This was a very interesting project to work on. With this stage we used both our Heavy Knit product for the more opaque pieces like the main body of the backdrop and we used a Supreme Mesh product for the legs and the eye in the center of the main backdrop so that a large video screen could be viewed at a particular times during the show, through the eye, yet appear opaque when lighted from the front during the rest of the show. The challenge on this project was to make the two piece come together and appear seamless. The background art came to us as one piece and we digitally cut so it would print exactly the same size on the Supreme Mesh as it did on the Heavy Knit without excessive overlap. The end result is a stunning visual feast for the eyes. View pictures at by clicking here.
Recently I was asked to create a custom wood texture and wood beams for a Kid Rock’s Born Free tour stage. The end product is a full blown Kid Rock Saloon set complete with branded, burned in Jim Beam(tm) logos and so on. This set looks like a real wood, old time western saloon. The effect is killer. The best part about this set is all the wood is actually printed fire proofed fabric. Every stair case, riser and even the bar itself is all covered in fabric that looks like thick, heavy wood beams.
For those of you that are reading this that deal with the logistics of moving a show from town to town, set up and tear down, you understand what a time saver, labor saver and money saver this is. What would normally take four men and thirty minutes to do now takes two men a few minutes because they’re not disassembling huge ridged panels. Not to mention less weight/ less fuel costs and so on. Something to think about. We can digitally create Wood, stone, Brick and Block or whatever you need and give you an awesome looking stage.
In a world of high impact graphics, vibrant colors and over the top visual/video effects at shows, I’ve found over the last few years that the color gray and shades of gray are my favorite colors to work with.
For most people, gray evokes images of battle ships and gloomy days. From my perspective, it’s a lighting directors dream. A gray backdrop lets the lighting designer take control of the mood and drama of the stage.
Add the texture and sweep of a complex swag to your drapes and you can achieve beautiful effects that will transcends your stage to a whole new level. It’s not the only color of course, but something to consider when your planning your tour. Get your gray on!
I don’t know if you are familiar with iL CiRCo, but if you aren’t, you should definitely check it out. Based in San Diego but appearing throughout the world, iL CiRCo is a troupe of singers, dancers, acrobats, and a variety of performers that put on amazing shows!
We were pleased to be asked to make custom stage drapes for the troupe earlier this year, and were really excited recently to receive a short performance video from the client showing our drapery “in action” in Panama. Unfortunately, I am unable to attach the video to this post, but I was able to pull out a still photo from it.
Isn’t the drapery gorgeous? I really think it fits the mood of the show – ethereal, whimsical, and just a little fantastical. The drapery is made from FR Crushed Glimmerene in Magenta. Glimmerene is a gorgeous fabric with a beautiful shimmery, almost iridescent quality.
I love the way the fabric drape hangs in a serious of swags and openings, with the height of the drape ranging from 34′ high in the center down to 22′ high on either side. And I am even more happy to say that the client, Imagination Entertainment, was so pleased that they have recently ordered a second identical drape!
The most common fabric used for exhibit booth drapery is Banjo Cloth. It is lightweight, durable, permanently flame retardant, and relatively inexpensive. For these reasons, it is used in Convention Centers throughout the country, usually in a neutral color such as black or blue.
However, more and more exhibitors are looking for ways to make their booths “stand out from the crowd,” and one of the easiest ways to do that is to bring their own drapery to the show.
There are a number of different drapery options available to exhibitors. The easiest option is to purchase your own Banjo Cloth drapery panels in a different color than that offered by the Convention Center, perhaps a color that coordinates with your company logo.
Better yet, take it a step further and purchase traditional exhibit drapery but in a different fabric. Traditional exhibit drapery panels are manufactured using a single width of fabric (generally 4′ to 5′ wide, but occasionally up to 9′ wide, depending on the fabric selected), with a pipe pocket sewn on the top. Panels are sewn flat (unpleated) and are “pushed together” on the drape support to create “natural” pleating.
With traditional exhibit drapery, it is a simple matter to substitute the drapery at the show. Simply unhook the drape support from the uprights, slide off the Convention Center’s Drapes, slide on your own drapes, and hook the drape support back on the uprights.
These traditional exhibit drapes can be made from a wide variety of fabrics, depending on the desired look. One option is to use a synthetic velour/velvet, such as DFR 15oz Encore or PFR 8oz Super-Vel. These offer a rich “theatrical” appearance and are available in a variety of colors. They are also durable and can be cleaned without losing the flame retardant properties. As a matter of fact, Rent What? includes both fabrics in their Pipe & Base Drapery inventory and have recently posted some terrific photos on Flickr. If the look of velour isn’t quite what you are looking for, single-width panels can also be made many different types of fabrics, from RB Cloth to Satin to Voile, and much more. The sky’s the limit!
If you want a highly customized look, however, consider moving past the traditional single-width panel to a custom drape manufactured to size. With custom drapery, not only do you have a wide selection of fabric choices, but you can also choose to have a single (wider) drape for each booth “wall,” you can choose to have the drape pleated, you can even choose a different top finish, such as Hidden Sewn Ties, to give that extra polish to your booth.
As you can see, there are numerous drapery options available that allow you to personalize your exhibit booth and make it stand out in the crowd – options for just about every budget and style. So consider going “Beyond Banjo Cloth” for your next show!
During Megan’s trip to Shanghai for the Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network conference, she had the opportunity to meet up with a friend who lives in China and visit Shanghai’s garment district (including a few fabric mills).
