This topic has 10 replies, 10 voices, and was last updated 5 years, 4 months ago by Former Member Content Archive.

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  • #14773
      • Experience: 5-10 years
      • Scenic Status: Full Time Regular

      Hi all! This week I starched and painted on a pre-sewn, pre-FR drop, something I have never done before. it felt very Murphy’s Law all week. First, my size recipe (from Cobalt) came out too thick to run through the sprayer, so I had to thin it down. we did a second starch coat with my boss’s recipe, which just involves mixing starch slurry into hot water, not really “cooking” it in boiling water like I’m used to. This recipe was about the same in starch:water ratio, but came out much thinner and behaved better in the sprayer. anyway, with both coats, the starch soaked into the fabric immediately and did not seem to move at all as we brushed it. this resulted in a cheetah-print look while wet, and remained speckled and blotchy when I applied my base scumble. I also noticed that, although the fabric is supposedly heavy weight natural, it felt much thinner than I am used to, and it was very transparent when wet. It also did not shrink up all that nicely after starch and hot water. It’s not bad, but there is still some looseness that I don’t appreciate.


      the immediate absorption issue did not stop after the starching. wet stumble, wet surface + roller, bath… it felt like nothing wanted to move across the surface the way I’m used to paint moving. I could see water coming out of my mister and immediately disappearing into the fabric, even after multiple coats of paint.

      Thankfully, this is a dark, grungy, highly textural stone wall that will be pretty far upstage, I believe. But if this theater wants to buy FR muslin for future projects, like translucent skies or clean architectural scenes, what can I do to give myself a smooth working surface that doesn’t immediately eat my paint? and, why does this heavyweight fabric feel like medium or lightweight? do I just need to ask them to order NFR muslin and flame retard it myself?

      thanks in advance! any advice is appreciated!

      Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

        • Experience: 5-10 years
        • Scenic Status: Full Time Regular

        note: as I was writing this, I was also texting Rachel Keebler about it, who called me up and suggested a size/starch mixture recipe that I will definitely try next time!

        Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

         Angelique Powers
          • Experience: 20+ years
          • Scenic Status: Full Time Regular

          Member Member

          I can’t speak to your starch issues, as it sounds like a bad batch/recipe from the start.

          As for painting on FR vs NFR I have done both and prefer the NFR. There is just so many issues with “salting” that can occur for a whole host of reasons. I also feel that there is some sort of “chemistry and science stuff” that happens when you putting paint on a FR drop that makes it not “stick” as well.

          Cost wise it makes sense for management to want you to use FR – less labor and materials if it comes already done – but if that cost savings effects your quality, is it a savings?

          Perhaps it is worth it to do samples with your new starch recipes on both types of muslin.


            I haaaate painting on FR muslin, Sarah. The things you described, and more, are the norm in my experience. I’ve also had it size nicely when wet, and then ‘let go’ as it dries. I figure that you don’t know how that FR chemical was applied, and how much of the absorbency of the fabric it’s messed with, and in what ways. I find a lot of variation from batch to batch with the same vendors, too.

            When a client requests that I paint on FR goods, my first conversation to dissuade them from this comes not from the application standpoint you’re describing, but to point out that wetting FR treated goods for any reason voids the cert, and requires retreating. Why not just let me do it and avoid the whole hassle?


            I’m happy to have stumbled upon this thread. My current employer only buys the FR muslin and I definitely have not enjoyed painting on it. I’ve found even for small paintings on frames, it sizes when wet (used both thinned white latex and starch) and then lets go. I also had some ballooning issues with a drop, far worse than anything I’ve seen. Is this an issue people have had with the FR muslin or a potential fan problem?

             Nicole Deibert
              • Experience: 20+ years
              • Scenic Status: Full Time Regular

              I hadn’t considered the reason why I get ballooning on my drops is because they’re FR. I find the do that once they’re dry, but then as I wet the area once more, the fabric pulls taught once again. But my employer will also only buy FR muslin.

              Since we’re talking about FR muslin, we were discussing the usefulness of it as the FR chemical is likely washed into the material, and wouldn’t it re-wet and essentially get thinned out as you apply the first size to the material. Has anyone actually done any burn tests with painted drops?

                • Experience: 15-20 years
                • Scenic Status: Full Time Regular

                I have always been under the impression that as soon as you paint on a FR treated piece of goods you negate the FR certificate. Makes sense to me. You are weakening the FR with your paint and water. Therefore what’s the point of getting FR muz unless you are using it as a bounce.

                I always request NFR, with the above being the reason and treat the muslin myself after painting. Now I also think it’s odd that I can certify a drop as being FR. I’m not trained in any way. I just follow the directions on the bottle from Roscoe and send it on it’s way.

                I suppose someone will let me know if I’m wrong. I’ll be interested to hear.


                Unbleached medium weight muslin (144 TPI or so) should shrink approximately 16% when it is sized unless it has been flame proofed before it is painted. The purpose of the size is to hold that shrink into the drop. the flameproof essentially nullifies any further shrink in the muslin. I have experienced the same issues with starching smooth on the frame, and once it is done and hung, it bags horribly and absorbs humidity and looks terrible.

                  • Experience: 15-20 years
                  • Scenic Status: Full Time Freelance

                  I’m ordering a NFR drop and have been asked to flame retard it. I’m assuming I can just follow directions on bottle. ( Hopefully just sprayed onto the back after paint? )

                  However, I’m been told that the drop needs to be certified for FR and if we order the FR muslin, the drop will come with the certification. Please let me know what I would need to do to provide certification. ??

                   Carole Payette
                    • Experience: 20+ years
                    • Scenic Status: Full Time Regular

                    From my experience, different cities have different requirements for flame retarding certification. In some situations I have provided product information of what I used for the FR and a swatch of same fabric with same paint and FR treatment for them to sample. That said, if you are going to paint, dye or starch the muslin do not get it with FR treatment as it can stain your treatment and will no longer be truly FR.

                    What I usually do for a painted drop is add the paint additive to the base coat. Rose Brand has 2 brands right now and they both seem to be the same type of product. If the drop is already painted and they want it to be FR treated, I usually use FF2 and spray it on the front side if treating it on the floor or the back side if it is hung. These treatments always have a possibility of leaving salt stains so care should be taken to not over saturate the fabric.

                    Good Luck


                    In Boston requirements are flame tested samples presented and tested by Fire Dept to obtain certification. The house where your production is being presented should know the requirements for their location.

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