Typewriter Lights

Monte Bach from Westover Hills Assembly of God in San Antonio, TX brings us this cool vintage typewriter and skypan stage.

From Monte: “Good artists borrow. Great artists steal.” For this stage design, I came to grips with the fact that I am not a great artist, but I am a decent thief.

Every year we host a big women’s conference called Every Woman. This year’s theme was HerStory. We went through many ideas for a stage design with giant books and papers, etc., when we stumbled upon the set design from needtobreathe’s The Reckoning tour. http://fromthephotopit.com/2012/03/06/needtobreathe/

We had some idea of how it was built but through some internet sleuthing, I got in contact with Jay Waddell – the band’s lighting designer – who was very gracious to share what he knew. Jay then put us in touch with Clay Christian who came up with and fabricated the design. They were both so helpful that we had confidence we could pull it off.

There are a lot of differences between the two designs, but the basics are the same. We bought 10-inch clamp work lights and painted the back of each reflector black. The key faces are blank white 10-inch drum heads. This would have been a big cost, but I was able to find a supplier on Alibaba.com at 70 cents per drum head. We printed vinyl decals on a Cricut machine and stuck those on the drum heads (probably the biggest and most unexpected challenge of the project). The drum head ring was the same size as the reflector, so we just attached the head to the reflector with a few pieces of gaff tape. The key rings were custom cut at a local styrofoam fabricator. Since it was open cell foam, we brushed on a product called Styrospray 1000 to fill in and smooth the surface a little bit before spray painting with metallic silver spray paint. The rings were a tight fit over the drum head, so we didn’t need to attach any further.

We used 100W equivalent soft white LED bulbs in the fixture to mitigate any trapped heat issues. Our project manager built three stands, with four rows on each stand that would hold four clamp lights in each row. We had a lot of leftover dimmer packs from converting our key lights to LED recently, so our tech director plugged as many individual keys into dimmers as he could, and plugged groups into power strips attached to a single dimmer pack. We also used a LOT of zip ties – to secure the clamp to the 1×2 rows, and to keep the lamp socket from tilting downward.

With our wide stage, we were concerned about the dead space on either side of the typewriter, so we put our copying skills to good use again by building skypans using Vous Church’s instructions http://blog.vouschurch.com/build-your-own-skypan-lights/

The warm light created by running those at less than 100% intensity nicely matched the color temperature of the typewriter keys.

There are some things we might do differently, but overall, we’re really pleased with the look we ended up with.

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