The Bakehouse Factory
Winter Wonderland with Paddington
The Bakehouse Factory is a multi-award-winning theatrical production company specialising in creating immersive and interactive events. They are based in Bristol and cater a wide range of events.
I joined the bakehouse team working on props and scenic during their Christmas rush period to work mainly on a Paddington themed Santa’s grotto for Bristols Cribbs Causeway Mall, as well as a combination of Halloween and Christmas events.
The layout of the grotto started in Paddington’s street before going on the roof and sliding into the Brown’s house, where you can see into the kitchen were Paddington is in the middle making marmalade. Before the family is led through the passages to meet one of three Santas, in one of three identical Santa rooms.
For the rooftop, I was tasked with painting the slate roof finishes, the brick walls and Paddington’s window. As well as set dressing and touch up during installation and paint calls.
Most of the props and set dressing happened in the kitchen and the Santa rooms.
In the kitchen, I painted a second hand metal table to have a wooden top, refurbished and painted a vintage dresser and painted the MDF drawers to blend in. As well as painting the room itself.
For the set dressing, we bought hundreds of fake oranges that then had to be sprayed to look more realistic and made into piles and Christmas ornaments to be strewn around the place. Additionally, we made a lot of fake marmalade and marmalade sandwiches.
A large part of the project I worked on was the staircase and hallway mural where the children first meet Paddington.
The staircase was made out of MDF and plywood so had to be painted to look like stained hardwood, which was created using layers of glaze and paint and a wood grain rocker.
The mural was painted after prepping the walls and a lot of filling and sanding to get the curved look. We created stamps to quickly and efficiently get the flower pattern.
I worked to create a series of penguin and reindeer masks to be added to the costume store to be used in a wide range of performances around the Christmas period.
The masks were all made from pattern-cut foam and fabric. All the fabric was picked to match the outfit the performer would be wearing. All the masks were attached to caps to allow them to be used by multiple performers.
While at Bakehouse, I also assisted in the set up and performer based side of things. Creating set dressings for multiple Halloween setups. This one, in particular, was a pumpkin carving workshop over the Halloween weekend, where I set up the pumpkin stand and dressed it with flowers and straw, then helped the children carve their pumpkins.
The set for MotorTown was Prominade, with the audience walking around a concrete and brick estate, because of this we ended up having to create a lot of concrete and asphalt in different textures and states of wear. That would be seen from very close up by audience members.
Asphalt was made by texturing MDF with a Vermiculite and Bonding coat mix before being painted and glazed.
Concrete tiles were created using MDF cut squares with cracks added at random with a hand-held router cutter. Then textured with plaster and a bonding coat and finished with a mixture of paint washes and dry brushing.
In paint calls small details such as moss between cracks and cigarette buts were added.
A Brick wall created with a CNC’d MDF base covered with a Plaster and Idenden Mixture applied carefully to maintain the brick shape. Finished with washes of colour to create a worn brick wall.
The design for ‘Dance Nation’ consisted of six white boxes some containing small sets inside but all of them required filling, sanding, and numerous coats of white paint and gloss glaze to get the wanted image.
Two scenes happen inside of the white boxes in washrooms, a family bathroom and the toilet in the dance studio.
Both were designed with tiles, so a large part of my work as a scenic was working out how we could do this. In the end we used CNC’d MDF. We then painted and repeatedly glazed with high quality gloss glaze before covering all over with Idenden bondent and then wiping away to only leave the grout lines – just as you would on a real tile.
The Blue bathroom also had wall decals which were sourced images printed onto tissue paper, carefully cut out and then pasted onto the tiles with gloss glaze.
Wonder of the World
The set for Wonder had a ‘wiggly’ background made of individual MDF panels forced into shape. My main job was spraying the whole background white and black gradients with a spray gun.
Tartuffe is the most realistic set I’ve worked on with the whole set being a clear 4th wall view into a living room. From a scenic point most of the work was covering all the walls and ceiling with lining paper before painting and adding finishing coats of paint to doors and skirting boards.
In November of 2019 I worked as a scenic at Sherborne Girls School on their showcase of Tristan and Yseult. Although I was originally going in by myself to finish off the set, a handful of students showed an interest in scenic art and I ended up leading a team of 5-6 students through creating their own simple set through priming, painting and weather 8 A1 PVC vacuum-formed stone wall pieces.
I entered the project after the stone walls had been purchased and then sourced the necessary materials on a very restrictive budget and timeframe.
Although I was only there for a weekend and spent a lot of the time also supervising the work the students were doing, we did manage to dress the whole set and hopefully get some of the students interested in scenic arts.