Sunday, December 21, 2008


To provide a smooth seamless surface for our backdrop the Masonite panels are covered with unbleached muslin fabric.

Step 1. Be sure the top of each panel is flush with the top piece of the framework that is supporting the panels. You may have to plane or sand the tops of the panels to be sure they are flush.

Step 2. Use thumb tacks to attach the muslin to the framework at the top. Our panels are 30 inches high and the muslin is 36 inches wide. Be sure to keep the edge of the muslin straight with the back of the panel frame so that it will hang straight.

Step 3. Flip the muslin over the panel and let it drape down the back. Remember on the AT&SG the panels are not attached to the wall. This is bit more tricky if your panels are attached to the wall.

Step 4. Apply wall paper paste smoothly under the muslin. We used a universal wall paper paste. Flip the muslin back over the front of the panels and smooth the muslin using a wall paper brush. Work from the center and down. Wrinkles in the muslin will smooth out with the brush. If you work from one end you might cause a ripple that will cause the muslin to not lay smooth.

Step 5. Trim the bottom edge, wrap it up around the framework (an advantage for leaving the gap under the framework) and glue it in place. This makes for a nice smooth edge. We also tapped the thumb tacks to be sure they were all the way in the top of the framework and then we applied wall paper paste to glue the top to the top of the framework so that there were no loose edges of fabric poking up. The fabric dries to a very smooth surface almost like artist's canvas.

This shows the muslin backdrop wrapped around the railroad room in a smooth seamless surface. The top of the backdrop is 6 feet, above the eye level of most observers. The room has 10 foot ceilings. It looks pretty empty now but when the benchwork is in place the railroad will begin to take shape.

Whoops! There are always lessons to be learned.
When you take the muslin around a curved corner remember that it has a tendency to shrink a bit. If you don't glue the corner first and be sure there is plenty of glue under the muslin and then smooth away from the corner you might stretch the fabric when it is moist with the glue and then when it dries and shrinks slightly you get three dimensional clouds in your backdrop. What will we do on the AT&SG? Well we are not going to redo the muslin since it is a single piece stretching for more than 35 feet along one wall and around the corner. But we have a solution. It just so happens that there will be rather large mountain in this corner, at least there will be now!

Hope you enjoyed our tutorial on installing a muslin backdrop.

Next step before the benchwork is to paint the sky. It is much easier to paint the sky before the benchwork is in place. Another lesson learned the hard way on the former AT&SG. Other details on the backdrop will be added as we put the scenery in place.