What Materials are needed for Punch Scenery?


Artists' Canvas can be bought in many sizes and qualities - a fairly smooth one should be chosen. It needs to be properly primed - and that is true for all scenic materials. Calico is also suitable. Linen sheeting can also be used. Prime the canvas first with Glue Size, and allow to dry thoroughly. You can use poster colours, artists oils or acrylics. Poster colours are surprisingly long lasting (I have marionette theatre backcloths done in poster and still in use after 40 years) but will not stand getting wet. Therefore if you do outdoor shows then use oil colours or acrylics. In either case don't put the paint on too thickly. Oil colours take a long time to dry thoroughly (6 months!) so if you are impatient then acrylics are the answer. For economy you can use emulsion paint for basic washes (walls, sky, grass etc) and emulsion can be tinted with acrylic colours.
See-through backcloths for "hands in front of face" performers are a different technique altogether. Here you need to find a muslin, scrim or gauze which allows you to see through it when held up to the light. There are many suitable materials, and it is a case for experiment. When it comes to painting it is more a question of staining the fibres rather than covering with a layer of pigment which would clog the fibres and so make the cloth opaque. Acrilycs, well thinned with medium, can be used succesfully, as can various kinds of fabric paints and dyes.
The real success of see-through backcloths depends upon how well you restrict the light. All the light must come from the front, none from behind. This often means lining the inside of your booth cover at the top, back and upper sides since many booth coverings are not completely lightproof.

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