Here’s a list of resources I’ve been using in my design work for years: vendors, web sites, catalogs, trade magazines, and similar items. The list is by no means complete, and I’ll continue adding to the list as I run across items again and time permits. You can also check the SD&T Book Store for books on design and technical theatre.
- Stage Directions Magazine, which is free – www.stage-directions.com
- Projection, Lights, & Staging News (also free) – www.plsn.com
- Theatre Design and Technology, the USITT journal – www.usitt.org
- Lighting and Sound America, which is free too – www.lightingandsoundamerica.com
- Sightline, the journal of theatre technology and design (a British publication) – www.etnow.com
- RoseBrand. This company is a major supplier of fabrics and materials for the entertainment industry – www.rosebrand.com
- Rosco. Another major supplier and manufacturer of equipment, tools, paints, and other products – www.rosco.com
- JR Clancy. In business since 1885, this company specializes in theatrical rigging applications. Their web site has lots of material and information on rigging and a downloadable catalog – www.jrclancy.com
- BMI Supply. Another major supplier of theatrical equipment – www.bmisupply.com
- Mutual Hardware, in business since 1935, is a standard source of tools and supplies for the entertainment industry – http://www.mutualhardware.com
- MainStage Theatrical Supply is a source for products in many aspects of theatre, including lighting, makeup, paint, and rigging – https://www.mainstage.com
- Dazian, which has been in business since 1842, is a provider of fabrics, drops, and other products for the entertainment industry. https://www.dazian.com/home.aspx
Tools, equipment, and hardware suppliers
- The Grainger catalog, which has over 900,000 industrial products and is a great source for information.
- The McMaster-Carr catalog. This company is another huge supplier of industrial equipment and tools, and a great resource.
- LeeValley is a good source of woodworking tools, supplies and hardware. They have two catalogs: one for tools and equipment, and the other for cabinet hardware.
- Garrett-Wade has a large selection of general tools, including some items I haven’t seen anywhere else.
- VanDyke’s Restorers provides period hardware, parts, and supplies for restoring antiques. Some interesting finds here too.
- Micro-Mark primarily specializes in miniature tools and supplies for model makers, but they also have lots of items that are useful elsewhere. I used their selection of small-town buildings made for model railroad layouts as part of my research for The Music Man.
- Grizzly Industrial has a huge catalog of power and hand tools and supplies for the woodworking and metalworking industries. The catalog also has a really cool section on guitar-making tools and supplies.
- Harbor Freight is a supplier of low-cost hand and power tools and often has good sales on its products. They have retail stores all over the country.
- Rockler is a great source for high-end power and hand tools, specialty hardware, and supplies. They also have retail stores.
- Woodcraft is another great source of high-end tools and supplies, and also has retail stores.
- Outwater Plastics Industries has a huge architectural products catalog, which includes moldings, columns, specialty hardware, and lots more.
Books and magazines
- The Dover Publications catalog has lots of art history, costume history, architecture, furniture, details, graphic design, and related subjects. This company is an invaluable resource for research on many theatrical, historical, and related subjects.
- The Taunton Press not only publishes Fine Woodworking and Fine Homebuilding magazines, but also has a huge selection of books on box making, finishing, how to use hand and power tools, jigs, and similar subjects. I’ve seen a number of their books at local bookstores.
- Arcadia Publishing is fantastic for local research. They publish a huge selection of books (very heavy on period photos) on subjects such as town histories, theatres, buildings, factories, lighthouses, and so on.
- Woodsmith, Shop Notes, and Popular Woodworking are all excellent reads on projects, shop techniques, tips, tools, shop safety, and many other subjects. They are among my favorite magazines.
- And, of course, there’s the SD&T Book Store right here on the blog: my selection of books on set design, construction, architectural and design styles, and other useful subjects.
Drafting and sketching
- SketchUp and LayOut, my primary design tools nowadays. Although primarily a 3D design tool, it also works very well in 2D and is very easy to learn. You can download the free version of SketchUp (PC and Mac) directly from their site.
- AutoCAD is one of the most widely-used drafting programs, and the company offers a number of additional solutions for the industry. Personally, I’ve been using AutoCAD LT for many years (it’s a scaled-down and less expensive version of AutoCAD) and find that it has everything I need – and more.
- VectorWorks is another widely-used design and drafting program which has become very popular in the entertainment industry. The company offers several versions, including one for lighting design.
- There are also several free CAD programs available, which you can find by doing a web search for “free cad.” I haven’t tried any of these, so I can’t comment on them.
- Interactive Educational Video offers a line of DVD courses on technical theatre, set construction, lighting, stage management, and other subjects.
- The United States Institute for Theatre Technology (USITT) provides a variety of resources and educational opportunities in technical theatre.
- The University Resident Theatre Association (URTA) is dedicated to enhancing and supporting professional-level education in all aspects of theatre. Their yearly regional auditions provide a place for prospective graduate students to meet reps from schools all over the country.
- The Power Tool Institute has a variety of materials on tool safety, including publications, videos, and lesson plans.
- Theatrecrafts.com is a British web site dedicated to technical theatre topics such as shows, venues, glossaries, archives, and other helpful information. They also have links to theatre books found on Amazon.co.uk, some of which I haven’t seen here.
- Techiegreenroom.com is a web site in which to “Learn, commiserate, and celebrate the joys of technical theater amongst the middle and high school theater community.” It includes a blog with how-to’s on various topics, a forum, a resource page, and a sales/rentals page.
- The Guild of Scenic Artists is an online community for scenic artists to “find opportunities for professional development, new product knowledge, and help with other industry challenges.” They have a forum for members, a wiki section on tools and techniques, and career aids such as a jobs page and a listing of workshops and other educational opportunities.
- Cobalt Studios, in White Lake, NY, is a full-service scenic painting studio that also offers specialized training in scenic painting. They have a two-year scenic artist program, as well as specialty pro seminars, a Summer program, and a training course specially for teachers.