Stage Designs

Throwback: We’ll Have a Ball

Garrett Walker from Bayside Community Church in Bradenton, FL brings us this dotted masterpiece. (Originally posted January 2012)

They borrowed the idea from Todd Bougher – using children’s ball pit balls. The strung them together and hung them off axis to create their backdrop. They special ordered “Pearl” colored balls from

They used a soldering iron to burn 2 holes (top and bottom) in the balls. Then they threaded a string through with a straightened clothes hanger. Then they threader a 4″ drinking straw on the string before adding another ball. (This kept the balls evenly spaced.) Then they secured the ends of the string with a large knot to keep the balls together.

They mounted LED’s on the top and bottom of the strings. Because the balls are round, if you use a different color downlit from uplit, you can see both colors on each ball.

The whole backdrop cost around $500.


Tagged in LED Throwback: Storming the Castle

36 responses to “Throwback: We’ll Have a Ball”

  1. Steven Hall says:

    Garrett, This looks great. Keep up the amazing work for God’s kingdom.


    • Garrett Walker says:

      Thanks for the encouragement Steven!!! I hope other Churches can use some of our ideas to help enrich their environments of worship! We’ve stolen a BUNCH of ideas from this website over the years! So it was time to let others steal from us! Well, actually, steal what we stole from Todd Bougher! haha.

  2. Esteban Lizana says:


  3. TJ McCormick says:

    Garrett you are the man. When are you going to come back down to Coastal and lead some worship?

    • Thanks TJ! Have you posted any of your cool Stage designs up on this website? I’ll come down anytime! You just let me know! Say hi to Bonez for me! Jordan told me he had a great time a couple weeks ago visiting!

  4. Kevin says:

    I remember my first stage design.

  5. FYI. When we took down this backdrop, we reused all the balls by making a Ball Pit in our Children’s Ministry! That’s about as “Green” as I get…

  6. Liz Withers says:

    This is amazing! I’m thinking about pitching something like this to my team next week! Thanks for sharing.

  7. Mike Fowler says:

    EXCELLENT! Love it! What light fixtures are you using (LED and Moving Head)?

  8. Elizabeth Ononye says:

    Garrett- I LOVE this!! It’s AMAZING!!! Thank you for sharing it! We are hoping to do something like this for an upcoming conference.

    A few questions…what kind of string did you use? How far apart from one another did you hang each string in order to get the effect shown? How did you make sure that the 2 holes you put in the plastic balls were perfectly placed so the balls would hang straight?

    Thanks in advance for the extra information!

    • Thanks for the encouragement Elizabeth! Please feel free to borrow these ideas! That’s what we did!

      For the String, we used just normal woven string. I think we got it at Lowes. It’s the kind that contractors would use to hang plumbs off or get a straight line from. The key to the string is to get something thin enough to get through the holes in the balls, and strong enough not to break!

      We had 8″ drinking straws that we cut in half, so all of our balls were 4″ apart. We then spaced out the next string by 4 inches between the balls, and then offset it down 4 inches to get the staggered effect.

      There’s no real trick to getting the holes perfectly centered on the opposite Poles of the sphere. But there is a small manufacture line that runs the full equator of the ball, so that gives you some sort of reference.

      Not every ball was perfectly placed on our back drop. Some of the holes were offset a little, but when you have a backdrop of this size, with over 1200 balls, it’s hard for the eye to pick up such small imperfections! Especially if it’s staggered like ours.

      I originally tried to have all the balls in a perfect line, like Todd Bougher did in his original stage design. But if it wasn’t PERFECT, you could see it. Staggering it broke up the pattern enough to fool the eye.

      I hope this helps!

  9. Paul Kongable says:

    Hey great job on the design!

    In the pictures above are the straws still on the string? I cant really tell. And if you did cut the straws off once you finished with the strand, how did you keep the balls from sliding back down the string?

    Thanks for the help!

  10. Elizabeth Ononye says:

    Garrett- Thanks for the information! That’s very helpful. Were the black straws that you used regular straws, thick or thin. I never knew straws came in SO MANY diameters! Was thinking of going with a slightly thicker straw for ease of threading the string, but was concerned they might be more visible. Did you guys use a standard straw!

    Also, did you keep the ball string garlands to be reused? We had a discussion about how to store them and was wondering if you had any tips for us. Right now, it looks like we would need to transport them over to our storage unit and hang them somehow.

    • We used standard drinking straws that were a little less than a 1/4″ in diameter. The bigger the straw, the bigger you can make the hole, the easier you can thread the string. As long as the straw color matches the back drop, I don’t think you have to worry about seeing them.

      As far as moving them around or storage, it’s not an easy thing. We made probably 30 strings at one of our campuses, and transported them to another campus for installation. They got really tangled, and some had to be cut and remade. I would advice you to make them and string them in the same place. Either way, strong knots on both the top and bottom of the string sill save you a lot of grief!

      When we took all ours down, we just cut the string at the bottom, and let all the balls and straws fall into a garbage bag. We reused the balls for our Children’s ministry ball pit!

  11. Elizabeth Ononye says:

    Once again, THANK YOU!!!!

  12. Dan S says:

    Looks great man! Question about your screen. How many projectors? Did you buy the screen or make it? It looks great and I think it’s double wide (2 projectors). We are thinking of doing something like that. Any info on the hardware you are using would be great.

    • Hey Dan,

      Our side screens are 78″x139″ 16:9 ratio DaLites with Sanyo DHT8000 HD (8000 lumens) Projectors on it. We use these screens for IMAG. Our center screen is 83″x238″, custom ratio, made by Da LIte. We have 2 Panasonic PT-DW5100 SD (5500 Lumens) using the Edge Blend module in ProPresenter to create the center image.

      Hope this helps!

  13. Adam Mason says:

    Where’d you get the drinking straws from?

  14. Jonathan Parker says:

    What are the balls made of? They look like the typical ball pit balls, but how did you find them all in one color?

    • Yep, they’re just normal ball pit balls. I had to special order them. They are Pearl color. Check the above description and comments for the links and more info on the design! Good luck!

  15. Daniel Liu says:

    how many ball per strand did you use? how long was each strand? trying to get an idea for the cost if i were to purchase the ball. thanks!

  16. Chris Greenwood says:

    I am in the process of building this design can some one tell me how far apart the the lines should be spaced?

  17. Cody Turner says:

    If I missed this I apologize. How are these attached to the floor and ceiling to keep them secure? This surely would have a wiggle to it without being tight. Loving this!

  18. Chris says:

    Hey Garrett, Love this design. We’re going to be doing this for our spring stage. I was wondering what the crosses were made of. Look’s like insulated foam board painted white but not sure.


  19. Daniel says:

    I like this design a lot. Can you please tell me more about the cross? Did you painted it? Is it wood?

  20. Matt says:

    Love this! Curious about something else though, your stage risers on either side of the stage, I really like those. Where did you get those from? they look different then most I’ve seen. Truss bases?

  21. Chris says:

    Just curious how your center screens look with the house lights up. I’m looking to do a center screen like yours and I found those projectors pretty cheap on ebay. Would you recomend them? Do they look good with the house lights up?

  22. Adam Young says:

    We are doing this design today, and one different way to string the ball pit balls – we are using monofilament (15 lb) and 5 inch doll needles (got from Joann fabrics). That way you don’t have to worry about soldering holes in the top and bottom, you just poke through the ball and run it up through the straw.

    • Heidi Kottke says:

      Adam, did you make the crosses as well? If so, what material did you use to make them? We’re looking at doing this design in the next couple of weeks – love the idea of using the doll needles instead of soldering holes!

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