Vegetation Creation for the Witch in “Into the Woods”: Part 1

By Rachel E. Pollock, Costume Crafts Artisan, PlayMakers Repertory Company

Rachel E. Pollock

We’re currently in production on our repertory shows this year, Into the Woods and Midsummer Night’s Dream. Today, I’ve got a behind-the-scene peek into one of the many cool special effects we’re doing in the costume crafts world to create these two huge, magical shows.

Our costume designer for Into the Woods is Bill Brewer, of UNC-School of the Arts. I’ve been aware of Bill’s work for years and met him many times at conferences and symposia, but we’d never worked together. Really excited to have the chance on this great show!

For his concept of the Witch’s first costume, he envisioned a dress covered with actual vegetation from her garden, in which Jack’s magic beans grow.

Costume design rendering by Bill Brewer

See those cabbages and twigs? That’s what today’s entry is about! Basically, we’re casting them in latex.

Here you see draper and craftsperson Denise Dietrich working on casts of several leaves. Our makeup designer, Caitlin Molloy, cast three actual leaves for us–a collard and two cabbages! We tint the liquid latex with acrylic paints, brush it into the molds in layers. We put in a layer of tulle for stability between coats 3 and 4, and when we peel them out, they look like real vegetable leaves! Then Denise can place them on the garment.

A collard cast ready for demolding. See the rectangle of white tulle in it?

We’re also making the twiggy trim along her skirt hem from latex. We paint it out in layers onto these ceramic tiles, then roll it up around strips of muslin into sticklike forms like you see above.

Pretty cool, eh?

To hear more from Rachel, check out her blog labricoleuse.livejournal.com

Come see Into the Woods and A Midsummer Night’s Dream at PlayMakers thru December 7. For tickets, call 919.962.PLAY (7529) or visit our website.