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Monthly Archives: November 2010

29 11, 2010

Planning a Holiday Show or Event?

By |November 29th, 2010|Education, Products, Projects|0 Comments

It’s hard to believe, but Thanksgiving is past, and the holiday season is starting in full swing.  Now’s the time to think about what custom stage drapes and other soft goods you might need for your holiday show or party.

Need some ideas?   See if these get your creativity going.

That Traditional Christmas Look

Inspiration: David Archuleta’s Christmas 2009 Tour

Specs: Gold Lightweight Velour Drapery, highlighted with festive red bows and large gold balls.  Add Christmas Trees, Wreaths, whatever you can imagine to set that festive holiday mood.

Winter Wonderland

Inspiration: “Silver Satin” and “Delightfully White” specialty drapery from Rent What?

Specs: A variety of Silver Satin drapes, from Austrians to Swags to Borders (and more) combine to evoke a romantic winter scene.  Add a little white with White Voile or Lightweight Velour Drapes, along with twinkle lights and a few snowflakes here and there for sparkle.

An Industrial New Year’s Eve

Inspiration: James Taylor; The Decemberists

Specs: Cool crinkly Metal Mesh gives a great industrial vibe, especially when lighted with spots in different colors.   Think about supplementing the look with tension fabric shapes, other crushed or textured fabrics in grey, silver and black tones, and metal pieces in a variety of finishes (pewter, silver, stainless steel, chrome, rubbed bronze, etc).

Still stuck for an idea?  Take a look at the Sew What? and Rent What? portfolios and Flickr for loads of inspirational photos and videos.

22 11, 2010

Korn Mixed Media Cut Drop

By |November 22nd, 2010|Digital Printing, News, Projects|0 Comments

Such a nice surprise to find Sew What? recognized in the November 2010 issue of Projection, Lights and Staging News (PLSN).  The industry mag included a terrific article by Steve Jennings on this past summer’s 2010 Mayhem Festival in Dallas, TX, in which Steve interviewed several people at the festival, including Jim Lenahan, Set Designer for Korn.  In speaking about the set design, Jim mentions the mixed media backdrop constructed by Sew What? according to Jim’s design.

It really was a fantastic theatrical backdrop, including black netting, digitally printed elements, and smoke tubes, and looks great as part of Jim’s complete “industrial oil rig” set design.   We really enjoyed working on it – thanks for the shout out, Jim!

Want to see photos of the show?  Steve has included several terrific photos in the article – just scroll to the bottom.

18 11, 2010

Yes – I can add Video!

By |November 18th, 2010|Authors|2 Comments

As faithful readers know, I have been blogging for about a year and a half, since March 2009.  I started out knowing almost nothing about the “mechanics” of it – specifically, WordPress.  I didn’t have any problem figuring out the basics – I’ve been using computers for 20 odd years.  

But one thing that gave me problems was video.  This past summer, Michael with Imagination Entertainment sent us a short video of a performance of iL CiRCo in which custom stage drapes made by Sew What? are a prominent part of the scene.

Unfortunately, try as I might, I could not figure out how to include a video in a post.  I finally gave up, pulled a still image from the video, and used that in the post.

However, recently Megan discovered in her e-mail a video sent to her last year by another client, Dan with “Sonic Youth.”  She forwarded it to me and suggested I include it in a post.  I decided that it was time I figure out how to include videos in my post.

So, I sat down at the computer this evening, started this post, and clicked on every single button on the “Kitchen Sink” in WordPress.  Low and behold – I figured out how to add a video to the Media Library and then how to embed it into a post.  Woo hoo!

So, to show that I really can do it, here is the iL CiRCo video that I was unable to post in August (click here to read the original post):

Pretty cool!  I’ll be posting soon on the “Sonic Youth” project and will definitely include Dan’s video in that post!

16 11, 2010

The Art of the Kabuki

By |November 16th, 2010|Education|7 Comments

The Drape-Dropping Art of Kabuki

Kabuki. To the non-roadie, it brings up images of exaggerated dance steps, white face paint and notes sung so shrill they can shatter glass – if not the audience’s nerves.

But if you are on the road or work behind the curtains, you know just what I am talking about: making a drape magically (at the flip of a switch or pull of a cord) drop from the top and land gracefully (we hope) on the stage floor, if at all possible without any injury to the band or the band gear.

