Russell Peter LLoyd from St Hilary’s Anglican Church in Kew, Victoria, Australia brings us this beautiful marquee sign for their stage.

The stage design for this year’s Christmas services at St Hilary’s was intended to challenge people to consider the ‘real’ Christmas, to help contextualise the birth of Jesus and lead people to a fuller understanding and experience of the joy of Christmas.

Set upon a backdrop of chain link fences and barbed wire (modern day symbols of injustice, oppression, and captivity) the image of joy (with all the sparkle of Christmas) was far more pronounced.

The Fence:
They looked at a few options for rigging the chain link fence but due to the age of the building and the lack of any existing rigging, they opted to mount a 7.5m span of aluminium tri-truss on two 16ft tower lifters.

Two 10m rolls of 1.8m high fencing were used.

The end of the two rolls were simply cable tied to the truss, starting at the center and the truss winched up to it’s final height, unrolling the fencing as they went. The rolls were then cut at stage level, before the truss was brought back down to repeat the process with the remaining halves of the two rolls.

The barbed wire was looped, and attached to itself, to provide a bit of structure and height, then attached to the top of the fencing with netting clips.

The Sign:
The Joy sign was designed in Illustrator and transferred to two full sheets of 12mm MDF using the grid method then cut out with a jigsaw. Holes for the lights were marked up by eye then drilled out using a hole saw. The two sections of the sign were joined by glueing and screwing another piece of 12mm MDF along the join.

The sign was then sanded, primed with MDF primer the painted first with high gloss red enamel followed by red glitter spray, because Christmas.

Standard 10m/10 socket 240v festoons were inserted from behind, and screwed to the back of the sign with small spacers (cut from the leftover MDF) used to keep the fittings straight and avoid crushing the cable. Excess cable was simply gaffered to the backside of the sign. A mix of 25w and 40w clear “fancy round” globes were used. Russell went with incandescent globes so they could dim the sign, and clear globes for the extra sparkle, which made sourcing the globes a bit time consuming. (Most filament globes have been banned in Australia as they are not energy efficient and their halogen replacements just don’t have the same effect.)

Extra blocks of MDF (again from offcuts) were screwed and glued to the back of the sign, to which 5mm eye plates were attached as rigging points. The sign was then hung from the truss using 3mm wire rope and power run up from the floor behind the fencing.

The church owns a huge amount of black fabric which was hung across the back walls to help the fencing stand out and cover the words “Risen Lord” and “Ascended King” which were permanently fixed to the wall. The fabric also rendered the lifters and power running to the sign far less visible.

All up the sign took about 16 hours to make, with the fencing and installation taking another 12 hours, though it was mostly done by one person.

2 x 1200mmx2400mm sheets of 12mm MDF
8 x 10m 240v Festoon (re-used from previous events)
77 x 25w Fancy round light globe – clear (re-used from previous events)
1 x 8way power board
1 x 1lt tin of MDF primer
3 x 340g cans Rustoleum 2x Ultra Cover “Gloss Red Apple”
3 x 340g cans Rustoleum Glitter – Red

2 x 16ft Winch up towers
2 x Truss forks
2 x 3m Aluminium Tri-Truss
1 x 1m Aluminium Tri-Truss
2 x 10m rolls 1.8m cyclone mesh fencing
1 x 30m roll Barbed wire
25 x Heavy duty cable ties – clear
50 x Netting clips

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