How To Use Various Netting and Gauze Fabrics in Scenic Design
Updated: Feb 19, 2021
Create the desired netting effect using these fabrics
Scenic designers use Netting and Gauze fabrics in combination with other scenery and lighting to create visual illusions and spatial depth. The transparency of netting and the translucency of gauze make these fabrics particularly well suited for these effects. The following describes the characteristics of various nettings and gauzes and how you might use them to best effect.
In general, the term Netting refers to materials that are used to add structure and add support to fabrics that are too flimsy on their own, or have been cut to a shape that will flop down without added support. In this context it is desirable to have the supporting fabric transmit as much light as possible. The supporting fabric needs to be, in effect, transparent and “invisible.”
1x1 Scenery Netting is used to hold the shape of cut drops with under cut profiled shapes, such as foliage on branches. The Scenery Netting is made with very light weight threads that, when used and lit in the proper context will not be apparent to the viewer.
13’3” Scenery Netting has heavier threads and a tighter grid pattern. While not as transparent as the 1x1, it is more durable. This is a good option for a cut drop that will be handled many times on a tour or in repertory situation.
Tiger Gauze is a strong netting material with a relatively tight yet pliable pattern. Even less transparent than scenery net, but great for cut drops with intricate patterns cut from heavy base fabrics. Also, Tiger Gauze has great durability to stand up to handling.
Kenny Net is excellent for out door use. Its ½” grid provides a very open, yet stable base to support a large variety of applied materials. It comes 14ft wide in Black. LED lights can be attached to produce an amazing see-through Animation Curtain or Star Drop.
XNET is an IFR synthetic netting that is sturdy and stable. It’s a 1/8" square weave netting that is color fast and UV resistant making it great for lighting effects indoors or out. It has become a standard for trade show booth ceilings. It’s 16’5” wide, in White, Black and Contrast grey. This fabric is more translucent than transparent, but can be a good netting choice to support intricate patterns.
The term Gauze is generally used to describe fabrics that diffuse light. Gauze fabrics are translucent. When there is no light on the gauze, or in front of the gauze, lit objects behind the gauze are visible. The gauze obscures the lit objects slightly so the image is softened. The objects can appear to be more distant.
Scrim and bobbinette fabrics are used as full stage, seamless light diffusers. Each type of scrim and bobbinette has its own unique characteristics that come from the size of the thread and the pattern of the weave.
Sharkstooth Scrim is a type of gauze. It’s woven to create a loose rectangular grid pattern. When steeply front lit with no light behind, a sharks tooth scrim will appear opaque. Lit objects behind are visible. Sharkstooth is woven very wide, up to 39 ft. wide. Read more on “How to Light a Sharkstooth Scrim” on the Rose Brand blog.
Bobbinette “A” and “B” can be used in a similar fashion as Scrim, but the weave is much more open and will not appear as opaque as Sharkstooth when front lit. Weave “A” and “B” have a hex shaped opening. They are very transparent and are useful for adding atmosphere and depth to a scene. Weave “A” is lighter than Weave “B”. Both are prone to stretching due to the nature of the hex weave.
Bobbinette Weave “C” does not have the hex shaped opening of “A” and “B”. The pattern looks more like a series of alternating triangles in parallel rows. This pattern is less likely to stretch. The threads used in the construction of Weave “C” are heavier than “A” and “B”, so it performs better as an opaque, front lit drop.
Transnet is a new product that has a weave similar to Weave “C”, but the threads are lighter. Transnet is nearly as translucent as Weave “A’”, but it is much less prone to stretching and hour-glassing. It’s made from cotton and treated to be FR. Available in White and Black at 39’wide.
Square Gauze is also suitable for use as a full stage drop. It’s wide, 35ft. It can be used in close combination with Sharkstooth Scrim or Bobbinette without creating the moiré effect that can result when identical open-weave fabrics are doubled up.
XNET, described above in the netting section, is a viable gauze option as well. It’s not as wide as the others but it is strong and durable. It‘s very resistant to hour glassing and has similar translucency as Weave “A”. It is only available at 16’-5” wide.
Fine Gauze is available in wide widths too, up to 32’-9”. The weave is much tighter than the other wide fabrics, and the threads are more delicate. The tight weave makes it good for use as a front lit opaque drop and a seamless back lit translucency. It is not transparent.
Narrow gauze fabrics, such as Linen Gauze (55”w), Fine Gauze (from 9’9” to 32’9” w), Theatrical Gauze (72”w), and Cotton Scrim (54”w) are useful for curtains and draperies that can be built with multiple widths of fabric. The fabrics are seamed vertically and when built with fullness the seams are less apparent to the viewer. Gauze fabrics can be used to make sheer curtains that play in combination with heavier curtains in windows and French doors. Sheer curtains allow the transmission of soft light into a space while providing a level of privacy in the space.
Gauze fabrics can be layered on top of each other or heavier fabrics to create interesting combinations of color and texture. Different effects can be achieved by varying fullness as well.
Gauze fabrics can be laid up flat over each other on hard surfaces to create patterns of color, translucency and texture.