Tuesday, November 29, 2011

From the "How'd You Do That?!" Files

Photo by Ewa Skowska
We caught up with Misha Schmiedecke, the Props Designer from Dashing Through the Snow to ask about that incredible plate of chili cheese fries that Raynerd brings out in the last scene.  As a devoted connoisseur of all things chili, cheese, and fried, we thought this plate looked good enough to eat.

ACT: So Misha - How did you do that?!

Misha: I have designed the props for three plays in a row since Honky Tonk Angels.  But with all the plays I've done, this is my first time making fake food.

ACT: What materials did you use?

Misha: I had an idea of what I wanted it to look like but I was stumped about what material to use for fries until I read somewhere online about memory foam.  It worked perfect.  It was cheap and easy to cut.  I angled the edges and cut them all different lengths and arranged the fries on the plate using glue to hold them down so I could spray paint the whole thing.  The top of the mound and the inside of the mound are big blocks of foam to fill the space.

ACT: Are those real beans?

Photo by Ewa Skowska
Misha: Yes! Dried kidney beans! The chili was totally improvised. I bought a can of Hormel chili as inspiration and I pretty much tried to replicate the look from that.  I thought glue and paint would be the way to go, and then I added dry rice and dry kidney beans for texture.  Two failed mixings of glue and paint later, I finally got the right color and consistency.  I spooned on the mixture to the top and then strategically spooned it so it looked like it was flowing down the fries.  My husband shook his head at me when he found me studying the mound of chili and fries and saw that I was hand placing kidney beans and grains of rice.  He asked "How far away is the audience?"  I told him about 15 feet from the first row.  Then he asked "How long are the fries going to be on stage?"  I said, ".....about 30 seconds."  He proceeded to tell me that no one was going to notice my extra kidney bean placement. But I couldn't help myself.  I wanted them to look as real as possible!

ACT: And the cheese?

Misha:  I started with paint and glue again but that didn't really work.  It kept disappearing and being soaked up by the chili and the foam.  I wanted it to be really cheesy looking and it was coming out almost clear.  After the first layer dried I mixed up just paint (no glue) to match the color and touched it up by hand.  It needed about 4 or 5 more touch ups before the cheese color was saturated enough.  Spray gloss finished the whole thing off.

ACT: I don't know that I want to eat this anymore.

Misha: No, but as Raynerd would say, "BEHOLD! I bring you tidings of great joy!  The chili cheese fries are done!"

ACT: Are you a chili cheese fry lover?

Misha: I tend to hold the chili - but there's nothing like nacho cheese!  It's one of my favorite food groups.  Goes good on ANYTHING!!


  1. Wow--What Dedication Misha! Having seen the play, Reynerd's entrance with the fries was one of my favorites!

  2. That is AWESOME! That picture looks too good to be fake. You should work for McDonalds, most of their menu pictures look WAY better than what you get.