Artist Corner – The Magic of Props! – Christopher Sutton

‘Model temple’ made using ‘acrylic and ‘styrene’ on the laser cutter

From a young age I have always been fascinated by the practical effects seen in film and television, their lifelike appeal often seems to add depth and realism to any production, whilst allowing artists a chance to express their creativity in very unconventional and fulfilling ways.

These can vary from hand props such as the ‘sonic screwdrivers’ seen in ‘Doctor Who’ to lifelike creatures or model cityscapes seen an any number of genres. Throughout all my years studying art and design at school and college I was known for always tailoring my projects towards prop making, in the hope of one day studying at university and go on to work in the industry.

Full size model of ‘Yoda’ from ‘Star Wars’

I have recently graduated with a First Class Hons degree in Prop Making and Special Effects from Brighton Metropolitan College and now wish to progress further and meet my long running ambition. I class myself as a ‘generalist prop maker’, this means that I try to cover a wide range of projects in order to become well rounded and feel comfortable working in many different materials to best suit any given task.

Whilst on my degree it was always my mission to become acquainted with new tools, machinery and materials in the hopes that when any particular project arose, I could draw on this mental catalogue to find the most effective and cost efficient way to meet the desired end product. Jumping in at the deep end on my degree projects was often difficult at first as the end result would be set in stone and I would be tasked with finding the best way to get there within a set time frame. This became easier and easier as these builds would give me more confidence in my working methods.

Tom Baker’s Sonic Screwdriver

At the end of my second year studying, along with many exciting projects, I built a deep sea diving helmet inspired by Jules Vernes’ ‘20,000 Leagues Under the Sea’. This being a favorite novel of mine it was a very fulfilling project to undertake. I made the helmet using a range of processes and materials including laser cutting and lathe work; the end result was largely composed of fibreglass which has inherent strength and can be made to take a high finish. Being a fan of ‘Doctor Who’ I chose to make a replica of what could be my all time favorite prop, Tom Bakers’ ‘sonic screwdriver. This presented all kinds of problems including learning how to machine metal parts on a ‘machine lathe’ and adhering to screen accuracy. I enjoyed the project greatly and went on to design and make my own incarnation of this iconic device.

My latest project was making a full size model of ‘Yoda’ from ‘Star Wars’. For this project I used the most processes I have worked with to date including sculpting, silicone/plaster casting, latex/resin moulding, hair punching, leather and costume work etc. Since this project had to capture the essence of a character the pressure was truly on once more, but I thoroughly enjoyed developing my skills and adding a more sculptural piece to my portfolio.

A life size replica Deep sea diving helmet and suit inspired by Jules Vernes’ ‘20,000 Leagues Under the Sea’

In doing this work my ultimate goal is to continue to progress into the props industry and work on current film and television projects. I am also keen to take on all kinds of private commissions which might include replica display pieces or custom designed items. I hope to rely upon my existing knowledge to take on a number of builds in the hopes of developing my skills and continuing to learn more along the way.

For more information contact Christopher here:


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