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What is a Scrim?

By Shannon Kietzman
Updated May 23, 2024
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Scrim, also commonly referred to as gauze, is a type of strong, coarse cotton material made with a rectangular weave. This makes it look similar to a screen used in a window. The material is commonly used for making curtains, but is also used for upholstery, in bookbinding, and in theater in order to help create special effects. When used for this last purpose, it is typically referred to as sharktooth scrim.

Many people believe that scrim is an ideal material for curtains because it is lightweight and translucent. It can also appear opaque when lit from the front at a diagonal angle, but when lit from behind, it becomes transparent. This characteristic makes it particularly useful in theater, because it can be lit from the front in order to block the audience’s view of what is taking place on the stage when scenes are changed. When the fabric is lit from behind, the audience can once again see what is taking place behind it.

Scrim and another material called bobbinette are often used interchangeably, though the two materials are not the same. The weave of bobbinette is hexagonal and wider, which makes it more difficult to hide the appearance of objects when used in the theater. Scrim can also be used with cyclorama, which is a large curtain used in the theater. When the cyclorama is lit, the projected images become easily visible, and then disappear again when the material is no longer lit. When the two fabrics are used together, the projected image appears to have depth.

The moiré effect can also be created by placing one piece of scrim cloth behind the other and then lighting them on stage. This effect is created when two grid-like patterns are placed over one another at an angle. Using the fabric for this effect can create a sense of disorientation in the audience when watching a scene on stage.

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Discussion Comments
By anon14937 — On Jun 27, 2008

Good day! I viewed your site when I was searching for more information about SCRIM; and, I found it very useful...We are having our theater production as part of our school requirement and it so happened that we badly need the said fabric. I'm hoping that you could help us by simply answering the following questions regarding the said dilemma:

> what are the simple terms and descriptions for this kind of fabric so that we can easily explain its features when we are about to purchase it?

> is it often available in fabric stores?

> how much will it cost us?

I'm hoping for your favorable response regarding this matter. Thank you and God Bless! From, Oevelet Bloom.

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