Stained Glass Rays Set Design - October 2, 2015

Stained Glass Rays

Easter Set 2014

Easter Set 2014

The latest set design at Calvary Church was more of a solution to a problem more than it was trying to make an amazing set.  You see, I have been working at the church full-time for 2 years, and as a former touring Lighting Director, I knew immediately that my nemesis in our auditorium was the stained glass window, which resided upstage center and was akin to the all-seeing eye from Lord of the Rings in regard to it's illiuminative properties.  So, one of the first things I did was to discretely install some plexiglass panels in front of the window with 68% window tint on them to dumb down Sauron's gaze of 8900K in my room.   The other thing I did was get in a habit of building sets that blocked the cross and stained glass window. 

This habit did not endear me to some, the Seasoned Saints in particular.

So, when it came time to transition sets, (we do about 3 a year) I joked with my worship director that we should just build some lightboxes shaped like arrows pointing at the cross.  That's when the lightning hit me right in the brain parts; Stained glass windows, that are coming from the stained glass window! 

With every set, the first thing I do is sit in the middle of the room and stare at the stage.  I think about anything that could possibly exist as a set, without regard for budget, rigging limitations, cost, or intricacy.  When I get the idea, I go straight to Adobe Photoshop and edit my blank picture.  Then, I measure the space based on the picture and the design. 

In this case, I measured the size of the rays based on the amount of stained glass window designs I would need. 

So, the biggest one is 16 ft long, 3 ft at the bottom and 1 ft at the top.  That way, 1 4x8 piece of plywood design would cover a beam.  Then, I made a 4"x8" stained glass outline out of some windows I found online in Adobe Illustrator.  I turned them into vector designs, and sent them to my friend Vince over at Dust Furniture, who has a C&C table saw that cut the designs on 4x8 sheets of particle board.  I lightly sprayed them with flat black spray paint; 1 can does 2 sheets.

The frames of the beams are made of 2x2's - 2x4's table sawed down the middle. We made the left side of the stage, then laid the lumber for the right side right on top and screwed it into place.  Perfect symmetry. 

I got a little busy, so there aren't great pictures for some of this, but just stay with me.  We table sawed 190 linear ft of 45 degree lumber.  You can get 4 out of a 2x4.  Finish nail them on the back of your frame, and then attach the LED tape to the 45's with Cable staples.

Leave all the tails to your led tape on the ground.  Separate the RGB and power lines, tin the ends, and using 22/4 security cable and either butt splices or terminal blocks, extend cables away from the frame.  These will attach to your DMX encoder.  The power supply needs to connect to the encoder, and then the cable whips connect to the encoder.  *NOTE* Use ring terminals to connect your power to your power supply, and from the supply to your encoder, and sleep better at night.


I had some 1/32 polypropylene sheets left over from a previous set that I got from US Plastics in Lima, OH.  Those are on the front of the frames.  Next, you need some colored cellophane from Hobby Lobby.  I cut it into random squares and attached it with 3M spray adhesive #90.  I overlapped them in spots to get even more colors.  I bought the richest colors they had; red, blue, green, yellow, magenta, and green.  Spray the glue right on the poly and slap them on.  Also, don't be weird; wear a mask with spray adhesive.  Once you have your LED tape on, and adhesive done, take some Tyvek home wrap, or equivalent, and staple it on the back.  The LED's are going to hit that wrap and diffuse in a way that is going to make you start singing Christian songs.

Next is the best part.  We took the 4x8 particle board, and slapped it on the front of the ray.  We packing-taped the 90 degree angle, circular sawed off the angle, and put remainder on the top of the ray.  Almost no scrap!  We gaff taped over the edge so you don't see the tyvek from the side.

Then. we stood them up in place, and screwed them to the floor.  They are kept from tipping forward or backward with mason line, painted the same color as the back wall, so they look like they are floating. 

Safety Nerds:  Home wrap has an average ignition point of 300 degrees fahrenheit.  Mason line can hold a cinderblock suspended, so 3 points is plenty.  The power supply should be mounted on a piece of plywood with sheet metal stapled to it as a heatsink to be extra safe.  With this load, I haven't noticed heat problems though.




One more item.  Remember that DMX encoder?  Well, it worked awesome for me, but if you are a newbie, look up which ports the DMX cables are inserted in, and which is the in, and which is the out.  Also, one of my analog dipswitches was bad, so you might need to fool with it.  I made a custom RGB profile on the console, which is ENTTEC Lightfactory, a super non-complicated, yet reliable computer-to-dongle console. 

That's it!  Email me at if you have questions.