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USITT’s hands-on Professional Development Workshops, led by skilled practitioners, are well-known for providing an outstanding level of expertise to those who attend. Shown are participants in the Painting with Pneumatic Sprayers at the Alley Theatre: Style and Technique.

Photo/Tom Thatcher


Pre-Conference Workshop to Feature Advance Model Making

Mark Wethington
Co-Chair, Professional Development Workshop

Paul Shortt, along with fellow master model makers and designers Tom Umfrid and Brian Ruggaber, will present a Professional Development Workshop (PDW) at the 49th annual Conference & Stage Expo in Cincinnati. Advanced Model-Making: Beyond Elmer’s and Foam-core will explore advanced modeling techniques that will take models to the next level. Beyond Elmers and Foam-core is an advanced master class and is intended for the professional scenic designer and charge artist.

Demonstrations and hands-on experience will help the participant with some of modeling’s trickier problems. Topics to be covered include: using the model as a sketching tool, sculpting, modeling natural elements, soldering, and using brass.  Also discussed will be tips for photographing models and manipulating them in Photoshop to create a communication tool for directors and designers.

Mr. Shortt grew up in Michigan and enrolled at the University of Michigan in the early 1960s. He started in industrial engineering but, after seeing a display of theatrical models on campus, he became intrigued and quickly started to design for the university plays. After graduating, he went on to get his masters degree in scenic design from Yale School of Drama. Mr. Shortt went on to co-find the Theatre Design and Production program at the College Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati and is now professor emeritus. He has designed for Cincinnati Playhouse, Opera and Ballet as well as for the Asolo Theatre among many others. Using the model as a “sketching” tool is one of the methods Paul uses while designing and he will be discussing this unique approach to design in this day long PDW .

Mr. Umfrid is the senior resident scenic designer at the University of Cincinnati, College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) where he has been for 19 years. He has designed regionally with Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Utah Shakespearean Festival and internationally with London’s Royal College of Music and the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts. He will be discussing his techniques of using rough “experimental” models in conjunction with digital photography, Photoshop and traditional mixed media to communicate with the director and design team.

Mr. Ruggaber is an assistant professor of scenic design at CCM. He has designed for The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, Bristol Riverside Theatre, and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte among others. He  will be leading the PDW participants in the use of brass in models including soldering techniques.

This will be an all day workshop in which the participants will explore an amazing array of techniques for the designer and come away with a wealth of knowledge to apply to their next design projects.  To sign up for the session, include it with any Conference registration, or sign up electronically at

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