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How To Make An Artful, Dynamic Backdrop With Kaos Substrate and Projection

Shape, Project and / or Paint on This Uniquely Textured, Firm Surface.

In the words of scenic designers Christopher and Justin Swader, the whimsical production, Crane: On Earth, In Sky, “follows the journey of whooping cranes along their migration cycle and celebrates indigenous cultures around the world that share a spiritual connection to these majestic birds.” The wordless production incorporates puppetry, dance, projections and kites. 


The artful backdrop used for the production, shown in the video above, was made of Kaos substrate. Kaos is a handmade material that has a wonderfully textured, random, and organic quality. Christopher and Justin described their backdrop as “inspired by the organic textures of trees and earth, fabrics of native tribal wear, and the image of webs interconnecting humanity with nature.” To make the backdrop come to life, they projected colored light and imagery onto the Kaos.

Kaos comes in varying thicknesses. Shown

above is Kaos Heavy, FR


One of the challenges in making the backdrop was seaming Kaos into an extra-large single piece, given the vast amount of negative space within the substrate itself. After several seaming trials, the Rose Brand sewing team found that a modified lap seam worked best. It required laying one edge on top of another and top stitching through twice. 


The final backdrop consisted of two Kaos portals with circular cutouts. As Christopher and Justin explained, the portals “suggest the eye of a crane, but when activated with lighting and video, it could also evoke a landscape or sky and immediately shift the sense of perspective and place” throughout the performance.


The Kaos portals were framed by an arched portal made of black Encore velour, which was placed downstage of the Kaos and then attached to it with hook & loop fasteners. The dramatic display created an element of fascination, beauty and depth. 


Go to Rose Brand Custom Fabrication


Go to Kaos Substrate


Notable credits for the production include:

IBEX Puppetry & Martian Entertainment Director: Maija Garcia Co-Created by Heather Henson & Ty Defoe Scenic Designers: Christopher & Justin Swader Costume Designer: Donna Zakowska Lighting Designer: Zach Blane Projection Designer: Kate Freer Puppet Design: The Jim Henson Company Sound Designer: Emma Wilk Backdrop Painting: Cobalt Studios Scenery Constructed by Mind the Gap

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