Spotlight On: Brick in the Yard
Mitch Rogers is the owner of Brick in the Yard Mold Supply in Richardson, TX. The store features mold-making and casting supplies for prototyping, special effects, prop building and more. The store also offers classes on using their products. He’s featured on our gallery here.
Hot Wire Foam Factory: So I guess we need to know first – who is Mitch Rogers and how did you get started with Brick in the Yard?
Mitch Rogers: Rumor has it that Mitch is a 39 year old mold-maker. I first discovered the world of sculpture and special effects in the fall of 1989 when I got a job at a local magic/costume shop called Positively Magic and became fascinated with the art of special effects. I was a professional magician many moons ago but I saw much more fun to be had in the world of props and special effects.
Effects work and mold-making in general are like modern day alchemy. I really enjoy the combination of art and chemistry. As for Brick In The Yard Mold Supply, I started this shop in 2004. I had worked in the mold-making/special effects world for a few years at that point and found there was a need for a local supplier of exotic sculpture and FX materials here in the Dallas area.
The BITY store is located in Richardson on the northern edge of Dallas. I chose this location as it is ~1 mile from my house and when the weather is nice I like to walk to the shop.
HWFF: Have you always been a Texas resident?
MR: I was born in Louisiana but I moved here when I was 3. I have been a Texan ever since. Texas, aside from the heat, it a great place for the arts.
HWFF: I have heard that! So what kind of customer do you generally gear up for? Knowing your personality, they must be a passionate bunch!
MR: We have a crazy bunch of customers, most are like family to us. We sell supplies to everybody from the film industry to the medical industry and just about everything in between. Many of our film customers call with crazy deadlines and need very specific, very unique advice. That can be challenging but also fun and interesting.
HWFF: How do you help in the creation of customers’ projects?
MR: A lot of the materials we sell have a steep learning curve. Many of our customers come to us with ideas for projects but have never attempted mold-making. We consult with them to make that learning process as painless as possible and as cost-effective as possible. We also consult with a number of FX pros that encounter challenges that require a fresh perspective.
HWFF: Do you offer classes? Do you do any online consulting?
MR: We do offer classes.There are some techniques that, when seen live, make much more sense. Our lifecasting class, for instance, is a perfect example of a process that has to be witnessed in first person to really get the pacing and timing required to make that craft possible.
I teach some of the classes and we also bring in experts on various topics to teach classes on makeup fx techniques and patinas. I answer a lot of questions online. Everyday people send me pictures of things they want to mold and I try my best to bottle up my know how in an email.
HWFF: What kind of classes do you offer?
MR: We offer a Life casting Class that teaches the basic rules of molding the human form, we have a Silicone Makeup Class that explains basic techniques of silicone FX makeup, and we have a basic Mold-Making Class that covers the rubber molding and resin casting process. We also have two YouTube Channels that go over using many of our different products. Our newest YouTube Channel specializes in special effects and all that goes with the making of SPFX props and more. youtube.com/brickintheyard or youtube.com/bityspfx
HWFF: Do you find that offering classes builds a loyalty with your customers? Does it encourage a stronger customer-store relationship?
MR: Yes. Classes are also a great way for our customers to meet like-minded artists and forge creative and business relationships.
HWFF: What other things do you feel set you apart from other stores? Is it magic?
MR: Ha! No, not magic. I use my powers for good. Prop making, mold-making, and special effects work in general are very technically demanding. For our customers it is a huge time saver and convenience to order from someone who’s been “in the trenches” so to speak. My first love is the craft itself. If I won the lottery this week I would still be molding and casting props and sculpture. I think that mentality is contagious.
HWFF: Why do you think that foam cutting is becoming so popular with artists? Who do you find is using the tools?
MR: EPS foam is a great medium. We have been carrying the Hot Wire tools and materials for almost three years now and the tools have done wonders for that medium. Everyone from display companies to fine artists are using foam and Hot Wire tools. We have several local design and display companies that sculpt in EPS and then hard coat the finished pieces. We also have local artists working in EPS to create armatures for their clay sculptures and individuals using the tools and foam to make haunted house decor. EPS foam + Hot Wire tools have really opened up an entirely new avenue for artists including myself.
HWFF: Do you think that foam will ever be as popular as the other mediums?
MR: There are some things that can be made in foam that just can’t be done any other way. I believe foam carving is a unique tool in the sculptor’s “bag of tricks”. For some display pieces and sculptures there just isn’t a better way than foam carving/coating.
HWFF: What HWFF tool is your favorite and why?
MR: I like the Sculpting Tool, but my favorite is the uber awesome Industrial Hot Knife – the expensive one that looks like a hand-held death ray. Give me a 6 pack of Mountain Dew and a 4’x8′ sheet of 6″ EPS foam and I can make anything!
HWFF: What have you personally built with the tools?
MR: I have an 8 foot giant evil robot under construction but since that isn’t done my favorite is my anti-gravity machine. (It’s a very convincing prop that he used as a Halloween costume – check out the gallery page with the video showing how he made it here!)
HWFF: Do you have a few words of advice to leave with our readers?
MR: Learn every artistic technique you can! A true artist should be able to make art with anything!
HWFF: Especially EPS foam!
MR: Yes indeed! I now save every scap piece of foam packaging I can get my hands on.