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Sculpting costumes with 3-D printers is 'the way theater is headed,' say theater education experts

Date:
October 9, 2014
Source:
Baylor University
Summary:
Three-dimensional printers, which already have churned out toys, prosthetic limbs and one functional car, are taking the stage — literally -- in live theater. The new technology aids speed, creativity, flexibility -- and can satisfy directors who change plans midstream, says a former Disneyland costume designer.
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Three-dimensional printers, which already have churned out jewelry, prosthetic limbs and one fully functioning car, are taking the stage -- literally -- in another arena: live theater.

They allow greater speed, flexilibity, creativity -- and can appease directors who change their minds mid-rehearsal.

Synthetic beans and mushrooms -- accessories for the cursed, hump-backed witch in a Baylor University production of the musical "Into the Woods" -- recently emerged from a little machine tucked away in a corner of the costume shop at Baylor. And that's only the beginning for the new printer, says former Disneyland costume designer/wardrobe coordinator Joe Kucharski, assistant professor of theatre arts at Baylor.

Using his computer mouse and some free software, Kucharski tugged, flattened and pinched a digital "ball of clay" into the desired shapes: rotting vegetables, including two dozen beans and a dozen mushrooms. That done, the 3D printer heated and spun plastic cord into the delicate thread to create the costume elements for the witchy wardrobe.

Depending on the size and how complicated a design is, 3D printing may take 20 minutes to a couple hours.

"You can set a few buttons and walk away during printing," Kucharski said. "You can customize and print multiples, and you can use colors that are the whole range of the rainbow.

"Designers are always thinking, 'How can we design quickly but keep it adjustable so we're ready if the director says, 'Well, we're kinda there. . .'? We can go back and tweak quickly."

The printers have been used in film and fashion, and "it's a great application for scenic design in theater, too," he said. "You can use miniatures created on a small-scale model and save time instead of carving little details."

The 3D printer is rapidly becoming part of the "designer tool bag." While students still need to learn traditional drawing and creating, incorporating 3D technology into curriculum for costume and prop design can give them an edge in the job market.

"This is the way theatre is going," said Stan Denman, Ph.D., chair and professor of theatre arts at Baylor. "This even lets us create items that are no longer being produced -- like brooches or hatpins -- for period plays. Otherwise, because those things are antiques, the cost is prohibitive.

"This also can be helpful if you have an item that has to be broken in a scene," he said. "You can have multiple items to replace it for repeat performances."


Story Source:

Materials provided by Baylor University. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Cite This Page:

Baylor University. "Sculpting costumes with 3-D printers is 'the way theater is headed,' say theater education experts." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 October 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/10/141009153807.htm>.
Baylor University. (2014, October 9). Sculpting costumes with 3-D printers is 'the way theater is headed,' say theater education experts. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 20, 2024 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/10/141009153807.htm
Baylor University. "Sculpting costumes with 3-D printers is 'the way theater is headed,' say theater education experts." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/10/141009153807.htm (accessed July 20, 2024).

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