There’s a good reason theatre stages and museum displays are typically draped with black cloth. It focuses the eye of the audience on the intended subject. In the theatre, that would be the actors and the setting. In a museum display, it’s the artifacts and antiquities.
On a model railway, it’s been said, our scenery and structures are the setting while our trains take on the role of actors. To tell the story effectively – to focus a visitor or an operator on the play, as it were – it’s important to make the distractions disappear.
As I’ve written in a previous post, my friend Pierre Oliver visited this week and we installed the supports needed to hang a fabric valance. I discussed colour choices with Pierre and he suggested that the valance be a solid, dark colour – and I should paint the layout fascia to match. The result will direct all attention to the layout itself. (I certainly wasn’t intending to use a bright checked pattern, despite taping a tea towel to the valance supports to gauge the effect as shown below.)
While installing the valance support I ran out of Velco. So yesterday, while running errands, I picked up more from Designer Fabric Outlet. While there, I also grabbed several yards of a black poly-cotton blend fabric. This came in 110″ width and I’ll be able to get all my valance needs out of my purchase. Today I cut a strip off the end of the roll and pinned it in place over St. Williams to see how it looks. As the photos at the top of this post show, it’s quite effective. (I think it’ll be even better once it’s hemmed to smooth out the jagged bottom edge. I’ll also extend the valance above the sector plate to reduce glare from the window in the distance.)
I had many positive comments about the fabric valance idea. One thing I did want to mention about it is that care must be exercised to mount the fabric so that it won’t come into contact with any lighting. I don’t know if there’s much risk of setting the valance on fire – but why take that risk?
In the photo below, I’ve added a yellow line to show the distance between valance and light fixture. In addition, there’s a wooden support for the lighting system between the valance and the light itself, so there’s no way the fabric can touch the fixture or bulb.
As I mount the valance, I will determine whether further measures are needed – such as adding a shield. This can be as simple as screwing a square of masonite to the lighting support so that fabric can’t fold around it and get tangled in a light.
Safety must come first – always!