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Monthly Archives: March 2012

28 03, 2012

Great Gag with Kabuki Drop

By |March 28th, 2012|Products, Projects|2 Comments

One of the most popular effects for Rent What? Inc.’s clients is using a Kabuki Drop. That is when you take some drapes, hang them using a solenoid system, and watch the audience go wild when the drapes are dropped in a dramatic moment of flair, usually to reveal the band or some other surprise hiding behind. Originally these systems were primarily used for bands on stage wanting to add some excitement to an opening number, or as an effective way to add some “punch” to a special song. We have been renting these systems out for years in that capacity. However, recently they have been getting requested more and more for events that we never would have imagined!

Lately we’ve been having requests for them from everything from new airplane “reveals”, schools using them to spice up talent shows, and even churches adding some fun to their weekly sermons. Case in point, recently we had one of our favorite clients, New Life Church in Renton, Washington, contact us for help with a sort of “practical joke” they wanted to play on one of the ministers giving a sermon. They ended up using the solenoid system on a rubber trash can filled with over 2000 ping pong balls.

When they wanted to have them drop (as a surprise to the minister), they used the controller to drop the edge of the trash can just like they would a drape. Down came the thousands of ping pong balls onto the minister, much to the delight of the audience (and to the genuine surprise of the minister)!

Kabuki Drops add so much fun and excitement to any event—and it seems like the sky’s the limit with how they can be used! Rent What? Inc. truly enjoys getting to help create these incredibly memorable moments for all of our clients’ special events.

22 03, 2012

Comparing Canvas and Muslin

By |March 22nd, 2012|Education, Fabrics, Products|4 Comments

We get frequent requests for custom backdrops and cycloramas, sometimes to be used in its plain fabric state, and sometimes to be hand-painted onsite for end use as a scenic backdrop. With those requests, we find that occasionally there is a confusion regarding the differences between cotton canvas and cotton theatrical muslin.

Cotton canvas is a sturdy woven fabric used for a variety of home and commercial purposes. There are two types of canvas – plain and duck cloth. Plain canvas, which has a looser weave, is used in applications needing greater flexibility, such as shoes and backpacks. The tighter-weaved duck canvas (also called duck cloth or scenery canvas) is more commonly used stretched over frames (for paintings, other art pieces, and theatre scenery pieces) and for items such as tarps and tents, and is available in both flame retardant and non-flame retardant options.

As duck cloth accepts dye very well, lighter weight versions are manufactured in a variety of colors for use in retail displays and special event décor. Canvas, whether in the plain or duck weave, is not suitable for theatrical backdrops or cycloramas.

Cotton muslin has a similar plain weave to cotton canvas, but typically has a smoother, softer hand. Lighter weight versions are used for a variety of applications, including apparel, whereas heavy-weight theatrical muslin is traditionally used for backdrops and cycloramas.

Heavy weight theatrical muslin (also known as scenic muslin) is used extensively in theatres, film and television studios, photography studios, and live music performances, primarily in the form of custom made stage backdrops and cycloramas. As it is available in a standard version in widths up to 126 inches and in an extra wide version in widths up to 39 feet, scenic muslin allows for the creation of seamless panels as large as 38’ h x 180’ wide. If seamed, there is even greater flexibility in size.

All widths of heavy weight theatrical muslin are available in a natural color (the undyed color of the fabric), and depending on the width desired may also available in additional colors, including bleached white, black, light blue, dark blue, light grey and dark grey (not all colors are available in all widths). Theatrical muslin is sold as both flame retardant and non flame retardant.

20 03, 2012

When to Rent Pipe and Drape

By |March 20th, 2012|Products|3 Comments

Last week, I posted on times when it might be better to buy pipe and drape.  Today, I’d like to give you information on the rental side, with information on times when it’s better to rent pipe and drape rather than to purchase it outright.


If you only do 1 or 2 local trade shows or other similar types of events a year, and never really know what your booth set-up or configuration will be, then it would be much smarter to rent your pipe and base hardware and draping each time you need it. Counting on the inventory you might have isn’t always dependable, and then you’re stuck at the last minute having to figure out what else you may need to supplement your own supply of goods. If you rent from us each time, we can help you figure out exactly how much pipe and drape you will need for each specific event, taking all of the guess work out of it for you.


If you are based in Southern California, it’s often much less expensive to rent everything you need for those occasional special events or productions.  This is especially the case if the event is also in Southern California, eliminating the need to ship the pipe and drape or worry about how the price of fuel is going to affect your overall rental price due to increasingly higher shipping costs.


Depending on the size of your company, sometimes it’s easier to rent everything when you need it, rather than having to find a place to store everything and then pull it out every time another conference, convention or special event comes around. Pipe and Drape can take up a lot of room, and the hardware is sometimes of an awkward shape and size, so it can take a lot of stress out of the occasion to not have to worry about where you will be able to safely store everything all year long.


Renting is perfect for larger events in which you need a lot of pipe and base hardware and drapery that you wouldn’t normally ever need again. This is especially true if you know it’s going to be a massively large one-time event, in which you don’t want to have to worry about dealing with storing everything afterwards. It also makes sense to rent pipe and base hardware if the event is very small and requires odd sizes of equipment different from those you expect to need for typical events in the future.


