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Afternoon Tea Set 1912's


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My Fair Lady production requires an afternoon tea set for Mrs Higgins' Conservatory in Act 2.  There are plenty of china tea sets around, but they are china, i.e. a problem for being on stage.  Plastic tea sets all seem to be for children's play time!

We used to cover breakable items in clear plastic tape, but this looks terrible.

Was wondering if:

  1. There is a better way to wrap breakable items for the stage, i.e. is there a new product that you can spray and coat that is good enough for reducing the risk of breakages, OR
  2. Anyone recommend a place where I can buy or hire proper good looking 1912 tea sets that are plastic

Thank you for your help and input.

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Agree with Kerry. Unless your cast are especially butterfingered/ prone to chucking their crockery around, ask them to take care.  If there's a butler or footman character, equip them with an approriate looking dustpan, and get the ASM ready to shove them on stage if it should become necessary. Or dress the ASM as a footman. 

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If you can find one in bone china, it will be much stronger than normal china and less likely to break if dropped, although it might chip. Almost any charity shop/car boot/ antiques shop will have a choice. 

The other option, is to put a suitable rug down where the china is likely to be knocked so it has a soft landing. The problem with melamine ones is they do not 'sound right', and the chink of a cup meeting the saucer, is part of the atmosphere. (NB: The sound can be sucessfully mic'd with a carefully placed boundary or lavaliere if its a big venue. 

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Charity shops/ bigger ex retail sheds used by charities as shops have tons of “brown furniture” and nick-nacs as pretty much nobody under 70 values them.

My Mum had several tea sets that came out for special events but everyone I know uses mugs. (Even if Elvis appeared)

Buying excess stock is probably cheaper than protecting the correct number of cups. Just suck up a few breakages.

Bear in mind that the stage will be 20 feet away from the front row (ish) 

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As others have said, it might be worth accepting the risks of breakage. (In the event that breakage occurs, clear up the bits AT THE TIME as earlier described, and thoroughly vacuum clean the area before the next performance)

If however further protection against against  breakage is considered essential, then this may be achieved as follows. Coat one side of the article in Copydex or similar flexible adhesive. Before the adhesive dries, affix a suitably sized piece of mesh or scrim, then brush another layer of adhesive over the scrim.

Do this on the least seen surface of the article, probably the inside of cups and the underside of saucers or plates. The articles can still be broken, but the pieces remain attached to each other, with minimum risk of sharp pieces scattering.


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