CrystalGel – A Costumer’s New Best Friend

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Costumers often choose a fabric for a number of reasons, including its feel, color, translucency and weight. Oftentimes, however, that fabric needs to be modified to fit the needs of the production. For a 2015 production of Peter and the Starcatcher at Playmakers Repertory Company, the costume crew needed to create a dress for the character Teacher so that he appeared as an illuminated mermaid. The project posed a number of fabric-style challenges for costume technician and draper Candy McClernan – who discovered that Rosco’s CrystalGel was her solution to several of the challenges this costume posed.

Challenge #1:
How to maintain the structure of the design without altering the hand of the fabric

Applying CrystalGel to the fabric provided the structural rigidity Candy needed

The fashion fabric Holly Poe Durbin, the show’s costume designer, chose to use for Teacher’s mermaid dress was composed of two layers of organza with a layer of hairs sandwiched between them. The fabric was flowy and translucent, yet it could not hold the form she needed to shape the skirt away from the actor’s body. Candy tried using several different products to stiffen the fabric, but found that they altered the hand of the delicate fabric too much. CrystalGel, however, gave Candy the support and structured drape she desired, without ruining the delicate hand and feel of the fabric.

Candy also reported an added benefit – she didn’t need to hem the skirt panels because she found that simply “cutting the edge of the fabric after coating with CrystalGel left a nice clean cut edge.

Challenge #2:
Stiffening the fabric without decreasing the illumination of the strapless bodice

Animation

The bodice of Teacher’s costume illuminated by an Electro-Luminescent panel

The coating material Candy chose to stiffen the fabric also needed to let the glow from the Electro-Luminescent (EL) panel sewn into the bodice glow. Most options for stiffening the delicate fabric were too opaque and would have blocked the light from the EL panel. The transparency and flexibility of CrystalGel offered the perfect solution as it added just enough body to the bodice, without inhibiting the luminescent glow of this beautiful costume!

Candy let us know that “CrystalGel was the perfect coating! It made our fabric stiff enough to hold the skirt out from the actor’s body and allowed the LEDs to shine through, yet retained a nice hand.

Final product as seen onstage

A collaboration between the master electrician, draper, costume crafts artisans and Rosco – CrystalGel helped this mermaid costume retain its elegance and beauty as it allowed its illumination to shine through its flowy designer fabric. Visit the CrystalGel webpage to learn more about this innovative scenic product for your next costume design.

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Joel Svendsen

About Joel Svendsen

Content Marketing Manager: Joel's Rosco career began in Rosco's Hollywood office in 1999 – first in sales covering the Western US and the Los Angeles Film & Television market, and then as Product Manager for Rosco's Film & Television Products. In that time, his knowledge of Rosco's products and how they're used in each of our marketplaces makes him well suited for bringing the stories in Spectrum to life.