Writers' Theatre's most recent show, The Liar, has a couple of very interesting scenic pieces. The one that took us the most time to paint and most brain power to execute was the back wall. The back wall is a large 20 foot tall wall complete with moulding, a scrim center panel that hid a printed drop and sculptural branch for reveal later in the show and hard scenery flanking either side of the scrim panel. The entire painted treatment of the huge wall is a delicate, painterly paisley pattern.
We painted a base coat, did some layout and started to lay in our artwork. I picked the scrim as best as I could to avoid it sticking to the bogus paper. Everything was going according to plan and we were on track.
A couple things I've learned when it comes to de-papering your scrim
1. Hot water with a couple drops of soap is your friend! I soaked rags in hot water and soap and let them sit on the paper side of the scrim. If you let them hang out for a couple of minutes it'll start to loosen up the bond between the paper and the scrim.
2. Scotch Brite Dobie plastic scrubby pads make quick work of the paper. If you aren't familiar with Dobie scrubbing pads, they are a sponge that is wrapped in a plastic scouring surface. Not only is it good for your non-stick cookware it'll remove paper on the back of your scrim post haste.
3. When scrubbing your scrim, scrub in the direction of the fabric weave. I scrubbed up and then across. It lifted the paper the best.
4. For those super stubborn holes that the paper just won't come out of, I suggest an embroidery needle. It's the perfect size for scrim holes.
It took me approximately 2 hours to scrub out all of the spots on my scrim but the overall result was successful. Even though I used some elbow grease and scrubbed the heck out the spots they kept their color well enough, and I only had to do minimal touch ups in the space. In efforts to avoid this inconvenience next time, on top of my bogus paper I will be laying out some scrap muslin before I lay out the scrim. The scrim won't bond as well to the fabric as it did to the paper.
Have you worked on a project like this before? Did you find different solutions to your challenges? Questions about my process?
Let me know in the comments!