She reported that it was a fascinating experience, seeing how fabrics are made and sold in China. She also had a chance to take some great pictures.
To me, the most interesting was to see the twists of yarn ready for weaving – quite reminiscent of the yarn used for home knitting and crocheting.
Working in a company that manufacturers custom stage curtains, I am around fabric all the time – and yet pictures like this continue to educate and inspire me. They remind me that the textile industry operates in so many countries – there are fabric mills and suppliers in so many countries around the world, including the U.S., Canada, Mexico, China, India, and many more. It really is a small world!
I have posted a number of times on the issue of flame retardancy of stage curtains, in part because it is one of my areas of expertise (though I still have a lot to learn) but mostly because I find that it is not only an important topic, but also an area about which there are many misconceptions.
Last June, for example, I posted about the differences between IFR, FR, NFR and other related terms. The primary difference between FR and IFR is the method in which a fabric is made flame retardant. Either it is made flame retardant in the fiber stage (IFR) or it is made flame retardant after weaving (FR).
Occasionally, we have clients who request an IFR fabric because they believe that it is “more” flame retardant than an FR fabric. For example, they will state that, because the drapery will be near pyrotechnics on a rock show stage, they prefer to use an IFR fabric.
The reality, though, is that a brand new IFR fabric is neither more nor less flame retardant than a brand new FR fabric, and vice versa. Both fabric have been tested and certified to meet specific flame retardancy standards, such as NFPA 701 and California’s Title 19.
Now, there is a difference in longevity of flame retardancy between IFR and FR. Typically, an IFR fabric will remain flame retardant for the life of the fabric (regardless of whether it is laundered, dry-cleaned, etc). However, an FR fabric will eventually lose its flame retardancy (usually due to laundering, repeated dry cleaning, or extended exposure to high humidity conditions). Once it is retreated, though, it again is “equal” to the IFR fabric in terms of flame retardancy.
And remember, there are instances in which a drape made from a flame retardant fabric will lose its flame retardant properties. One way is if dust is allowed to accummulate on the surface of the drape. Did you know that dust (as it is composed primarily of organic matter) is flammable? In such a case, it doesn’t matter if the drape is made of IFR fabric or FR fabric – if there is a layer of dust on the surface, the drape might not be flame retardant.
So, when choosing the fabric for stage curtains, there are many factors that are important to consider – budget, longevity, cleaning options, durability, and much more. But choosing IFR over FR because it seems “more flame retardant” should not be one of the factors.
Did you happen to catch the Country Music Awards last night? If you didn’t, you missed a beautiful performance by Carrie Underwood (Entertainer of the Year).
I am proud to say that our sister company, Rent What? Inc., provided the beautiful White Voile swags and drapes (made by Sew What? Inc., naturally) that provided the gorgeous backdrop for Carrie’s performance. The combination of the soft floaty fabric and the terrific lighting techniques really sets the mood.
Last spring, I was lucky enough to see Celtic Woman live at the Orange County (Calif) Performing Arts Center, and it was really a lovely show. Well, Celtic Woman is back in the US with a new tour, “Songs from the Heart,” and Sew What? was proud to be asked by production manager Scotty Ross to provide custom stage curtains to the tour.
The focus was on an ethereal look that could be transformed through lighting. We started with the unique drum risers, which were comprised of three layers. The top layer was White Voile, digitally printed with the client’s artwork (modeled after the “Songs from the Heart ” album cover art). In the middle was White Iridescent Sheer, gathered at 200% fullness. The bottom layer was Black 16oz Commando Cloth to ensure that the drum riser behind was masked from view.
The same White Iridescent Sheer fabric was used for upstage sheers, complemented by a swagged border and midstage swagged legs in Silver Velvet, along with legs in a White-Silver Sparkle Velvet.
As I’ve mentioned before, silver or grey fabric (along with white fabric) is ideal for colored lighting. Check out how the drapery looked under a purple / blue lighting scheme:
And then how it looked under a red / gold lighting scheme:
It’s hard to believe that these are the same drapes – and that under natural light, they are actually white and silver!
I think the drapes turned out just gorgeous, and evoke just the right romantic, ethereal mood for the beautiful music of Celtic Woman. Want to see (and hear) more? Check out this video of the tour at Radio City Music Hall. And if you’ve never seen them live, try to get out to see them this spring – they really do put on a great show.
Awhile back, we did a project for production designer Stanley Elleflot, for The Shins, and Stanley was gracious enough to recently send us some photos. It was one of those deceptively simple projects that turn out to be amazing in production.
Using 120″ wide FR White Stretch Fabric (similar to Cambio! fabric), we slit 12 strips of the material to a finished size of 30′ h x 18″ w. The tops were finished with webbing, grommets & ties, as well as 1″ Velcro, while the bottoms had open pipe hems. The sides were left unfinished.
Sounds simple, right? Well, take a look at how dramatic these simple stretch strips look in concert:
Photo Courtesy Stanley Effelot
The strips were hung from truss at with pipes at the bottom for weight. I think that the impact of the repeating element of the strips, along with the gorgeous lighting of yellows and oranges, is really gorgeous! Here’s a close up shot:
Photo Courtesy Stanley Effelot and The Shins
I also love the way the lighting designer is able to constantly change the colors of the strips throughout the song in this video – check it out! This really is a versatile option for set design, whether as the primary design for or as one element in a more complex set design.
« Newer Profiles — Older Profiles »