Rose Brand Know-How Blog

Entertainment & event production tips, news & stories

Community Spotlight: NewArts: Newtown Musicals

Art has long been a form of healing. After the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting on December 14, 2012 in Newtown, Connecticut, community members turned to the arts once again to help students cope with the tragedy. Community members knew the power of the performing arts in providing a powerful avenue for self-expression. And thus 12.14 Foundation and its performing arts division, NewArts: Newtown Musicals was born. The organization’s goal is to use performance pieces to help students gain confidence in a safe and nurturing environment and increase their overall understanding of themselves and how they interact with the world. 

12.14 Foundation has completed five large scale musicals, three of which involved the assistance of Broadway talent and Rose Brand materials and supplies. More...

3 Common Uses for Masking Fabrics

Our customers use masking fabrics in numerous ways, not the least of which is to absorb light and to hide walls, equipment and performers. Some additional uses are described below. In most cases, it's important that the masking fabric be opaque so that it acts as a good barrier to light and / or sound. 

Managing Sound*

Masking fabric is often used to cover the walls of black box theatres.  However, since walls are flat, hard and parallel to each other, sound waves can bounce back and forth, causing reverberation. To avoid this, use at least 2 layers of heavy flat masking fabric with several inches of space in between. The air space in between serves to trap the sound that goes through the first layer of fabric. Another method is to use curtains with fullness (instead of flat curtains) to cover the walls. A heavyweight fabric, such as Rose Brand 25oz Memorable Velour, with fullness hung in, works well. The irregular folds in the fabric disperse the sound waves and the mass of the material absorbs some of the energy. 

Both of these solutions can be accomplished easily by tying the fabric to pipes mounted from the ceiling, or installing the fabric on a pair of parallel traveler tracks suspended in front of the walls of the theatre.  Traveler tracks allow for adjustment and provide possible storage positions when the masking is not in use.

* Rose Brand recently tested the acoustical performance of eight of our most popular masking fabrics. Results for the medium weight 12oz Brava up to the heavy 32oz Royale are available in the Rose Brand Catalog and on the website.

Theatre / Arena Reduction Curtains

If a theatre has fixed seating areas that are not being used for a particular production, masking can be used to cordon off the area. Fabric panels can be hung from suspended pipes or tracks that are hung in front of the seats to be hidden. Pipe and Base 2.0 systems are also available and allow for very versatile placement of the masking. The Pipe and Base system is ground supported and can be set up and moved as needed.  

Transforming Theatre Spaces

An ordinary black box space can be reconfigured to a theater in the round space with the use of masking fabrics. Let’s consider a rectangular black box space with galleries around the perimeter. When configured in the round, masking is generally used to cover the walls of the theatre and to provide passages for actors and crew. This can be done by tying the masking to the railing of the galleries or the masking can be hung from traveler tracks on the galleries. The traveler option provides more immediate flexibility when changing the space from a proscenium or thrust configuration, to a round setup.

A Selection of Masking Fabrics Available from Rose Brand

Most Requested: 22oz Encore IFR

Broadest Color Selection: 21oz Marvel FR

Best Overall Sound Absorption: 25oz Memorable FR

Most Economical Solutions: Commando Cloth FR and Duvetyn FR

Durability for Long Term Installations: 30oz Wool Serge IFR

Complementary Products

Heat Borders


Pipe and Base 2.0


Beautiful Effects With Jacquard Fabric

Jacquard fabrication allows a designer to create fabric with intricate custom patterns and imagery at a small required minimum yardage. With Jacquard, your custom artwork is not printed, but digitally woven into the fabric itself. The result is a deeper textured look and feel than ordinary fabric printing can produce. With Jacquard, several color shades can be combined in various fabric densities, resulting in areas ranging from sheer to opaque in a spectrum of tones.

The James Taylor 2014 tour used a Rose Brand® custom Jacquard curtain for a fabulous backdrop. This piece combined a light grey, sheer pattern with a dark grey, opaque pattern that lit beautifully from the front and back. In the photo up top, the grey fabric took on the colors of the lighting used.    

Interested in learning more? Call Rose Brand customer service at 800-223-1624.

Jacquard Fabric


High Performance, Cost Effective Fabric Projection Screens

See projection artist Ross Ashton's FANTASTIC sound & light show, celebrating Dartmouth College's Hopkins Center for the Arts 50th anniversary. The front of the Hopkins Center features several enormous arched windows, each of which was covered with a Rose Brand Tendo fabric projection screen and attached to the steel window frame via Rose Brand ClikMagnets.

