Fish Scales – The Making of the Tempest, Part III

Frances Kaplan tries the technique on her arm.

It’s 2:45 on Tuesday afternoon. Erin Galligan-Baldwin’s office, which doubles as the costume workshop, buzzes with activity. The air smells of popcorn and everyone is clustered around a table so cluttered there’s no clear space between the fabrics and knick-knacks. The costumers, several of whom double as the makeup crew, chatter away while sewing or sketching or gluing.

The results!

Two costumers, Anna Van Ness and Frances Kaplan, are wrapping pieces of orange industrial netting around their arms, then dusting the area with makeup. When they peel the netting away, it looks like they have fish scales.

“It was something we’d all seen on the internet,” Anna Van Ness explains. They plan to use the technique on the character of Caliban, played by actor Orlando Grant.


The idea came from the script, in which Caliban is described as “A strange fish!” Van Ness said, and also “because he’s kind of a weird monster.” The rest of his costume also has sea-based elements, such as a fishing net. The costumers may also use the scales on the character of Ariel.

The costumers use the mesh from orange boxes to make the scale pattern.

The technique uses a powdered makeup, in this case a bronzer, to create the pattern, with the netting as an outline. They will also have to use a transparent setting powder to prevent the pattern from smudging. They tried many different sizes of netting before they found one that looked enough like scales.


“I’m super excited about the how integrated the makeup is with the costumes for this show,” said director Erin Galligan-Baldwin. $180 worth of makeup and effects are going to be used for the show.

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