Special Event Design

Straight on Till Morning

Paul Smollen from La Croix United Methodist Church in Cape Girardeau, MO brings us this journey to Never Never Land.

They wanted to encapsulate the idea of “Keep on Keeping on” by using a quote from Peter Pan for their series title.

So they hung two strands of light sockets at the very back of their stage in front of a black curtain with various length drops soldered onto them. There were 25 on each strand and they alternated them between the spaces between each other at about 2′ spacing and random heights. They used clear 6w bulbs from a company called 1000bulbs. Then they hung 3-15′ wide panels of non-woven fabric – similar to weed block from a company called Studio Productions and weighted the bottoms to make them hang straight.

They used two more single bulbs, each on their own dimming channels so they could have some varying brightness. The last two bulbs were the brightest ones and in the middle of the drop to make the “second star on the right”.

They washed the upstage in blue, projected a faint cloud gobo pattern on the non-woven hanging and shot some gobo patterns onto the floor behind the speaker for depth. They carefully adjusted the lighting to just a flicker of light and the diffusion of the non woven material made a beautiful star effect.

Stacks of Paper Tree Links

5 responses to “Straight on Till Morning”

  1. Terrie says:

    Love the effect but I’m having a hard time understanding the light socket/strand/soldered thing going on. Do you have any pictures of that to make it a little clearer for those of us who are a little more creatively challenged? Thanks so much.


  2. paul smollen says:

    Hi tb,
    we modified 2 strands of 25 full sized light sockets which are used for party lights outdoors. They accept standard incandescent light bulbs. We used clear 6w bulbs. The strands and bulbs were both purchased from 1000bulbs. We then got 300ft of black extension cord wire and extended each sockets by 5, 10, 15 foot. It took a lot of wire to make all the drops and we attached them by soldering the connections together and insulated the connections with black electrical tape. We had a “soldering party” with several people working on it. The main strands were connected straight across the ceiling of the stage on our over head grid made of rigid conduit and painted black. we then let the extended sockets hang down and tied them to random heights. I can send you a picture to your email if you want! Last Christmas, we used 5 of the same strands hung over the congregation to look like candle flames floating in the air. You can see the design “Twisted Cheer” on CSDI website. We have re-used the strands several times and it makes a great effect. Hope that helps! Paul

  3. paul smollen says:

    Just for clarity, we used 4 chanels of dimming to create depth among the strands and the 2 brighter lights (stars) in the center. Unlike compact flourescent bulbs, old style bulbs can be dimmed. With the Twisted Cheer” design during midnight service Christmas eve we sang “Silent Night” last Christmas and turned all the lights in the sanctuary off. We used the hanging lights as a candle effect and it was warm and beautiful. This gave an “enveloping” feel since it was all through the room. We have used this for candle light services without the fire and wax problems inherent with candles.

  4. Terrie says:

    Paul, I went back to what you said you did until Straight On till Morning. I’m trying to understand, so please bear with me on this – I still have a question.

    So the light strands were, say, 30 ft long with 25 sockets spaced at 12″ intervals. You basically removed the socket, dropped a line at that point to the desired length, replaced the socket at the end of that line and closed up the loose ends at those points.?

    I’m getting lost when you say “There were 25 on each strand and they alternated them between the spaces between each other at about 2′ spacing and random heights.” What does ‘alternated them between the spaces between each other’ mean? Did you hang one strand parallel to the other so one was in front of the other? I’m having trouble visualizing what this one means.

    Again, I apologize for being a little thick here, and I do so appreciate your time and help.



  5. paul smollen says:

    Terrie, You got it. We hung 2 strands together but alternated the sockets so every other one was slightly different brightness. so it would be bulb 1 was circuit 1, bulb 2 circuit 2, bulb 3 circuit 1 bulb 4 circuit 2 etc… sorry I didn’t explain that clearly. we started with 5, 10 and 15 foot drops but tied them off at whatever random heights we wanted. We also labled all the drops at the main line of each run so we could keep track of everything. It was much simpler to do than to explain!


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