Today, I’ll share with you my revelation for the week–I am an educator. That's right, I like to educate people. I don’t have a burning desire to instruct in the classroom every day, yet I frequently work with children and teens to guide them along a creative/technical/spiritual path. I find something that interests me about art and design and try to pass on that info to others.
This year I developed a Set Design Workshop to teach high school students about designing for the stage. Do you know a high school theater department who would like to have me present this 4 week course to their tech class? Let me know here.
Of course, I usually find that what I’m interested in is history, how design decisions are made and styles influenced through the eras. After all, set designers are supposed to recognize historical and visual trends across hundreds of years, and then be able to defend it when used as part of a concept. My love of history and art keeps me interested in my craft. And the love of my craft makes me want to tell others. I guess I'll just have to own this educator thing.
Speaking of design history, I recently went on a historic homes tour at the Haas-Lilienthal House in San Francisco. It’s a beautiful old Victorian home in Pacific Heights. I learned that when they were renovating the house in the 1970s they had a lot of trouble finding craftsman to restore the interior woodwork. Apparently, in the late 1800’s middle class people would pay to have one piece in a room made from a particular wood, i.e. Golden Oak, and then have a painter replicate the wood grain for the rest of the room. That saved tons of money for modest budgets. A century later, the craft of replicating wood finishes was lost. Has it been found again?
Later that day, when we went on a walking tour of the Pacific Heights mansions with docent John Nockles, he mentioned price tags for early 20th century mansions were in the million-dollar range. Why? Those owners could afford to make an entire room out of expensive woods. The price went way up when building a ballroom of mahogany or a dining room of oak. The Flood and the Spreckels mansions both feature these beautiful but pricey interiors.
I'm so glad I went on those home tours as they inspired recent set designs for Mary Poppins. Do you have a favorite historical area you'd recommend?