How to Make Stage Scenery

Written by jessica herring
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How to Make Stage Scenery
Stage scenery can be two-dimensional objects cut from thin wood panels. (Adam Taylor/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

Stage scenery is background setting used to enhance the realism and theatricality of theatrical productions. Stage scenery can range from elaborate painted backgrounds with three-dimensional objects to bare-bones minimalism. The most prominent piece of stage scenery is the backdrop or "drop," which is a scene painted on a large piece of muslin fabric to correspond with the scenes of a play. A variety of backdrops with different scenes are often painted to simulate convincing changes in location. Such backdrops are sometimes painted on wood panels as well, called "flats." Wood is also used to build elaborate three-dimensional sets, such square wooden frames used to represent the structures of different buildings. An array of props can be utilised as well, such as tables, chairs, beds and more.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • Muslin,fire retardant, size varies
  • Plastic sheets
  • 1 Gallon white paint
  • 1 Gallon cold water
  • Garden sprayer
  • Broom
  • Pencil
  • Paintbrushes
  • Acrylic paint
  • Water
  • Jute band
  • Grommets
  • Grommet setter
  • Hammer
  • Wire (optional)
  • Pipe

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Lay plastic sheets on the floor. Place the muslin on top of the plastic.

  2. 2

    Take 1/2 gallon of the white paint and add 1/2 gallon of water. Stir until thick.

  3. 3

    Put the white paint/water mix into a garden sprayer. Start spraying one corner, about 5 feet wide, while another person blends the mis with a broom. Continue this process until the paint mixture thoroughly covers the entire piece of muslin.

  4. 4

    Let the muslin dry for hours until completely dry. Use fans to expedite the drying process.

  5. 5

    Use a pencil and draw the desired scene onto the muslin. Leave about six inches at the top for the grommets.

  6. 6

    Use paintbrushes and acrylic paint to paint on top of the pencil lines to complete the scene.

  7. 7

    Let dry for hours until completely dry.

  8. 8

    Cut a section of jute band about six inches wide and the length of the backdrop. Place jute band around the entire length of the top of the backdrop.

  9. 9

    Cut out holes for each grommet around the length of the top of the muslin at 12 inch intervals.

  10. 10

    Place grommets into the holes. Place grommet setter into the top of each grommet. Using a hammer, hammer the top of the grommet setter until each grommet is securely in place.

  11. 11

    For each grommet, cut 12 inch pieces of wire or leftover muslin to use for tie lines. Place wire or muslin through each grommet hole.

  12. 12

    Tie each grommet hole securely to the pipe.

Tips and warnings

  • For a base for backlit backdrops, heat water to a boil and mix in 0.454kg of laundry starch. Once mixed, take the mixture and put it into 1 gallon of cold water. Then take that mixture and mix it into 2 and 1/2 gallons of water. Spray mixture over the entire backdrop and work in with a broom.

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