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Star Cloth


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The fibre harness is expensive and fragile. anything with Christmas lights or net lights etc look like military issue -- they march they dont twinkle. LEDs dont analog dim well usu some form of pwm is used.


There is much to commend the NJD 8000 on slow soft chase to make tungsten lamps twinkle well lay the pattern out evenly but randomly!?! then wire in parallel

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  • 4 years later...

Reviving this old thread (and maybe there is now some cheaper/easier technology available?)


I need to try and turn 3 portals (needed for Dec 09 panto) into light-up/starcloth portals!

The portals are 3"x1" wooden frame and then covered in scenic canvas & painted. Sizes are:

No. 1 portal is 21' high and 40' wide.

No. 2 portal is 19' high and 38' wide

No. 3 portal is 17' high and 36' wide.


Each portal has 5' wide legs and the headers are 4' deep. They are made in sections so they are transportable ... i.e. the headers are made in 3 pieces which pin together and then the legs pin to the bottom of the headers ... standard theatre panto portals!


The canvas has now been painted several times and is ready for replacing or making holes in for lights!

I was wondering if Blue Roomers could advise on this possible idea....

  • Paint the canvas a dark blue.
  • Make holes in canvas and poke lights through --- or maybe just attach to the front of the canvas?
  • Cover the lights and canvas with a dark blue gauze.

Then it can be lit from the front as a normal portal - although it isn't as brightly coloured as our usual panto portals - and then for magical scenes lit up from behind the gauze.


My queries are - what options do I have for the lights? They would have to join together easily from leg to header, along the 3 sections of the header and then to the other leg and in the ideal world we would want them to be "twinkling!"

Where can I purchase such lighting sets? (And any idea how much I might expect to pay?)

They would be controlled through the LX desk (ETC Ion) and we would like them to be dimmable!


Your thoughts are very welcome... thanks!

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hi Suzanne,


A couple of thoughts for you:


- gauze + starcloth effect works better when there's a little bit of distance between the gauze and the lamps; it sounds like you might have been intending to fix the gauze hard against the lamps? Also, the more distance, the better you'll hide the lamps when the portals are lit from the front (depending on the size of lamp you end up with)


- colour scheme sounds good


- I'd incline towards poking the lamps through the portals and leave the mess of wiring behind the canvas


- I've bought fairy lights from these people before. They were good quality, and out of season offer a good way to access a decent range of options. Some of their strings can be daisy chained ("connectable" seems to be the magic keyword on their site), such as these. Does tend to push you towards the more expensive options, though. It might be more viable (depending on the time/ money balance) to create your own wiring assemblies to deal with interconnect issues.


- an alternative source of light sources would be to purchase pea-light (p-light) harnesses (as used on regular starcloths) from a starcloth manufacturer. I know Hawthorns do this, and I can't believe S+H Technical Services don't (although I've never gone down this route myself)


- control wise, I would eschew any integrated controllers and just run 3 circuits back to the normal LX dimmers (you'll have a decent enough load by the time you've lit that area of portal) under the control of the main lighting desk


Hope these are useful starting points,



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Yes we have made our own star cloth.......not sure I would recommend doing it but it was worth it in the end I think!!


To be honest I can't remember what material we used but I could probably find out. We used tri-colour LED's and it all runs off 12 DMX channels, or a stand alone controller we made so we can run it off the lighting desk or on a small scale show from its own controller.


It took a lot of wiring up, we made 2 cloths for ease of folding and storing and I think each cloth was 4.5m x 5m and has 300 LED's in each (although I would recommend more). There are four circuits of lights. In theory you can have any colour you want, but we got cheapish LED's and the colour mixing isn't great. Blue, Green and Red are obviously ok, purple is nice but if you try yellow or white you just get a multitude of colour depending on what angle you are looking at each LED from. We hired a similar cloth from VORTEX LIGHTING one year and the colour mixing was amazing with that one.


Only downside with the material we used was it sometimes builds up static when its been folded up and this can take out the odd LED.


Not sure I've been of any help but I can try and answer any more questions if you would like!



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Yaas..... 16 x 8 feet, was actually a board rather than a cloth. 180 x 12V fairy lights in 36 circuits, wired to a home made 6 x 6 matrix controller. Two of us wired the lamps, took most of a day, and both of us had damage to fingers through wire stripping!


The "cloth" lived in the venue from construction until the place was pulled down. I still have the controller :angry:


A lot of work, but we thought it was well worth the effort at the time.

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Thanks for the replies -


Tom - hadn't thought about the gauze being hard up against the lamps, but yes of course you are quite right. I might look at turning the portals around so that I have the 3"x1" frame "sticking forward" - wouldn't be a massive gap between lights and gauze but maybe enough. (Time for experiments methinks!) The reason I want to leave the wiring between canvas & gauze is because of transportation - if they are on the back then I need to spend more money on covering the wiring with black serge or similar to stop them being damaged in the truck. As it is all being done for charity the less money I spend the better - labour & time is fine as I give that for free!


I'll look into the options/links that have been suggested ... thanks people!

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