A West Virginia University professor noted for making magic has shared some of her secrets in a new book.

Mary McClung, the Mabel Devries Tanner Endowed Professor of Theatre in WVU’s College of Creative Arts, demystifies the secrets of foam as a building block for props, puppets, and costumes in her new book, “Foam Patterning and Construction Techniques: Turning 2D Designs into 3D Shapes,” by Focal Press.

According to McClung, who teaches costume design at WVU, the book “explains how to create your theatrical prop, puppet, or costume design using the unique and tricky medium of foam.”

It features step-by-step instructions, photographs, and explanations to illustrate how to translate designs from paper to reality.

“I got the idea for the book when I presented a lecture at a conference,” McClung said. “Some of the audience members said I should write a book on using foam, since there weren’t many resources available. I felt I could expand on the subject a bit more.”

She took a project-based approach and outlines six start-to-finish, step-by-step projects for puppets, masks and costumes.

“I find it helps me to see a beginning-to-end explanation of techniques and applications, and I wanted to show how to make different things with the same techniques,” she said.

While the book is aimed at beginning and intermediate crafters who are interested in making costume objects, McClung can see the book being used as a text as well. Colleagues at the recent United States Institute for Theatre Technology meeting apparently agreed, as they were lined up at WVU’s booth to meet the author and get her signature.

“Mary’s book is the culmination of her work that combines artistic vision, technical craft, and material science in the creation of exciting new creatures and characters for storytelling,” said Joshua Williamson, director of WVU’s School of Theatre and Dance.

She did the bulk of the work on a sabbatical during the spring of 2015, and also benefited greatly from the Mabel Devries Tanner Endowed Professorship.

“It’s a huge help for funding the kind of project-based research that I do, and I see my work benefitting greatly from that support,” McClung said.



CONTACT: David Welsh, WVU College of Creative Arts
304.293.3397; David.Welsh@mail.wvu.edu

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