If you have a local event in Southern California, no matter how big or small, renting can be a great option for you when you want someone to come to your event site and install everything, then come back when it’s over and strike and return everything too. That eliminates the worry of possibly not having the booths set up correctly, or not knowing how to install everything yourself. If you rent from us, we can be sure that everything is exactly the way you want it, and then when it’s over we’ll take it all away from you so you won’t have to lift a finger.

So, basically, here are some rules of thumb that will help you decide if renting is the best way to go:

  • You only have one or two trade shows or events each year, and you never really know exactly what your configuration will be.
  • You or your event are located in Southern California, so that shipping isn’t required, and you can come by and pick everything up without a problem or have us deliver/pickup everything for you.
  • You are a smaller company and don’t have a place to safely store pipe and drape year round in between your trade shows or special events.
  • The event you are planning is so huge that you know you would probably never need that much pipe and drape again, or so small that you know that any future needs would require different sized equipment and drapery than needed for the current event.
  • The event is taking place in Southern California, and you would like us to do all of the work for you—from the delivery and install to the strike and pickup —so you don’t have to worry about how to put everything together properly and safely for your event.

If these points apply to you, then it would just make more sense to rent your pipe and drape so you can lessen your stress and worry about how to put everything together, where you will have to store it all year round, and how you would be able to make use of it again in the future for a completely different event and configuration. Renting gives you the ability to have exactly what you want, where you want it, and for how long you will need it.

15 03, 2012

When To Buy Pipe and Drape

By |March 15th, 2012|Products|3 Comments

A question we get a lot here at Rent What? Inc. is, “When is it better to rent, and when is it better to buy a Pipe and Drape System for my upcoming event?” Of course there are always a lot of great reasons for each, but I’d like to focus now on why it may be a better idea to purchase, and talk about when it would be a better idea to rent in a future blog.


If you do more than 3 or 4 local trade shows each year, and often have a similar booth set up each time, then cost-wise it just makes more sense to go ahead and purchase your hardware. Renting it over and over again, depending on the size of your booth, can add up quickly. If you purchase it from Sew What? Inc., for just a few hundred dollars more, then you would have it every time you needed it, year round. Then, if you wanted to rent different colors or styles of draping for individual events, you could then arrange that with Rent What?, and still have a unique feel to each event without the added expense of paying for the rental of hardware, too.


Rent What? cannot rent custom-made backdrops, which is a specialty of our sister company, Sew What?  If you wanted to have a beautiful and unique custom backdrop made for your booth, then you would ultimately have to rent the hardware each and every time you wanted to be able to display it. If you owned your own hardware for the backdrop, then you would be able to showcase your custom backdrop anytime you would like without having to worry about availability of the rental hardware or the added expense.


People don’t always realize how extremely heavy the pipe and base hardware can be, especially the bases, which can run anywhere between 13lbs and 62lbs, EACH, depending on your set-up. Shipping pipe and base hardware across the country over and over again can end up costing a lot more than the rental itself, which can really add up in the long run.


Right now Sew What? has a few special deals on single booth set-ups, which could include draping as well, or just include the hardware. For around $250, you can buy all of the hardware needed for a typical 10×10 booth setup. Or for around $500-700, you can purchase an entire booth setup, which would also include banjo cloth drapes for it, as well as separate carrying bags for everything.

So, basically, here are some rules of thumb that will help you decide if buying is the best way to go:

  • You tend to do smaller trade shows, and end up having a similar set up every time.
  • Your trade shows happen several times a year, and often in different parts of the country that would need everything shipped to.
  • You never know how long you’re going to need the hardware for.
  • You have custom draping that you know you’re going to want to hang up at different events, and often.
  • You have a good location to store everything in, and can use the purchased carrying bags from Sew What? to keep everything handily together.


13 03, 2012

Photos from the road

By |March 13th, 2012|Company|2 Comments

In years past, we have designed and printed an annual Sew What? tee shirt, and we loved getting photos from clients showing our tee shirts (and drapery bags) out on the road.  This past December, we decided we wanted to do something a little different. 

But what to choose?  We wanted something that our customers could actually use while on site or out on the road, and something that had some connection with our business, but we couldn’t figure out what.  Then, in our search for a fresh idea, we came upon the idea of a tape measure.  We use heavy duty tape measures on an hourly basis in our sewing shop.  Our cutting team uses them when cutting fabric.  Our sewing staff uses them to measure pleats.  Our quality control team uses them to ensure that the manufactured custom stage curtains are the specified height and width.  What better item to symbolize Sew What? Inc. but a tape measure?

And a tape measure definitely comes in handy for our customers.  They can measure a stage opening to determine the width of track or height and width of curtain needed.  They can measure the height of their pipe and base hardware to ensure that they are ordering the proper replacement pieces.  And they can even use it at home on DIY projects.

Guess what?  We were right – our customers loved it, and we have received several photos of the tape measures in use.  Here’s one…


Of course, we do still get asked whether we might do another tee shirt in the future – and who knows, we might get inspired at the end of this year – but from the comments we have received, the tape measure was a hit!