Tendo fabric provides for an exceptional projection screen. It's highly reflective, lights evenly and cost effective. It's also stretchable and lightweight, making it much easier to install than traditional vinyl screens. Wrinkles simply stretch away. The lightweight aspect of the fabric enabled installation onto the steel window frames with our convenient ClikMagnet product. If you'd like to read more about how the effects for this event were achieved, the projectors used, etc. please see the article that appears on the Live Design blog.


Art of The Event, Inc. Transforms Hotel Ballroom Into Perfect Holiday Environment for Corporate Party

Art of The Event, a Boston based full service event design, decor and planning company, was the winner of our 2012 Holiday Party Photo Contest. Here's their description of how they transformed an ordinary hotel ballroom into the perfect environment to achieve their client's objectives.

Our client scheduled their holiday party at Boston’s Liberty Hotel, a chic, modern venue that has a lot of local flavor. Once the Charles Street Jail, there are wrought iron, spiral stairs, bars on the windows, and exposed brick walls.  The grand ballroom is a contemporary space, with 3000 square feet of space, floor to ceiling windows, and wrought iron chandeliers. Art of the Event was asked to transform this space into a “Clubby Winter Wonderland” and gleefully took on the task.

With nearly a full room wrap of luxurious white sheers, we created texture and movement in the space. Blue up-lighting set the tone of a modern club, with white snowflake projections creating a snowfall effect. This combination of elements really set the mood, as the sheers took it the light effects and grabbed the light. The center piece of the room was a shining white dance floor, and just off of that our contemporary, serpentine white couch set.  White glow side tables and low cocktails broke up the room, adding layers of height. Our cocktail-height share tables were a delightful focal point in the corners of the room, and are dining room sized with mirror top, accented with elegant white florals and surrounded by clear, Lucite bar stools. Our white paneled glow bar, in front of the dance floor was a crowd pleaser, at 14 feet long and with functional barback.

This event was a success, with the client’s staff dancing the night away and their company president praising the ambiance we created. It was a pleasure working with their team, as well as the Liberty event staff, and we’re looking forward to the next holiday season, and all the transformations we can bring!

Rose Brand Constructs the Largest Compound Curved Indoor Screen Ever Created for Beyonce's Humanitarian Day Performance

On August 10, 2012 special guests of the United Nations filled the General Assembly Hall in New York to celebrate World Humanitarian Day. This day honors the humanitarian efforts that take place across the globe and seeks to motivate active participation in social causes. During the event, Beyoncé inspired the crowd with a performance in front of projected images of humanitarians working and helping those in need. At the request of the SuperUber design company, Rose Brand developed the projection screen for the event, the largest compound curved indoor screen ever created.

The 1,000 pound, 46’ high x 224’ wide screen was pieced together in Rose Brand’s NJ warehouse by a team of sewers who worked around the clock for two days due to the urgency of the task. Once hung, the screen molded to the unique architecture of the General Assembly Hall. Building a screen of this magnitude, in a room that was not designed for theatrical lighting projections, made the choice of screen fabric particularly important. SuperUber chose the white/white blackout lining after testing a number of fabrics, due to its opaque characteristics. It insured that light would not transmit behind the screen, and it created a flawless projection surface.

After fabricating and transporting the massive screen to the UN, Rose Brand provided a complete rigging package and installation service with the help of the Local 1 Stagehands. Due to the lack of rigging points, permanent steel plates had to be welded into the existing structure in order to support the weight of the 6,000 pound supergrid system. Once installed, the screen was comprised of ten synchronized and mapped projections that created one giant image. The screen surrounded the audience with a 240 degree immersive projection, creating an unforgettable and inspirational experience for those in attendance.


Learn more about Rose Brand's Projection Solutions.

View behind the scenes photos on our Facebook Page.

How to Specify a Stage Curtain to Obtain a Cost Estimate (Part 1)

You don't have to know every detail of your Stage Curtain to get a reliable budget estimate. Part 1 of this series of articles, on specifying curtains for an estimate, covers the most important factors that affect the cost of the Main Stage Curtain: Fabric, Dimensions and Fullness.

Stage Curtains break down into several categories. Main Curtain, Main Valance, Legs, Borders, Tabs, Blackout Drops, Mid-stage Travelers, rear Travelers, Scrims, and Cycloramas.

