A New Stage for Mr Brown’s Pig

Mr Brown’s Pig is the performance name of Chris Brown, a committed storyteller, puppeteer and musician. He has been an inspiration to me for many years now, and I was delighted when he asked me to remake the framework and playboard of his puppet stage.

The dimensions and hinged folding design were to remain the same so that he could continue to use it in the same manner as the previous one, but he wanted it to be constructed sturdily enough to last the next twenty years. As he transports it by strapping it to the roof rack of his car, it is clearly subjected to a fair amount of wear and tear, and this durability requirement needed suitable consideration.

It was my opinion that the original stage had become rickety because the wooden frame had only been butt jointed and screwed together, and there was a lack of sufficient bracing. Also, I noticed that the hinges that allowed it to fold up were not particularly robust.

The answer was straight forward; cut decent sized mitred braces to support every right angle join, and to cut a shallow mortice and tenon for every joint, before gluing and screwing them from the reverse side into place.

I sourced some lovely brass hinges, which although were slightly too wide, were easy enough to trim to size with an angle grinder.

The playboard on the original stage was made from laminated MDF which  unsurprisingly was looking pretty tatty. I chose to use a piece of locally grown hemlock. I let it sit in my workshop for a month or so and then cut it to size, planed it smooth and rounded the edges with a router. We wanted to darken it as much as possible so it’s finished with a dark oak coloured wax.

The result is a robust frame and shiny playboard that should stand the test of time, and allow Mr Brown’s Pig to continue performing his excellent puppet shows for many years to come.

Mist Coat Roller Arm

Check out the state of my arm, it looks like I’m turning into an abominable snowman. Fortunately, this was not the case. On this particular job, I have been helping a builder, whose name is Geoff, to modernise the previously rather ugly, concrete ceilings in a flat in Clifton.

I’ve never done anything like this before, and so found the process intersting. It’s fairly straight forward really;

Evenly spaced wooden battens are screwed to the ceiling into predrilled holes with rawl plugs in them. Then plasterboards are screwed to wooden battens. To hold the 2.4m by 1.2m boards in place while we attached them properly, we made 2 T shaped frames from some extra wooden battens that reached to the ceiling. After as many whole boards as possible were put up, we measured and cut the rest to fit the spaces left over. Once this was done in each room, and remembering to cut a hole in the plasterboard for the lights to be reconnected by an electrician, a webbed tape called scrim was stuck over all the places where the plasterboard met plasterboard and over any points there were small gaps in between the wall.

Geoff then plastered all the ceilings, which he does a fantastic job of! How he does it, I don’t know, but they end up shiney and blemish free and painting them is a breeze. The mist coat is emulsion paint mixed with water, (this is the reason so much liquid sprays of the roller!) I think the idea being that the fresh plaster and plasterboard soak up the watery mix and this helps to achieve a better finish when the next coat of emulsion goes on.

Anyway, after that we redecorated the whole of the flat, and are just going to finish off glossing the woodwork tomorrow. It’s going to look lovely.