Transforming Your Space by Reflecting Light

Wood, Coroplast, and fabric aren’t the only materials that will catch and reflect light. A trip to the home center will provide you with plenty of inspiration to offer a variety of simple tools that can yield amazing results when hit with light.

Transforming Your Space by Reflecting Light
Coroplast is shown, cut on a CNC and strung together using fishing line and split shot weights. They’re lit from the top with LED PARs, from bottom with LED battens, and from the back with LED battens, with the backlight creates the white outline that’s seen on some of the hexagons.
Credit: Billi Cate Greenwell

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Transforming Your Space by Reflecting Light

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The great thing about Coroplast, is that it’s lightweight and relatively easy to cut. A box cutter is all you need to cut simple horizontal lines across the corrugated “grain” of the plastic; verticals and diagonals can be cut using a heavier duty knife and a solid carpenter’s square to keep your knife from slipping. And Coroplast cutters help you speed a little faster through larger cutting projects. Be safe, and always wear gloves when you’re cutting, as it’s easy for your knife to slip.

Last year, my church decided on a design with Coroplast hexagons, and due to the quantity of hexagons we needed to cut and the number of diagonals, we had the shapes cut by a local plastic supply company using their CNC machine. It saved a lot of time, and we ended up with a consistent, even cut on every single piece.

Coroplast can be stapled, nailed, screwed, or glued to just about any surface, and it’s extremely lightweight. In the case of our hexagons, we strung them up with fishing line that we fed right through the corrugated channels of the plastic. You probably won’t find Coroplast at the home center, but a search for a local plastic supply company will yield a list of suppliers.


Fabric, drapery, and other soft goods have been a staple in theater for centuries. Creating a lavish upstage French curtain is likely cost-prohibitive, but draping fabric over simple frames, railing, or other set pieces is a simple way of creating accents that pop without covering an entire surface.

Numerous options are available at your local fabric store, but it’s worth searching a little deeper and finding a theatrical supply company. With them, you’ll find fabric that’s flame retardant, often comes in more varied widths, and is created specifically for applications to catch and reflect light. Do a search for theatrical draperies and you’ll be amazed at the colors, textures, and reflective surfaces available. Many companies will send fabric samples so you can make the right decision the first time.

With fabric, experimentation with light placement is key – hitting it straight on with light can create a striking backdrop, and lighting from the bottom or the sides gives you deeper shadows in the folds. And if you’re lighting fabric that’s hanging, you may get the effect of motion as the fabric sways in the breeze (or vortex) of your building’s HVAC system.

Again, practice safety with drapery: Flame retardant fabric in a public space is always the best fabric; if it’s not flame retardant, you risk the very fast spread of fire if the fabric comes in contact with a heat source such as a candle or incandescent lighting.

More About Adam Dye
Adam Dye is the Media Director at Brentwood Baptist Church, just south of Nashville, Tennessee, where he oversees production for the church’s six campuses. Originally working in the recording industry, he’s had the opportunity to work with some of the greatest country, Christian, and rock artists in the country, but most loves working with the amazing volunteers who serve alongside him at the church. He spends time each summer with high school friends hiking the Appalachian trail, is his church staff’s resident Tour de France fan, and enjoys discovering bike trails and greenways around Nashville with his wife, Allison.
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Latest Resource

Worship Facilities Magazine, March-April 2018
The March-April 2018 issue of Worship Facilities Magazine offers articles about how to prepare, prevent and respond to church violence, a look into what church management software can do for your church community, and a piece on how a once popular nightclub venue was transitioned to become Shoreline Church's new home.

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Technology · Lighting · Visual Arts · Stage Design · Team Management · Budgeting · Drapery · Fabric · Hexagons · Incandescent Lighting · LED Fixtures · Lighting Design · All Topics

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