craftslesson6 solomon

Since you are reading this I must assume that you have read the other lessons and are a glutton for punishment. Some one told me once that any Professor who was worth his salt would become eccentric in his old age and probably would become a bore. I certainly hope that these lessons have not become boring to you and that you will continue to at least audit the class and continue to let me share my opinions and pass along to you some of my eclectic ideas.

In this lesson I want to discuss ambiance. The dictionary defines this as the distinct atmosphere of an environment. One might call it the mood; the feeling or tone, the aura of if you wanted to get fancy the milieu.

The storyteller sets the mood or the tone of the story with his vocal presence. The seriousness of his presentation can be somber or it can be elated depending on the storytelling abilities. Our props add to the ambiance and while we can not ever be sure of what the performance situation may bring, we can enhance the presentation and set the mood with a few simple props.

There isn't much you can do to enhance the performance area at the local magic club and the "wrinkled rag in the thumb tip crowd" won't appreciate what you are trying to do.( "Dippy Duckers" if you are in the UK). If you are performing in someone's living room it is a different story. The bar crowd will never hear you and could care less but having some control over your performance area can be to your advantage.

If you have followed this series you have read and seen how even very mundane props can be "dressed" to fit the role you have intended them to play in your story. The lesson today will cover still another aspect of what many will call "eye candy".

My first example has to do with close up mats. The commercial version will work in most situations but what if you used a thick piece of soft leather on to which you have inscribes cabalistic signs and spells your presentation is enhanced immediately. Fig 1.

A simple zodiac layout would be very nice. If leather is unavailable even a large chamois skin from the auto parts shop can be dressed nicely for this work. If you include four votive candles at the cardinal points of the compass you have established a stage area ready for your performance.




If you are working with coins and your story is about pirates on the Spanish Main, why not use pieces of eight and take them out of a Spanish Treasure box and do your routine by exotic candlelight. These coins are available as museum replicas as are doubloons etc. Fig. 2.




A presentation that I do involves  the recorded sounds of a Pan Pipe and to help set the mood I first introduce the god Pan in the form of a statue about 18 inches tall. It is covered with a cloth as the story begins and as  justified by the story, the introduction  is made and the statue is unveiled. fig.3.




Another story is built around one of the legends connected with Edgar Allen Poe and a stuffed raven sitting in a unusual vase gives reminder of the famous, "Quote the Raven, Nevermore." Another  interesting picture, fig 4.




I would call your attention to one picture (fig.5.)which shows a salt and rust encrusted telegraphy key. this prop was prepared for a story in which the telegraphers key plays a central role. I was an actual practice unit that I found in a flea market. It was submerged in a bowl in a super-saturated salt solution. Back in the thirties folks made salt sculptures by placing object is a shallow bowl of salt water and the evaporation process would deposit the salt on what ever object was placed in the bowl. A bit of food coloring added to the salt water made for interesting  objects of quasi art.  Any way the Telegraph key took on the multiple layers of salt and began to corrode and rust under the salt. With the addition of  a few small sea shells and a sandy looking base, this prop took shape and proved to be exactly what was needed for the story for which it was produced. fig 5.

Undoubtedly some will remember doing little projects like this. Growing rock candy crystals in a solution of sugar, growing your own sweet potato plants or avocado seed in a glass of water, carrot tops that were kept alive  in a bowl of rocks and changing the color of flowers by osmosis.  Childhood memories have served me well in my quest for developing just the right prop for the right story.



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All the material in this lecture is copyrighted with all rights reserved to Ed Solomon, 2002.