Monday, November 11, 2013

Making Ursula's Trident (a Little Mermaid Jr. Stage Prop)

Ursula's Trident for The Little Mermaid Jr.

     If you've looked around only briefly, you know there are not too many pictures online of Ursula's trident.  Last year when I was an official scenery design person for the Little Mermaid Jr., I didn't even realize Ursula had her own trident.  If you want to find a picture of it online, search for the Little Mermaid on Broadway - it's a theater prop. The best picture I've seen is in the souvenir booklet you can buy when you see the professional theater production.  Now, as a parent helping out with props and scenery in a different school, when the director showed me a picture of this little known item, I said, 'Sure I think I can make that.'  

     She gave me a very nice, weathered-looking stick to use for the staff portion of the trident.  I took it home, and as soon as Crazy Dog saw it, she chewed a hearty portion off one end...

     I should have known she wasn't just photo-bombing my shot, here.  

     Luckily, I found a couple of alternative sticks in the yard. 

Here's a photo of some of what you'll need...

Subtract the duct tape (I didn't use it) and add: scissors, paper towels, a sewing machine and a drill with a drill bit slightly bigger than the wire of the hangers.   

     Since these tines are supposed to be in a flattened shape at the bottom, I took this stick over to my dad's house and had him drill a hole through the center of the stick at one end so I could thread a clothes hanger wire through the stick to make a nice, sturdy base.  

     I then added two more coat hangers - one on each side of the stick, carefully bending it in a U shape so they would stay stable, and look nice and neat.

I twisted all the wire hangers together using pliers.

     Unfortunately, I only asked Dad to drill one hole in the stick for me, having completely forgotten about the tine in the middle.    It would have been better to have a drilled hole, but since I couldn't find OUR drill anywhere, (we won't go into that topic now) and I didn't want to make another trip to Dad's house... in desperation, I made a hole in the end of the stick with an awl I found in the garage, and then I glued it in place with my friend, the glue gun.  

I also glued the other wires, just for good measure, and to prevent them from wobbling back and forth.  

     Next, I wrapped each of the tines with white paper toweling (another reason to love Bounty Paper towels.  They haven't paid me to say that, but Bounty, if you want to throw me a free roll or two that would be LOVELY).  Anyway, I wrapped and glued them down.  Careful!  Don't burn yourself with that killer hot glue gun!

     In the same way, I wrapped each tine with blue fabric and glued that down as well.  In hindsight, I probably should have used a different colored fabric for the tines as for the shells to give it a little contrast.  Or I could have covered the tines with shiny, copper colored duct tape - ooooohhhh - that would have been FANCY!  Oh well.  You might want to give that a try. 

     Next, I cut a shell shape out of both fabric, and interfacing.  My fabric was so thin and transparent, I used four layers of fabric (two on each side) and two layers of very thick interfacing. 

     Above is my initial shell shape.  I left the three middle points as well as most of the bottom open so that when I turned it right side out, the tines could poke through the holes.  I tried it on the stick and discovered that it was too big, so I turned it back and reworked it until I had a workable shell-shape.  

     Then I hand sewed the bottom closed, and added some vertical sewing lines to keep the shell in place and also give it some more definition.  

     If you're undertaking the creation of this prop, I'd go with a smaller shell to really show off the tines, and as I said earlier, I different color for the tines than for the shell.  All in all, I'm pretty happy with this one.  

Good luck, friends!  

As for me, I'm on to the next project!


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