Christmas Set Breakdown

1 01 2008

Last week I posted some pics of our December/Christmas set…scroll down a bit for a refresher…

I really wanted to keep the look of this series simple, classy and elegant. One of our big goals recently is to increase our stock of soft goods (curtains, texture, fabrics, etc.) and the original sketch was to get a full red backdrop made, but with the holidays, the staging company was not able to get it done. I had used a company out of California that has really good prices on velour and velvets for a previous series (, so I ordered about 75 yards of their Burgandy Crushed Velvet and had one of our amazing volunteers sew them into 5’x21′ panels. They turned out really nice…we are actually making 6 more panels so that we can make a full backdrop out of them. One of the unique problems with our setup is the rear projection…meaning each of our sets has to be either built out of the way of the projector (it’s behind the black curtain traveler system) or has to be able to move out of the way of the image. Due to this, I had our seamstress make (2) 2.5’x21′ panels so that they could be attached to different sides of the traveler and still open, but would appear to be the same as all the other panels when closed.

The chandeliers were made out of 46 white frosted and pearlized christmas ornaments each. I really wanted to make them spiral sorta like a DNA helix, with one helix being a little bigger than the other to sorta amplify the motion of the spiral. I used 3 inch and 2.25 inch balls to create it that I bought from Walmart. (Here is a great advertisement for planning ahead. I ended up having to literally buy out 15 Wal-Marts to find the amount of ornaments needed, but Jared was able to find all of his with one trip to Garden Ridge, ouch). It was amazingly hard to find simple white ornaments…everything was too gaudy for our purposes. Anyways, we cut out (5) 3′ diameter circles of 1/2″ MDF to serve as the bases. In order to get them to spiral like we wanted them to, I took a simple red solo cup and attached a string with a sharpie at the other end and as the string wrapped around the cup, the circle got smaller causing the exact spiral that I was looking for. After drilling holes every 4 inches along the line, we used fishing line to hang the ornaments from the bases. Let me introduce you to a little wonder that will save you hours of frustration adjusting so many pieces that have to be exactly the correct link. The couple at Oregon Cordlock really have a great product that makes it so easy to adjust lightweight items that you need to hang…sorta like the closures on Apple Store bags. As long as you cut the string long enough, the ornaments are easily adjustable. You may be wondering what we did with the center chandelier, since it is clearly in the center of the projector’s line of sight. We rigged up a pulley system, up and over our grid to a box over to the side of our stage with a battery powered winch inside. That way all our backstage managers had to do was hit a button to raise or lower the entire chadlier into position. You can thank Chris and Brian, the two craziest implementers on our team for that bit of genius!

The concept for this series actually began last Christmas with some design magazines that I was checking out. I love just rummaging through a bunch of magazines at a time to see what catches my eye first and then going back through them in detail later. The idea for the chandeliers actually came from a Christmas cookie magazine…they had a christmas ornament mobile hanging in the corner of one of their ads…just goes to show that inspiration can come from anywhere!

For Christmas, we added Ikea LED ball strands (45 feet long each!!!) to both the stage and the auditorium walls. What a cool product! The can’t change colors, but they are dimmable and react really quickly, so they work great with effects. We are using them in our next set as well, so I will go into greater detail with them later.

I hope this is helpful for someone. Just remember to keep your eyes open, because ideas can come from anywhere! Happy New Year!




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