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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have read that many people have started down this DIY screen route by using black-out cloth attached to wooden frame. I have also noted that those who choose this option often experience the problem of the fabric sagging over time and having to retension or rebuild.


I've been surprised that no one has mentioned an old 'theater' trick to create a lightweight, portable and long lasting DIY screen.


We used to create scenery flats by covering a frame with muslin fabric and then using liquid starch (called sizing) to shrink and stiffen the attached muslin. After drying, the muslin was perfectly smooth and tight as a drum (as a matter of fact we made a drum using this technique for one production). The sizing also seals the fabric so from here you could paint the fabric with your choice of paint (ME, dDog, MM, etc.).


We even made some double sided flats for 'quick changes' by stapling the overlapping muslin into the edge of the frame rather than wrapping it around to the back (imagine a screen that could could have two distinct paint surfaces depending on the mood and environment).


This appears to have all of the benefits of a light weight, portable BO cloth screen without the tendency to wrinkle or sag AND with the benefit of being able to painted and customized to ones projector.


Has anyone tried this technique for a PJ screen?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I'm not familiar with the 'sizing' material you're referring to, but what we used was actually Argo laundry starch. Mixed in a bucket and applied with paint roller. When dry, you couldn't tell that anything had been applied to the muslin fabric, just a smooth, tight surface.


I might add that if muslin is used, it would have to painted to make a suitable screen. Muslin has sort of an oatmeal color to it (unbleached cotton). Not a good PJ screen color I would think.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by MSwauger
I have read that many people have started down this DIY screen route by using black-out cloth attached to wooden frame. I have also noted that those who choose this option often experience the problem of the fabric sagging over time and having to retension or rebuild.


I've been surprised that no one has mentioned an old 'theater' trick to create a lightweight, portable and long lasting DIY screen.


We used to create scenery flats by covering a frame with muslin fabric and then using liquid starch (called sizing) to shrink and stiffen the attached muslin. After drying, the muslin was perfectly smooth and tight as a drum (as a matter of fact we made a drum using this technique for one production). The sizing also seals the fabric so from here you could paint the fabric with your choice of paint (ME, dDog, MM, etc.).


We even made some double sided flats for 'quick changes' by stapling the overlapping muslin into the edge of the frame rather than wrapping it around to the back (imagine a screen that could could have two distinct paint surfaces depending on the mood and environment).


This appears to have all of the benefits of a light weight, portable BO cloth screen without the tendency to wrinkle or sag AND with the benefit of being able to painted and customized to ones projector.


Has anyone tried this technique for a PJ screen?
No I haven't tried it, but this is and excellent example of "old methods"

made new again. So much is lost with the progression of time and

common practice, that anything that can preserve "the old ways" is

welcome addition to the new digital world.


b2b
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
In doing a little more research into the muslin idea, I discovered another big plus to using this material - widths available.


One website alone has this material in 44, 60, 76, 84, 120 and 140 inch widths.
 

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Very interesting thread. I am just about to build a BO screen and

think this could be a better solution.


Thanks
 

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MSwauger,


Couple of questions.


How much liquid starch do you use?


After sizing would you recommend priming the surface white or

painting directly with ME, dDog etc?


Thanks....
 

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I don't think everybody is on the same page here. "Blackout Cloth" is drapery lining intended to darken a room. It is completely watertight on one side which has a multi-layer plastic coating. The middle layer is Carbon Black which is why it darkens the room. The black layer is sandwiched between two white or off-white plastic films, and the whole thing is fused with heat to a woven cloth backing.


The original purpose is lining for expensive draperies, and the absorptive carbon black layer and the plastic waterproofing both protect the expensive drapery fabric from sun and rain from an open window. (The wife enlightened me a couple of years ago - she sews.)


When you build a screen from this you can either paint the cloth side (start with a primer coat, and use a roller) or alternatively use the plastic side as the unpainted finished layer (hopefully you got the white version). Either way, you build a stout frame (I used 1X3 fir) and staple the blackout cloth on under tremendous tension, as hard as you can pull - if you have weak fingers, get the flat pliers used to stretch artist's canvas. In fact, the stretching technique is exactly the same as used for artist's canvas.


