Visual Media

Theater Prop Handbook


How to fake it

How to fake just about anything. Makes use of the newest (styrofoam) and oldest (plaster) prop materials. Prop making skills are easily transferred, too. A lot of this fakery can go a long way in real life architectural and interior decorating. I have heard flex-glue referred to as book binder s glue, Swift s glue, and flex-glue (a manufacturer in Albuquerque calls it Phlex-glu ). Bookbinders call it by its formulation number, Swift s 43917. Swift, however, calls it a carton adhesive. I will stick with the name flex-glue, which is the most descriptive.

Flex-glue is, as the name implies, a glue which remains flexible after it has dried. It never becomes hard or brittle. Flex-glue should be used in the construction of any costume or prop which must be bent or manipulated.

Apart from its value as an adhesive material, flex-glue has many applications as a texturing medium. Mixed with shellac and dyes, it can be used to produce a convincing stage leather. It can be used as an embedding material to apply lace, fringe, or other decorative material to cloth or solid forms, and the decoration will appear to be an integral part of the form. A thick coat of flex-glue applied over a releasing agent produces a usable skin when it dries. Flex-glue makes a good gloss finish, similar to clear acrylic paint, but it builds up faster and produces a heavier texture more quickly than clear acrylic. This is a really versatile produce; it would be more accurate to call it flexible-texturing-material, but pretty soon that would become awkward, so flex-glue it is.


Let s talk about making books lighter. There is an advantage to making a bookcase weigh less. Books weigh, on the average, about 15 pounds per foot of shelf space. Sets of encyclopedias and law books weigh even more 25 pounds per foot. Shifting this weight during a scene change is an unnecessary strain. A row of faked books weighs only four pounds per foot. The whole secret to making books lighter? Remove the pages!


Liberally apply flex-glue to the muslin. Neatness is not much of a concern here; your main objective is to get a thick coat of glue on the cloth.


Making a fake but lightweight bookshelf. Glue each cover into place. Hot glue will work well for this operation.

-- KK 06/30/03