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The Arts Centre job

by Sayraphim on October 23, 2008


Chookas is The Arts Centre’s festival it runs for kids every year. The theme this year is a circus/Dr Suess one and it’s going to look ace!

One of the producers contacted me a week and a half ago, they needed 50 Front of House uniforms for the guys, and I had a 11 days to make them in. The brief was it needed to fit in with the circus/Dr Suess theme, and it needed both the Chookas and Arts Centre logos on it. And the budget wasn’t huge. As in, it wasn’t much at all.

I wanted to go a bit wacky and Cat in the Hat while still staying true to the Arts Centre corporate style. A big ask, but not an impossible one.

So above is the original plan. It utalises the uniform they already have, the black tshirt with the Arts Centre logo on it, which custs down the cost.

The three circles are badges, the top badge is the Chookas logo, the bottom two are buttons. Then there is a big bow tie, Cat in the Hat style, stripey sleeves with shirt cuffs and then not pictured is a red white and black tail too.

Three of those eleven days was taken up with bump out of Totem, so I had 9 days to make all of this stuff, 50 bow ties, 50 tails, 100 sleeves with cuffs. But I did it, and handed them in yesterday. I took some shots before they left my house, but I’ll wait til the festival to show the entire ensemble on.


These are the sleeves, created from socks that have been cut up, and then stitched to the cuffs. Each pair has a white and a black button, the white buttons are sewn on with black thread, and the black buttons with red thread. The cuffs are different sizes and the buttons are deliberatly stitched on differently, either with a cross or two dashes, to ensure that there’s a bit of Cat in the Hat chaos to the items.


These are the tails, created from fleece plaited and tied at each end. Each tail has a little loop of elastic at one end, to enable the wearer to attach it to a belt loop at the back of their pants.

These are the bow ties, all 50 of them. Just before they were finished. They just needed to have their ends cut with pinking shears. Damn! I should have photographed them after that! My original plan was to use fleece for everything, since it doesn’t run, but it’s late spring and I was worried that the guys would overheat. It’s really important when designing costumes to remember that people have to wear them and do whatever they do in them. Try to picture yourself wearing whatever you’ve designed. I imagined that wearing a big bow of fleece under my chin would make me really hot, plus fleece cuffs around my wrists while doing stuff would make it worse. So I changed the design to be cotton/polyester instead. That meant I needed to use really thick interfacing as well, to ensure it stayed the right shape. You’ve got to be flexible in designing as well. The idea you had might have been perfect at the time, but you need to be willing to change it as you go and as you discover things. Don’t be precious about the original idea to the detriment of the final product.

This makes me think of creating props too. Often when people make props, they forget that the reasons props exist is that actors need to use them. I’ve seen so many times people making fragile or precious props and then if the actors break them in normal use, the prop is gone. Always remember the final destination of the prop, which is in an actor’s hand. Ensure you make it as tough and as durable as you possibly can.

So there is Dr Sayraphim’s short lecture on prop making. And now back to the Chookas fesitval.

And lastly, the badges. I was really happy with these too. They came from www.stayhuman.com.au and they turned out really well. They’re really shiny, so they didn’t photograph as well as I’d hoped, but they still look ace.

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