The curtains on a stage play many roles, mostly to create illusions. Cycloramas bounce light and projections. Scrims bounce light, create depth and then become "invisible" to allow the upstage scene to "bleed through" for the audience (see our blog article on Scrim). Legs, Borders, Tabs, Blackout Drops, Mid and Rear Travelers are called the Masking. Their role is to block and absorb light and disappear.

The Main Curtain, sometimes called the Grand Drape, is intended to create an impression, not an illusion. First impressions are important, and when an audience enters the theatre all eyes go to the Main Curtain.

Choosing the Fabric

Cotton Velour

Main Curtains are usually made of heavyweight Velour, a pile fabric which creates a plush rich look when lit. For many years the standard stage curtains have been Cotton Velour. If the budget will allow, it's best to use25 oz Memorable or 25 oz Majestic. The Memorable has a deeper pile; the Majestic has a shorter but denser pile. 21 oz velour could be used for the main curtain, but the savings are not substantial enough to warrant diminishing the look and durability of this star of the stage curtain show. Savings can be made elsewhere in the specification as we'll see when we look at the trade-offs involved with lined vs. unlined, fullness, and masking fabric choices.

The most popular colors are deep reds, plums, wines, through purples and dark blues. Wine is the single most popular color. Light colors are not advisable for permanent curtains because of the expense and difficulty of cleaning, as well as the lighting challenges they present for incoming productions.

Synthetic Velour

In the past decade, the quality of synthetic velour has steadily improved, making it a reasonable and sometimes preferable choice for a Main Curtain. Some synthetic velour is more expensive than natural velour. So why use a synthetic? The synthetics are IFR (Inherently Flame Retardant) or DFR (Durably Flame Retardant), meaning that that they are permanently flame retardant. Cotton velour must be tested for Flame Retardancy every five years or so and could possibly require re-treatment. The cottons are treated with a FR compound that is water soluble. If the cotton curtains get wet or are subject to fluctuations in humidity and condensation, the compounds could come out of solution causing discoloration. Usually when a cotton velour curtain gets wet it cannot be salvaged.

Among the premium synthetic velours, it’s best to use 27 oz Charisma or 26 oz Prestige fabrics if the budget will allow. Charisma is matte while Prestige has a shiny look. 20 oz Crescent or 13 oz Apollo are also matte and would provide some savings. A popular choice for elementary, middle and high schools is IFR 22 oz Encore. Encore is a knitted, brushed suede that is highly durable and ideal for high humidity environments and multi-use "cafetoriums ".

Main Curtain Lining

To line or not to line? Linings serve two major functions: to block light bleed from upstage when the face fabric is not opaque and to protect the back of the curtain from damage. It’s always best to line the Main Curtain for protection but when budgets are tight, some of the heavier fabrics can live without it.

   Cotton Velour Lining Guide

          25 oz Memorable -- lining preferred

          25 oz Majestic -- lining preferred

          21 oz Marvel -- lining required

          21 oz Virtue -- lining required

    Synthetic Velour Lining Guide

          27 oz Charisma -- lining preferred

          26 oz Prestige -- lining required

          20 oz Crescent -- lining required

          13 oz Apollo -- lining required

          22 oz Encore -- lining preferred

Dimension and Fullness in the Main Traveler Curtain

In general, the larger the curtain dimensions, the greater the cost of the curtain. However, how you specify the "fullness" of a curtain can also significantly change the amount of fabric that’s needed. Fullness is the extra fabric used to create the folds in a curtain. In the theatrical field, we speak of fullness as the added percentage of width pleated into the curtain. A flat curtain is 0% fullness. 50% fullness is half again as much added. For example a 30’ wide curtain with 50% fullness, would start out at 45’ wide and be pleated into the finished width. When specifying fullness, always refer to the finished width of the curtain. How much fabric needs to be added will be understood from the fullness percentage. (See our animated demonstration of fullness.)

The optimal fullness for a Main Curtain is 100% (2x the width pleated in), 75% will work, and 50% is adequate if that’s all that the budget will allow. A flat Main Curtain is not recommended.

The next article in this series will cover specifications for the top, bottom and side finishes of a curtain. If you’d like additional information about stage curtains, fabrics and more please go toRose Brand Custom Stage Curtains & Drapery.

For a quote on a custom stage curtain or any other custom sewing order, please see our online quote requestapplication, or you may email us at, or call us at 800-223-1624.