To get started with any set you should know the very basic things that we use every single time we build. Number one: Paint. Duh. Paint is my best friend. It can make everything look good.
This is my paint and my paint cart. For some reason, years ago we needed the cart as a prop and it was donated. I found it sitting sadly in the corner of the garage and snatched him up. My paint has to be hauled around alot, and it’s very helpful to have this guy or I would probably never put things back. Now about the paint, I realized after I took this picture that that can is the only one we have like that. Some times we buy mis-tinted paint off the shelves because it’s like $7.00. Score! But usually I grab a color sheet and ask them to mix me the cheapest flat paint they have. Flat paint looks waaay better under any lighting, and it’s easier to paint over. and over. and over. The Cool Whip container is what I use to mix paint. I have several little tubs that I keep on hand to make new colors. I don’t run out to buy new paint every time I do a set, I try to create new colors from leftovers if I can.
Next up, are our one man walls. When we first started building sets we built about 10 of these walls all in one afternoon. We knew how to build them from our theater experience in high school, and we also knew that we would get tons of use out of them. So the price didn’t matter. But still, these are fairly inexpensive! Here is the front and back of one of the walls:
The front of ours has obviously been painted, last time it was used it was Santa’s workshop! We made our walls of a few 1X4’s and a sheet of Luan which is like a super thin sheet of plywood. Ours are 4′ X 8′, but you can make them any size you want! We’re lazy, and the Luan comes 8′ tall- so we went the easy route. You just nail the boards together, or you can use screws, but for us- we went the lazy route again. Then line up the luan in one corner and staple it from the front along the edges.
Then carry it wherever you need it, and screw them together, and stand them up! Here’s the trick- lay them all face down with the bottom where you want it to stand, line them up and screw them together from the 1X4’s on the backside. Get a group of people to support the seams (where the walls are screwed together) and stand it up. We use these walls as a back drop in every set. I mean every. I can’t think of any we haven’t used them for. It can be as simple or elaborate as you want:
We love how these walls are easy to carry and quick to set up. Our set closet is located in the basement of our church on the opposite side of where the sanctuary is. These walls get painted and stored down there, but they are so light one person can carry them- hence the name! (even I can do it and I’m a wimp) Right now, we are also using these walls as a permanent fixture in the lower hall. I paint a new scene on this one every month for Sunday School when the theme changes:
And this one we set up in the corner of the room and we use the area behind it for storage and a ‘backstage area’:
That’s it! Those are the things we always have on hand- and use every single time we build, no question about it. This is where we begin to make stories real!