Sunday, August 19, 2012

Fabric Shopping

Fabric shopping is one of the unexpected joys of set design.

Unexpected by me, anyway.  As an architect I'm comfortable with selecting building materials - brick, stone, wood etc. - even if in theater these materials are, like as not, merely painted imitations of the real thing.  Since most sets turn out to be of interior rooms, there are interior finishes to pick too.  Architects often choose carpet, but many hand off carpet selection and certainly "soft" furnishings to interior designers or even to clients.

Not in theater.  If it's physically on stage and neither worn by nor carried by an actor, then the scenic designer chose it.  Or at least okayed it.

Which turns out to be kinda fun.

Fabrics!  The colors, textures, the drape and weight and translucency!  Fabrics are fascinating.

Dallas is luckily big enough to support a lively collection of fabric stores and warehouses.  There are the big chain sewing/fabric stores like Hancock's or JoAnn's.  Retail prices are high for theater budgets, but these  stores have frequent sales.  Remnants sometimes.  Retail fabric stores that specialize in upholstery, curtain, and decorating fabrics, however, are mostly too expensive even with sales, but there are great cut-price fabric stores along Harry Hines.

The most famous of these discount warehouses is Golden d'Or with its legendary Bargain Room.   (Half off of already discount prices!)   I enjoy visiting Golden d'Or - in part because it's such a hidden I-know-the-secret-door sort of place - but my favorite and luckiest store is Wherehouse Fabrics just up the street.  It's organization is more slap-dash, tables heaped with fabric rolls, but prices start at $1.50 a yard.  Can't beat that!  Best Fabrics next door has a great decorating fabric selection at good prices... but I have more luck at Wherehouse.

Believed public domain

The other day I had luck for an upcoming show.  If not quite the silver-blue brocade I was looking for, which was 22 $/yd even at a discount, then my find is a very good substitute at 2.50 $/yd.  Seven yards?  That's a savings of almost $140 - a substantial fraction of this entire set budget.

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