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Friday, August 20, 2010

Maggie Schpak and the Studio Art Metal Shop

Maggie Schpak is the proprietor of the Studio Art Metal Shop in Glendale, CA. Her contributions to Star Trek, and especially to Vulcan design, cannot be overestimated!
The Star Trek III: The Search For Spock Collector's DVD has a short interview with Maggie on Disc Two about her work for the Star Trek feature films.  If you haven't seen it, it's definitely worth a watch (especially for the rare close-up glimpses of some amazing Vulcan art).

Robert Fletcher hired Studio Metal Shop in 1979 to help with Star Trek: The Motion Picture. The relationship lasted throughout the features with Schpak and her partner creating unforgettable jewelry for Klingons, Vulcans and the Federation. In the DVD interview, Schpak says her most memorable Star Trek work was on Vulcan items. She created the elaborate breastplates for Sarek and the ceremonial guards on Mt. Seleya in ST III. These are truly works of art featuring cast resin "stones" and wonderful sculptural details. Here are some screencaps of the guards'  breastplates from the documentary (Note the blue stones; Schpak says it was decided that there were no blue stones on Vulcan so these were simply extra castings she used for her own memento).
Schpak also gives us a rare look at a ring created for Dame Judith Anderson in her role as T'Lar.  The design clearly echoes Mt. Seleya itself and some have noted that it is also reminiscent of the famous Vulcan hand gesture.
Finally, we see a rare resin "stone" created for a Vulcan necklace. Schpak affectionately refers to it as a "Spock Rock."  The colour, she says, was specific to Spock.  I haven't been able to catch one of these on screen but three necklaces with stones like these were sold by It's a Wrap!
I recently re-discovered this documentary treat thanks to a friend in the Trek Prop & Costume Forum.  If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend it.  Next time you watch the Fal-tor-pan sequence, you can thank Maggie Schpak for giving the Vulcans such a remarkable look!

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