Thursday, December 2, 2010

smoke and mirrors II ~ or how to stretch your dollar to get the biggest bang for your buck.

About a year ago at this time, I wrote about a set I designed when I was Visual Arts Director at a church in California. 
For those of you new to this blog, you can read more about it HERE.
This year, I am back at it again, but this time in the role of a volunteer. I am now part of the creative team at Lake City Community Church in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. I was asked to design a set for the weeks leading up to Christmas Eve that would be less thematic and more generic. - one that would fit the moderate budget and could be reused throughout the year. The lobby would give everyone their traditional Christmas fix, but when you entered the auditorium, it would be more abstract and theatrical.
So I went fishing around on the Internet and saw many grand designs.

The word "spandex" came up in several conversations....
As cool as it looks, it is a bit pricey.
designed by Duke Dejong (aka: The Duke of Spandex)
Then I remembered how cool that faux stained glass looked....
 designed by Patrick Fore from Journey Church in Norman, Oklahoma
But the printing and paper costs were a little high.

Then this caught my eye:
designed by Camron Ware
I bet you can't guess how that was done...

Smoke and mirrors baby.

This is where we started...

...and here is what we did:

Bought a roll of 5' wide Weed Block from Home Depot (about $100)

Cut several 30' lengths from it - I cut it 6' longer than required so it would "puddle" on the floor.

(I love my huge foyer - fondly nicknamed "the bowling alley")

Sewed a casing along the top edge of each panel.
We laid them all out on a lot of painter's plastic.

Using brooms of all kinds and a few gallons of cheap white semi-gloss paint we randomly "broomed" and dribbled the paint onto each panel.
It took five of us and almost no time at all - it requires a person on either end to hold the cloth taught.

Biggest concern ~ the paint seemed to soak into the cloth ~ would the treatment dry "opaque" enough for it to create the effect we wanted???
(To be completely honest, I went to bed that night a little freaked out ~ I had no Plan B...)
Moving on....

Using cheap conduit cut into 5' lengths, we hung them from the catwalk - the biggest decision here was how many to use - five or seven?
(design rule #1: always use odd numbers)

I decided on five.

Now comes the smoke and mirrors part...

The lighting crew!!!!!
All light is absorbed by the black landscape cloth, and only the paint is illuminated.

Cool, yes?

AND...we can change the mood of the room simply by the flick of a switch...

We can also use these panels at other times of the year, in different configurations and placement to create a completely new design.
A huge THANK YOU to Dennis, Tod, Patty, Myrna, David, and Ron for sharing your gifts and working your magic.
See ya in the pew....


  1. This is so clever and looks fantastic!

  2. I love it Pam! You are so creative!!

  3. Wow. Awesome job. That is one heck of a stage to deal with!!! Wish I could come and enjoy the service.

  4. Brilliant, Pam! I'm going to forward this to the Art Team at our church!! Thanks for the info!!
    Hope you're enjoying this wonderful season!!
    Blessings to you,

  5. Oh my goodness, how very creative. It looks amazing! Especially at church. It really neat how the composition of your art changes with each light put on it. Truly awesome. :)