Interview: Prop Artist and Sculptor Tim Baker

Can you imagine being able to replicate all the amazing props from your favorite shows, films, and books? Besides saving you all the cash you’d end up spending on them, you’d get reproductions like no one else has. Sculptor and specialty prop maker Tim Baker does just that. When he’s not making props for shows like Castle, Entourage, the web series The LXD or working on his sculpted graphic novel, he’s making fun replicas.

The Crysknife from Dune is one of these replicas. It was a gift for a family member. Yes, he just gives this stuff away!

Every creation is drool-worthy, and they are one of a kind. Since they’re not mass manufactured, every one has a slightly different touch. He can make anything. Really. He has years of sculpting and mold making experience. More importantly, he has a can-do attitude. Yes, I just used the words can-do. I apologize for that, but they fit! He once committed to a stop motion animation job even though he had no actual experience doing it. He figured it out though, and the job went so well that he’s continued working in the medium.

I got him to step away from his piece for the upcoming Spectrum Fantastic Art deadline to answer some questions.

NA: What’s the weirdest prop you’ve made?
Tim: That’s a tough question. It seems the kind of things people need me to make are always strange. One of most unusual would be a talking, singing, smoking, and fire-shooting Delco radio for a car. I cast a real one and made a puppet version that I puppeteered and voiced.

NA: It seems like you can make anything. Where have you learned all your tips and tricks?
Tim: I tell people that I can make anything as kind of a joke but it’s also ended up being true so far. I have been making things since I was a little kid. I studied all kinds of media and processes in college and then spent years in theatres all over the country. I think I’ve just been using these things for so long that I’ve made all the mistakes you can and figured out lots of ways to fix those problems.

NA: Who has had artistic influence on you?
Tim: The first would have to be Dick Smith. He’s an incredibly talented makeup artist and one of my teachers. I read all I could about his work and that’s where my love of Special Effects came from. Since then, other artists like Andy Goldsworthy, Brian Froud, and even Rothko have been very inspirational.

NA: What’s your process like for designing and making something like the Crysknife?
Tim: It’s pretty straightforward. First I try and gather as much reference material as possible. Then I work out the best materials to make whatever it is. With a simple project like the Crysknife I went for the things I have been using the longest and know the best. Since I was only making one I didn’t bother making molds or sculpts, instead I carved the shape from the final resin material. I did the shaping with grinding and carving and added detail with epoxy putty. The paint job is an exaggerated bone look.

NA: Do you take commissions or sell any of your work?
Tim: I do sometimes, it depends on how busy I am. I just look for interesting projects. People don’t usually have any idea of the number of hours or material costs involved but if they want it bad enough, I’ll make anything.

He does plan to open an Etsy store to sell his steampunk watch designs in the near future.

Don’t forget to spend some time browsing through his gallery on deviantART. I promise you’ll find something there that makes you say, “Whoa!”


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