Done properly, there is no sag, ever. In each case whenever I see homemade screen sag, I have found the frame material either undersized (1X2's) or made of a soft wood like pine.


In any case, sizing would have no effect on completely waterproof blackout cloth (even the cloth is strong, non-absorptive artificial fibers) - nor would muslin be nearly as good as this tough material for use as a screen. Muslin has too much texture and is not white enough. You all are chasing a problem that just does not exist in a properly constructed DIY blackout cloth screen.


Gary
 

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Gary,


Thanks for the reply. I am back and forth on this issue. Just about to

build my own DIY screen and am learning a lot from this board. Of course

I am now leaning towards the BO cloth again. One mistake that I would have made prior to reading your post is using 1x2's. I will definitely use 1x3's.


Thanks........
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by Stallion
MSwauger,


Couple of questions.


How much liquid bleach do you use?


After sizing would you recommend priming the surface white or

painting directly with ME, dDog etc?


Thanks....
He said starch, not bleach. :)


Bleach would dissolve the Muslin (well it at least ate through a pair of Levis back when I was 14).


I think Blackout cloth would be better unless you want to build a screen that is taller than ... what ... 54-57 inches? Does anyone know where you can get BO cloth wider than that?
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Quote:
Originally posted by Gary McCoy
In any case, sizing would have no effect on completely waterproof blackout cloth (even the cloth is strong, non-absorptive artificial fibers) - nor would muslin be nearly as good as this tough material for use as a screen. Muslin has too much texture and is not white enough. You all are chasing a problem that just does not exist in a properly constructed DIY blackout cloth screen.
It is true that sizing would have no effect on black out cloth. I guess I should have mentioned that. With this method you can use any 100% cotton, NON-PRESHRUNK fabric and achieve the same or similar result.


I did mention in an earlier post that muslin would almost certainly have to painted as it has sort of an oatmeal color, but the pieces I have do not have a texture that I can feel that would have any adverse effect on the screen.


I am not trying to depose or debunck BO cloth as the material of choice for a DIY screen but, as my title suggests, offer an alternative that may appeal to some.


Stallion:


We would mix the the starch in a bucket and 'paint' it on the muslin with rollers until the fabric was saturated. Here are some recommendations I found while researching:


(1) Slowly and continuously stir a 1 lb. box of Argo Starch into ½ gallon of cold water.

(2) Boil 3½ gallons of water in a large pot.

(3) Slowly stir the cold starch mixture into the boiling pot.

(4) Return the combined mixure to boiling, then remove from heat.


You can use the sizing mixture in either of 2 ways:


(1) For opaque drops*:

Strain the mixture and use it warm. This will soak through the muslin.

(2) For translucent drops*:

Cool the mixture; strain it and apply to the drop*. This will sit on top of the muslin.

* DROP is a stage term that refers to scenery flat that is 'dropped' on stage by wires to make scene changes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Quote:
Originally posted by Stallion
After sizing would you recommend priming the surface white or

painting directly with ME, dDog etc?


Thanks....
We never primed the flats, but that doesn't mean you couldn't if you wanted to.


For a screen, I think I would recommend priming. As has been proven time and again on this board, paint is only 'semi'-opaque. Could the oatmeal color of the fabric affect your image? Possibly. That is why I would recommend priming.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Quote:
Originally posted by MSwauger
We would mix the the starch in a bucket and 'paint' it on the muslin with rollers until the fabric was saturated. Here are some recommendations I found while researching:


(1) Slowly and continuously stir a 1 lb. box of Argo Starch into ½ gallon of cold water.

(2) Boil 3½ gallons of water in a large pot.

(3) Slowly stir the cold starch mixture into the boiling pot.

(4) Return the combined mixure to boiling, then remove from heat.


You can use the sizing mixture in either of 2 ways:


(1) For opaque drops*:

Strain the mixture and use it warm. This will soak through the muslin.

(2) For translucent drops*:

Cool the mixture; strain it and apply to the drop*. This will sit on top of the muslin.
Please note - 4 gallons of liquid starch is maximum overkill for 1 PJ screen. At most you would need 1/4 of that recipe . Adjust the measurements accordingly.
 
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