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Creative Staging: Top 10 Inexpensive Finds for Dramatic Results

6. Patio Umbrella Stands

Patio umbrella stands will hold 2″ conduit perfectly. They work very similar to lighting boom bases, but are more readily obtainable and have a better look. It is a great quick effect for creating street signs or light poles, and they come in a number of designs so that you can get the look you want.

7. Styrofoam

Styrofoam is a material that is used extensively in theatre and film to create carved items, stone, and concrete. It comes in two forms that are available locally at HI stores in a variety of thicknesses. White beadboard (similar to the foam that makes up Styrofoam coolers) can be glued together, gouged, carved, and roughed up to resemble rock and stone. You can also carve statuary. High Density insulation foam (usually pink or blue in color) can be worked similar to wood. It is excellent for creating formed stone (such as brick), concrete, or lightweight oversized molding. What many people don’t realize is that you can sand Styrofoam and actually get a very smooth finish that takes paint (water based only) very well. You can also coat it with glue soaked fabric and create walkable surfaces (such as sandy beaches).

A word to the wise, don’t use solvent-based glues or paints on foam. The foam melts, which creates really cool effects but releases noxious gases (such as chlorine and cyanide). Once again, always wear a chemical cartridge respirator when working with plastics.

8. Wire

Wire comes in a plethora of types and sizes. The greatest thing about wire is that it is easily shaped by hand. Take Romex for instance. Romex is a flat residential wiring product that comes in spools and is inexpensive. If you take chunks of Romex, bend them into filigree shapes, wire tie them together, put them in a PVC frame, and paint it gloss black you get what looks like a formal stair or balcony railing. If you draw out a template and have lots of volunteers, you can turn out more railing than you need in hours.

Another wire that is readily available at your local HI store is bare copper. It comes in large gauges (size of wire), is purchased by the linear foot, and is easily cut and joined together using wire ties, solder, or just hot glue. It already has a great looking finish and can be used to create very durable specialty items such as artwork, wire sculptures, etc.

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Russell Reid spent the early part of his career working in professional and university level theatre. Now as a consultant at Acoustic Dimensions, he applies theatrical concepts to the design of worship centers