There are few props that can help indicate the era or period setting of a stage play quite as well as vintage electronics. Of these, one of the most quintessential is the old-fashioned microphone. Real vintage microphones are valued antiques and generally too expensive and fragile to be used in a stage play. Instead, build your own vintage microphone using craft supplies for a fraction of the cost—one that's good enough to fool your audience into thinking you've managed to get ahold of the real thing.
Things You'll Need:
- Welding Epoxy
- Smooth Work Station
- Brass Spray Paint
- Fine-Tipped Paintbrush
- 1 Tbsp. Metal Ball Bearings
- 1 Cup Plus 2 Tbsp. Meltable Plastic Craft Beads
- Round Metal Light Bulb Stand
- Short Plumbing Pipe (8 To 12 Inches Long)
- Handheld Rotary Cutter Tool With Crevice Grinding Attachment
- Black Acrylic Paint
Melt 1 cup of plastic craft beads according to the instructions on the package.
Moisten your smooth work station with a layer of water to keep the plastic from sticking.
Form the soft plastic into the basic shape of the microphone head. Once the plastic is soft enough to handle, shape it into a ball. Then stuff the metal ball bearings into the center and close the ball shape around them. Shape the ball into a rectangular box by pressing the six sides against your work surface. Repeat this motion to refine the shape and to help keep the plastic in this form as it firms (it will droop a bit, initially). As it starts to turn opaque on the inside, round the outside edges to resemble the shape of a vintage microphone (use your photo as a guide for this). Continue refining the shape until the plastic is completely cooled and hardened.
Draw the lines for the grooves in the microphone's surface in pencil. Use your photo to reproduce the patterns of the slats in the microphone. There should be four groups of eight grooves on the sides of the microphone and two groups of six on each end. If necessary, stretch a piece of string across the plastic to help you draw straight lines. If you make mistakes, wipe the pencil away and try again.
Use a rotary cutter to grind out the grooves. Use either a grinder with a fine tip or a cutting wheel, but exercise caution with the latter as it is easy to accidentally cut grooves of drastically different depths (a little difference is okay, however). Aim to make the grooves about 1/8 inch deep.
Assemble the microphone's stand and mount it. Attach the plumbing pipe to the socket of the light bulb stand, which is a round, flat metal base with a light bulb socket in the middle and found in the lighting section of hardware stores. This will serve as the mic stand's base. Fasten the pipe using liberal amounts of welding epoxy (follow the instructions on the epoxy package); most likely, the pipe will be a loose fit unless you get lucky with the size, and the welding glue will compensate for this difference. Next, soften the remaining 2 tbsp. of plastic beads and use them to attach the microphone head to the top of the pipe, molding the two together.
Spray paint the microphone and stand with brass spray paint.
Paint the inside of the microphone grooves black using a fine-tipped paintbrush. Wipe away any paint that lands outside the grooves before it has a chance to dry.
- "The Theatre Props Handbook: A Comprehensive Guide to Theater Properties, Materials and Construction"; Thurston James; 2000
Lauren Vork has been a writer for 20 years, writing both fiction and nonfiction. Her work has appeared in "The Lovelorn" online magazine and thecvstore.net. Vork holds a bachelor's degree in music performance from St. Olaf College.