Sunday 27 August 2023

Props on a Shoestring by Claire Fayers

 I love using props and costumes in events. It gives the children something to look at besides my aging face, and I can show the children how to improvise stories using props.

With a new book due out in September and very few events happening over the summer, I've been creating. I usually fill my props bag with a random household items and a few book-specific ones bought from the local craft markets. This year, I decided to go big. I also didn't want to spend much money, so I had to use my very shaky crafting skills.

This was actually quite easy. I bought a cheap mdf cut-out of a submarine from Etsy and spray painted it. The propeller broke when I took it out of the packaging, but the book starts with a broken propeller so it felt appropriate. Total cost, around £10.

I cheated and bought a periscope. It's been sitting on the windowsill where the cats watch the birds. I haven't seen them use it yet, but I must remember to clean the hairs off it before taking it off on adventures. 

My biggest project was the space diving helmet. I made this from a paper lampshade, papier mache and cardboard. My next door neighbour is a diver and as luck would have it, he had a replica I could use as a pattern. We had glue at home and I used the free food newspapers from Waitrose. So far it's only cost me the price of a lampshade.

The biggest investment was paint - black undercoat and bronze spray on top. My neighbour cut a face place for me from a sheet of acrylic. The ear and top pieces are ice-cream carton lids, and I added strips for foam draught excluder for the criss-crossing. Total cost for the paint and lampshade came in at around £15.

The finished article, modelled by my husband, who didn't sign up to this when we got married:

That's me all set. By the time you read this, I'll have done my first event at a festival in South Wales. 

I haven't quite worked out how to carry everything, or what I'll do with it all once the events are over. I guess I'll just have to write a sequel so I can use everything again.

Claire Fayers

Tapper Watson and the Quest for Nemo Machine is out on September 9th.


Joan Lennon said...


Susan Price said...

Ingenious! Knock 'em dead at the festival.

Penny Dolan said...

That looks fun, Claire! The helmet looks spectacular. Props are great fun though I was always glad when a school let me and my bags run the sessions from one or two locations. Good luck with your book.