So let’s talk about the art of kabuki, what works and what doesn’t – and why sometimes a little Velcro and a piece of string may be all that’s needed to dramatically drop the drape.

Solenoid System – Just Push the Button

It takes but one finger to pull off this magic act. This system comes pre-wired with the solenoids attached to cheeseboroughs (pipe clamps) ready for installation right onto the truss. When the cue comes, you just fire the solenoid at will and viola! Several soft good suppliers now offer solenoid system rentals that are ready to go. The best bet is to get it from the same vendor as the draperies so you will know that the solenoid system is compatible with the fabric that you plan to use with it. If you are touring, be sure to have this system maintained regularly and checked before each show. Of course most kabuki drapes should be made with a built in “manual break-away” in the event of a misfire. Make sure that your sewing shop has experience and is able to help manufacture for a successful drape drop no matter what.

“Po-band” Manual Kabuki – Tug Here

Every band can afford to have a kabuki drape. With a pre-made webbing header that ties to the truss, you can use a variety of interchangeable drapes that will tear away when manually pulled via tie-lines or ropes. Of course there’s a trade-off: this requires more than one person, as you will want to pull from both ends, if not also from the center. Some coordination is required too if you don’t want it to look like a primary school production of a Christmas Carol.

Double Kabuki – Double the Fun

It’s twice the drama. Use a double-fire solenoid system or a combination of solenoid and manual to achieve a “double drop” from the truss. The drape will rest in a “diaper” that runs the full width of the drape (or stage). At first fire/release, one side of the diaper will drop, allowing the drape to fall into its hanging position. Upon second fire/release the drape will drop to the floor. Perfect for mid show set or band changes. Drop it in after the first act so your set change is in privacy, and then drop the drape to the floor to reveal the second act.

Fabric Choices

The perfect kabuki fabric will be lightweight, durable and inherently flame retardant. Our recommended fabrics are IFR (inherently flame retardant) polyesters that can be sewn with minimal seams and are durable and ready for some rough and tumble treatment. Aside from the obvious color choice of “black,” a wide range of color choices are available and these fabrics take airbrushed designs well, so go ahead and personalize it!

Better yet, why not consider a digitally printed kabuki? Get all the benefits of a flame retardant fabric with your giant graphic (artistic or photographic) digitally printed right onto it. With the ability to present picture perfect images on a grand scale you can’t help but want to consider this option. Choose a supplier who does quality work and understands the needs of a tour. Stay away from outdoor signage manufacturers and keep clear of vinyl unless you are having an outdoor gig.

Flame Certification for Certain

Last but not least… Let’s all repeat together: a flame cert is a must, or leave it in the truck.

No matter how you try to argue it, the liability does, at least in part, rest with you when it comes to providing the fire marshal with a valid and current flame certificate for your touring draperies. So know your soft goods, know your soft goods provider, and carry valid flame certificates with you at all times. Without valid certification the local fire marshal could demand that all the fabrics on set be removed – and I am not referring to after the show. The best bet is to choose a soft goods supplier who offers digital storage of your flame certificates and can deliver them to you day, night or weekend if you get caught on the road without them.

So come to think of it, drop-drape kabuki, like Japanese Kabuki, is kind of a dance too, between choosing the right technology, the right fabric, the right certification and the right provider. But done right, it’s a lot easier to orchestrate!

11 11, 2010

LED Drapes

By |November 11th, 2010|Products|3 Comments

I posted back in August about LED Star Drops, but I wanted to tell you more about LED Drapes and offer some links to some cool photos.

The classic “starry night” backdrop that I posted about previously, was achieved with the ShowLED Classic system.  In this system, bluish white LED lights are used to create the “starry night” effect.  However, you can also exchange the bluish white LED lights for colored lights (red, blue, yellow, and green) for a colored light effect.

For those who want to quickly and easily change the colors (without having to physically change the LED lights), the ShowLED Chameleon is a great choice.  It is a RGB (Red/Green/Blue) system, meaning you can change the colors just through use of the menu structure on the controller.  Color changes can be done in the blink of an eye!

Sew What? is now offering custom LED Drapes utilizing either the Classic or the Chameleon system,and of course, Rent What? offers LED Star Drops for rent.

Check these great photos of LED Drapes using the ShowLED Classic and ShowLED Chameleon systems.  Ever wonder what a controller looks like?  Here’s a photo for you.