by Rebecca Potts
As we near the finale of the best month of the year, a lot of us can’t help but feel a little deflated. Things are a lot…different this year, and tragically, Halloween will not be untouched by the chaos going on around us. Some of us might not feel comfortable going out, or we’re just looking for a new project, so it’s time to get creative at home. Propmaker Kimberly Houston from Reedley knows how to do exactly that. Kim creates props for theatre companies, horror movies, and anyone and everyone looking for props. She molds, carves, and paints materials to create the perfect props for her clients, from puppets, to weapons, and even an electric chair! I sat down with her to talk about her work and get some ideas on how to make this Halloween special, exciting, and safe.
KRL: How did you get into propmaking?
KH: I started through cosplaying in 2014. I use to be really into it! Eventually, I found myself in the Selma Arts Center production of Shrek the Musical, and I ended up using some of my crafting skills to build the character ‘Dragon’ for the show. Soon, I was working on another show and then another. Selma Arts Center has been an incredible place to be involved with and I really appreciate the opportunities they’ve given me.
KRL: What’s the most exciting thing about your job?
KH: The fact that each project is different. Each one offers a new set of challenges, even if it’s something I’ve built previously. I may figure out a different method for building it that makes it more sturdy or enhances the end result in some way. It’s also a very satisfying feeling to see folks react to my work. When I deliver the final product and people have big smiles and are excited over something I made, it just makes my day. Any way I can bring some form of happiness to others is gratifying.
KRL: Do you have a favorite piece that you’ve made or a favorite project you’ve worked on?
KH: My first ‘Audrey II’ puppet for the show Little Shop of Horrors is one. It led to me meeting puppeteer and director Brian Henson, who was so kind to tell me I was “good at this”—something I never thought would happen! I also made talking animal heads for Selma’s production of A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, and I honestly love any chance I get to build puppets. As far as projects, I absolutely LOVED working on Puffs. It was the best show to work on as a propmaker!
KRL: Where can we see your work?
KH: I was the scenic designer and properties manager for the film Dead Voices, which is currently on Amazon for viewing. I set up pretty much every room they filmed in, and I was responsible for the props.
There’s also another flick called Last American Horror Show Vol. 2, coming out soon. I’m not sure of the release date, but I built the jail cell and electric chair in that one.
KRL: What are you working on now and what’s coming next?
KH: Right now, I’m just working on personal projects. Sadly, work has been slow with Covid, but that’s okay. I’m using this time to bond more with my family, but I’m also working on new techniques that I can hopefully utilize in future projects. I am currently building a new ‘Audrey II,’ but I’m also working on creating a horror web series. I’m writing some scripts and building props for the scenes I want to film, and utilizing my time the best I can.
KRL: Would you share a DIY idea for people at home who want to celebrate Halloween in a safe way this year with their kids or on their own?
KH: Sure! Here are two easy projects you can do at home:
Garbage Bag Bodies
2-3 large garbage bags
Recyclables, newspaper, old clothes, shoes, items for filling bags
Stuff items into each bag (head size, body size, and two leg sizes) and connect by overlapping bags together. Duct tape together. Then shape bag into a body shape and duct tape to secure. Place in front yard or wherever you’d like!
Empty cardboard boxes. Preferably thin cardboard like what’s used in cereal boxes. Cardstock is also available at the Dollar Store.
Cut cardboard into strips or in the shapes you need for your mask. Connect with glue/hot glue. Once you have your base, cover with maché at the thickness you’re looking for and let dry.
Once dry, paint the colors you’d like. Enjoy!
Check out more local theatre reviews & articles in our Arts & Entertainment section!
If you love local theatre, be sure to check out our new Mysteryrat’s Maze Podcast, which features mysteries read by local actors (some of whom you have seen on the Selma Arts Center stage). You can check the podcast out on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Google Podcasts, and also on podbean.