Well, the time has come to extinguish the flame, to put down the flag and to return to watching normal TV .. that is until the Paralympics start on the 7th March. I waved goodbye to Sochi in the middle of January, but today I am waving goodbye again as the Olympic coverage finishes. I knew a little of what was in the Closing Ceremony having seen many set pieces being built whilst I was there, but I thought I would publish some pictures of the loveliest items that I saw in the ceremony .. and of course some that I had a hand in building. I think the majority of my time in Sochi was spent working on a massive Chandelier, it was initially meant to be included in the Opening Ceremony, but for reasons far too complicated for me to explain, it was cut and moved to the Closing Ceremony.
I started work on the Chandelier soon after we arrived in Sochi in November 2013. The first part of the chandelier to be completed was the ‘Wedding Cake’ the top section of the chandelier or rows 17 to 13. It looked more like a Dalek than a wedding cake to me .. but Wedding Cake was it’s nickname.
These beads in this section are only 13mm wide and inside each one is a tiny piece of silver mylar. The beads themselves came in two halves and had to be stuck together with tweezers and super glue … in sub zero conditions whilst wearing thermal gloves. There are 56 steel wires in this section of the chandelier, each with 25 beads … that’s 1,400 beads all individually stuck and all with individually cut pieces of mylar. It took a while to do.
Once the Wedding Cake was completed the next task was to check and mend the many, many strings of beads which had already been made in Birmingham and shipped out to Sochi. There were 20 different sizes of beads on the remainder of the chandelier and whilst the patterns for the bead strings weren’t complicated, they did take a bit of thought and concentration to understand. As a prop maker you get used to doing repetitive work, five hundred of the same thing is a regular request in my line of work and I think people with that sort of logical, mathematical mind are suited to the job. The people who made the bead strings weren’t prop makers, and some of the strings they made didn’t follow any pattern and had to be remade. to further complicate matters this next set of strings were on elasticated rope, making measuring the exact position of the beads even more complicated. The quality of finish wasn’t great either and so all of the pre made strings had to be cleaned to remove super glue residue. With the help of the on site scenic painters .. work began again.
When I returned after Christmas a good amount of the lower levels had been built and the lovely scenic painters had completed the bead clean and correct on rows 12 to 2. Still to complete was the painting of all the black wires to be gold, the clean and correct of the beads on row 2 and row 0, and whole heap of electrical stuff that is a bit beyond my understanding. I just make things look pretty. Talking of which these beautiful chairs never made it to the show. They are on the orchestra level, which needless to say was meant to house a small orchestra, unfortunately they also got cut and the chandelier appears in the show without anyone on it.
Here is the Chandy, as it became known, whilst it was being testing in the North hanger. That tiny bit at the top .. that’s the wedding cake. Also in this shot are the bead stings for the R2 level and a few of the R12-R2 beads which were hung to see if they got crushed when the chandelier opened and closed. This also shows the open Orchestra level section.
Here is the Chandy on the move … from the North hanger back to the barn when it was cut from the opening ceremony and moved to the closing. The beads from the very bottom level are missing from this photo, I was in the process of hanging them when we were told the Chandy was moving and so they had to be taken off for safety. Unfortunately, I broke my ankle the day after this photo was taken and was subsequently excluded from the site on health and safety grounds, so I don’t have any more photos of the beautiful item being prepared of the show.
But here is the finished item during the show … Now, does anyone feel like guessing how many beads there are on this beast ?