We created this set for a 12-week series I wrote this year called Let’s Glow. It will be available for you to purchase next week! This set design would also be great for anyone doing a glow in the dark or blacklight theme in your services or for an event. Let’s Glow teaches kids to be a light in the world from the examples of the early apostles in the book of Acts.
The majority of the cost for this set design was poster board and UV-reactive tape. We already had the LED tape we needed and the blacklights on hand, but I will link what we have purchased in the past for reference. The blacklights we used work incredibly well, give a great glow in a large room, and are actually affordable. Note: If you’re wanting to connect them to a lighting system, they are not DMX capable. We used four of them in our main elementary space and one in our smaller 1st-2nd grade room. My inspiration for this set design and series was everything glow-in-the-dark, blacklight, and a little bit of science. For this series, we really went all out because it was the kick off series for the new year. We decked out our stage, changed up our screen (more on that later), and utilized the permanent “screens”around the room in a fresh way. We also created a smaller portable set design for our 1st-2nd grade room which is set up and torn down each week, since that room was a shared space
Let’s talk about what we did to change up our large white screen for this series. You may have noticed this same triangle design on the screen in the Are We There Yet Set Design post, but we didn’t go into detail on how we made the projection work in that post. If you look closely, it’s the exact same screen as we have always had (16′ by 9′), but for these two series’, we flipped it around, so the white “screen part” is actually facing the wall instead of the audience. The triangles are cut out of white poster board and the center screen is a 4′ by 8′ piece of white foam board from Lowes. It is not normally white, but the silver coating is relatively easy to remove. We used gorilla tape to anchor the triangles to the screen and fishing line to hang the foam board from the truss above. The technical magic that went into getting motion backgrounds on the triangles and the actual “slides” in the center was done by using props in ProPresenter. If you want the nitty gritty details, please feel free to reach out on our website, as it’s probably a bit too technical to completely describe here, but there is a great video by Paul Allen Clifford on Using Props in ProPresenter. We were able to use the “masking” feature in ProPresenter to “black out” the part of the screen that was not covered by the foam board or the triangles so there isn’t any image bleed.
We had a lot of fun creating our main stage design for this series. We used 36-inch square dowel rods (purchased at Hobby Lobby) to create the large lighted X’s. We screwed them into wooden bases and attached LED tape to them. We used four rolls because the distance between the X’s was far enough that we needed the extra length (and we didn’t want to deal with splicing the LED tape wires), but if they were closer together you could get two X’s done with one roll of LED tape. We also created a temporary laboratory for Dr. Farfelbart, an eccentric scientist character from the curriculum series, in the center of the stage. We used science-like items and lamps we found in the attic to create his lab table. Think items like test tubes, flasks, clear containers filled with colored water, lava lamp/fun lights, black rubber gloves, safety glasses, etc. All of our skits took place with Dr. Farfelbart behind his lab table.
The wall art for this series was a little different than what we’d done in the past, but it’s super simple and doable for anyone and it’s even great for shared spaces or set up/tear down situations. We took the 4×4 “screens” we have on the walls around our main kid’s room and decorated them instead of projecting on them. The “screens” are just 4×8 white foam sheets (bought at Home Depot or Lowes) cut in half and framed with black electrical tape. We bought neon poster board in as many colors as we could find and cut it into fun shapes (triangles, circles, squares, squiggly lines, and straight lines). To add even more color, we added small strips of UV-reactive tape to the larger shapes to make them look like they had confetti on them. We were going for a “Saved by the Bell” theme song vibe. (Hopefully someone gets that reference!) The shapes looked great under the blacklight and really added a lot to the room. We also created two freestanding squares for our 1st-2nd grade room and used one small blacklight for effect as a great light-weight option that could be moved in and out each week. You could also just put the shapes directly on the walls using wall-safe tape.
Bonus ideas! We have done a glow in the dark themed set design in the past and I never got around to blogging about it. The pictures above are from a previous set design we did, but they would still be awesome for the Let’s Glow series or any other glow in the dark/blacklight event. The glowing triangles were made out of leftover cardboard. We cut the cardboard into triangles using an x-acto knife and added uv reactive tape to create the borders and the confetti look, similar to the shapes we made for this set design. The light-up arrows were also made out of cardboard. We cut the arrows out of cardboard using an x-acto knife and covered them with neon duct tape. We added LED tape to the arrows to make them actually light up. You can use one strip of LED tape for 2-3 arrows depending on how large you make them by taping off the excess LED tape between the arrows with black tape.
If you loved this set design, make sure you check out the Let’s Glow Curriculum Series.