menagerie.”

1) You will need to first choose a prop to design and create. Some simple examples are:

  • Laura’s yearbook (The Torch) and/or the Pirates of Penzance program
  • Jim’s Lifesavers
  • The photograph of Tom and Laura’s father
  • Tom or Jim’s pack of cigarettes
  • A diagram of typewriter keys

A more ambitious project might be:

  • an old fashioned telephone, or
  • Laura’s Victrola (which doesn’t need to work, just needs to be convincing)


2) Once you’ve chosen a prop you will need to do research to find out what the prop looks like. For instance, if you are designing the pack of cigarettes, you will need to find out popular brands of cigarettes from the 1930s, you will need to know what the labels and packaging looks like, and so forth. If you are making the picture of Tom’s father, you need to be sure he’s wearing a First World War hat somehow.

3) Once you’ve done your research, you need to problem solve how to create the prop. How will you make a convincing 1930s cigarette pack? Will you cover an existing one with a new design? Will you create or find a box the exact size of a cigarette pack and cover it with a label? How will you make the photograph of the father look convincingly old? What kind of frame will you put it in? If you are making “The Torch” what sort of cover design will you do so it looks suitable corny and period appropriate?

4) Then you need to make decisions about the prop’s final look based on your visual metaphor for the play. If you have a highly unrealistic design, you might want to create an unrealistic prop. You might want to use a certain color scheme (ALL WHITE or EVERYTHING GRAY). You might want to make the prop representational or literal.

5) Finally, you need to create the prop.

6) Document your process, with text and photographs, cite your research, explain your decision making process in terms of your overall design and snap a picture of your final creation so I can see what a great job you did.


My research showed me the most popular cigarette brand in the 1930s was Lucky Strike.http://www.underconsideration.com/brandnew/archives/lucky_strikes_out.php#.WJjhYNIrKUk (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.)

During that period they switched their packaging from white to green, but for this show, I’m going to go with the green pack for Tom because I think it will be more visible from the audience. (My feeling is Jim would use a cigarette case anyway, instead of the pack, so I’ll be digging up a cool cigarette case for him!) AND the green pack fits better (I think) with my “Dead Jonquil in a Vase” visual metaphor. The green pack is more “plant like,” more organic-looking.



To make my Tom cigarette prop, I

1)printed out the Green Lucky Strike logo and fiddled with it in Photoshop, until I was able to have something the exact right size and shape for a pack of cigarettes.

2)Then I printed it out and glued it on an existing box the exact size and shape of a cigarette pack. I found my box at the box store–they have every size you can think of. I made my cigarette pack by cutting up two of the 4×4 trinket boxes into the correct size and shape:

Link (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

3) When the box was created and covered, I filled with white paper cylinders and two e-cigarettes Tom can “light” and “smoke”:

WEEK ELEVEN DESIGN PROJECT: Costume Plot and Rendering for The Glass Menagerie

This week it is your job to come up with a costume plot and designs for one of the characters of “The Glass Menagerie.”

You should have already chosen either Laura, Amanda or Tom as the character you will be designing for this week.

You should have already completed your through line and analysis for this character.

Now it is time to do some brainstorming, research, synthesis and sketching to come up with some costume designs for your character.

For your final project you should turn in

  • a written explanation of the costume choices – how the costumes help illustrate or support the character’s journey, how the designs help support your vision of the play, how the designs show the given circumstances — basically a written explanation of your process and choice-making


The Glass Menagerie is a play about the dissolution of an American Family during the Great Depression. A faded Southern belle has been reduced to scrabbling for a living because her husband left her. Her oldest son is trapped in a job he hates and longs to run away. Her daughter is too disabled to support herself. A last ditch effort to solve the problem–by marrying her daughter to a nice, young man–does not pan out. No one wins.

Central Idea: Death of a family and a way of life. Guilt, loyalty, fragility, entrapment.
Graphic Image: A dead jonquil in a crystal vase.

Except for the dinner party scene, when Amanda puts on her brightest colors, all of Amanda’s costumes are the colors of faded, dead flowers–palest pink and brown, pale yellow and brown, beige and light green.  Because she is a Southern Belle, all her clothes are very neat and proper. Because she’s poor her clothes are a little bit out of style. They are worn, but pressed and clean. Amanda grows gradually “browner” as the play progresses. At the end of the play she has shrugged on a sweater the color of rotting leaves, fully covering herself in the detritus of her life.

  • full color costume renderings of at least three different “looks”for your character (drawings of what those costumes will look like)
  • Your costume plot (for that character – including ALL scenes and costume changes and all costume pieces)


Be sure to:

  • USE THE RESEARCH, on dress styles and hair styles in our class research depository
  • INTEGRATE your character through line into your final design–if you character journeys from sadness to happiness, for instance, how might you show that through costume? What color choices, and style choices could illustrate this journey? If your character moves from despair to hope and back to despair, how might this be reflected through costume?
  • REMEMBER GIVEN CIRCUMSTANCES, the character’s socio-economic status, the time period, and the geographic location, even the weather can be shown through costume
  • LET THE ACTION OF THE PLAY GUIDE YOU from scene to scene. No one in this play is rich, so not everyone needs a new costume every time the lights come up. But if there’s a party, everyone should have a party dress.
  • CONSIDER PRACTICAL PROBLEMS IN YOUR PLOT–it’s hard to do a complete costume change in the blink of an eye. But a character can slip on a black cardigan sweater very quickly, and create a whole new look in the blink of an eye.
  • INTEGRATE YOUR DESIGN STATEMENT into the final explanation



  • Submittinga text entry box, a website url, a media recording, or a file upload

For this week’s Drawing to Scale practice, you should draw the Performing Arts Theater floor plan, , in half inch scale (1/2 inch :1 foot) or quarter inch scale (1/4 inch: 1 foot).

This is what the space looks like. It is a simple proscenium stage with an apron.

The stage dimensions are 43 feet wide, and 16 feet deep (43 x 16)

There is also a semicircular apron that extends an additional 6 feet beyond the stage midpoint, and tapers on either side.

For this assignment you will need

  1. a pencil,
  2. eraser,
  3. ruler,
  4. a large piece of paper (at least 22 inches by 9 inches for 1/2 inch scale)
  5. a protractor or T square for making good right angles,
  6. and probably a compass for drawing a smooth curve:
  • Begin by dividing 43 and 16 and 6 into half, so you know how many half inches you need to draw your picture to scale (or into fourths for 1/4 in scale).
  • Measure out the rectangle first (21.5 X 8 inches, I hope for 1/2 inch scale for instance ) using ruler and protractor, and draw it on your paper
  • Find the midpoint (divide the stage in half–mark it with a tick point, or dotted line)
  • Then measure out the six foot apron at its biggest point (3 inches for 1/2 inch scale)
  • Use your compass, or a curved ruler, or any other tool, to draw a smooth, even curve on either side.
  • Be sure to label your drawing (FA 100 Stage Floorplan, 1/2 ” : 1′)

Hint: your drawing should look something


WEEK THIRTEEN DESIGN PROJECT: Create a prop for The Glass Menagerie
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