For our Easter services, it was time to redo the stage. The current design was up since the new year. I’m a creative type who would love to change the stage every week but since that is not realistic, I have to be content with redoing it for our big events. 🙂 So here’s what we did.
Here’s how the stage has looked since January. I wrote an earlier post about this design.
To add variety since then, I have rotated around the lights from week to week by programming the board and we changed the gels in the lights once. It was time for something different.
The planning team decided the feel we wanted for the stage was a festive, celebrative type of feel. Given that it was Easter and spring, I went for a bright colorful look. So I drew up a design in Illustrator that ended up looking like this.
The artwork for the banners was from a graphic I got from iStockPhoto and I just broke it up into separate banners. Sure saved me a lot of time from having to draw all that myself!
The design looked all fine except there was one huge challenge, made more evident by looking at the birds-eye view.
It is a bit hard to tell but if you look above, you can see the horizontal colored lines that represent the banners. They were not all on the same plane but staggered from front to back and side to side. Our current system has only two rows of pipes to hang from, which means you really can only hang two planes of things from the ceiling. So we needed to work around that.
I sent the artwork to a banner place to get the banners made. I really wanted fabric banners, but they cost an arm and a leg so I went with indoor-quality vinyl to keep costs down. When they came back, they were all curly on the ends and unhemmed.
Curly banners just would not do. Time to whip out the old sewing machine.
Unfortunately my house was not big enough to handle the size of these banners so we set up a very nice sewing area in the church lobby. Gotta love the ability to put four folding tables together!
It was a bit of a struggle to push those large banners through but other than one spool of thread having breakage problems, it went relatively smoothly.
In the end, all the banners had sleeves for pipes along the top and bottom.
The stage crew, Glen, Peter and El, spent the first day installing a pulley system in the ceiling that my husband designed. Albert went over to troubleshoot when they weren’t working correctly — sure is nice to have an engineer husband! In the end they were able to install pulley systems on 4 of the 6 pipes.
All the pipes were lowered down to my level. Since I’m at least a foot shorter than everyone else on the team, they kept the pipes nice and low for me.
Glen bought half-inch galvanized steel pipes (only $2 a pipe!). He measured the pipes against the banners…
…and cut them down to size using a pipe cutter.
After a while El took over the job. Notice the wide assortment of tools. The hacksaws just didn’t cut it, which is why we went with the pipe cutter.
Wait a second. Did I just use a pun?
Meanwhile, Peter was changing the heights of the platforms according to the plan I gave him. He said he doesn’t like to be in pictures so I took a picture of him anyway. Because this stage redesign would not have been possible without all of his work!
Meanwhile, I was measuring out rope and tying them different lengths. Notice how I tied strings from the front pipes to the back pipes. These would later support the banners that were dangling from between the pipes on the front to back plane.
I tied knots in each string so we would know where to hang the banners from. This also prevented the banners from all slipping to the center of the rope between the two pipes.
Meanwhile, unknown to me, Peter, who had made home-made bread, was in the back making us grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch. He brought all the cheese with him to church that day and went into the kitchen to make us lunch.
The homemade bread was delicious. The sandwiches were delicious. Peter is quite a cook. I was so impressed.
And then I took a picture of the food. Cuz I always take pictures of food.
Another thing Peter did was make a time lapse video of the week. He said he would send it to me so I will post it up when he does!
And Glen, meanwhile, was going shutter happy taking many pictures. His picture-taking skills have really improved! He likes to steal my little camera and go around taking random pictures.
Like… what would things look like if you were an ant walking across the stage?
I forgot to mention I also hemmed and sewed a sleeve along the top of the fabric banners. The fabric was crepe I got at 50% off. There was no red crepe so I got red satin (also 50% off) and used the back as the right side. The purple was taffeta — the only fabric I could find at that color. It has a slight shine but since it’s in the back of the stage it’s not noticeable.
After tying the banners to the poles and ropes, it was time to pull them up.
We also hung the left side. Some of the banners were crooked because we had to go on the lift and move the ropes to span two side-by-side poles.
Here’s a detail of how the banners were hung. The back to front ropes hanging from the poles had knot in them. These served as anchors for us to tie the vertical ropes that passed through the galvanized steel pipe in the banner.
And now time to lift the center poles.
All the banners were now up. Not too tidy looking, though.
Thank goodness for levels! They helped us get the banners even. Then we raised and lowered the back banners to a height that made the overall arrangement look visually pleasing.
Time to light the banners. Trying to light them was a bear because of all the shadows, and we only have all our lights on a single plane. Finally we figured out lighting the cross from both sides reduced the shadow it cast.
However, depending on where you sit, you do see the glare in the banners. That’s why I wanted cloth banners. But the cost of vinyl just can’t be beat.
In the end we used 8 Fresnel lights to light all the banners. I wanted to light back banners from the floor but you can see the ceiling all the way from halfway down our worship center — including all the ropes and knots. So, we nixed the floor lighting.
The finished product.
The design adds a dimensionality to the stage because it changes depending on where you are sitting.
What a huge contrast to last year’s stage design when we still had our gold and red curtains!
The banners helped contribute to a celebrative atmosphere. Our Easter services were an awesome celebration of Christ’s resurrection and the power of God to change lives. I’ll write a blog about that later!