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Okay here we go then, Chris's First attempt at "My first Starcloth" and a DIY guide to how to make your own. I was always crap at practical craftwork at school and I also brought this into adulthood, so if I can do this then basically anybody can!. It's also a great way of passing those long winter nights, since the job is slow but the results so far have been very worthwhile.


Kit Description

The kit comes complete with either 100 or 200 fibres from a central "lightbox" which has a built in 2000 hour, low cost 20 watt halogen lamp and a colour changer. The 100 fibre version comes with 4 bundles of fibres, each bundle contains 25 fibres of different lengths, namely 2m, 3m, 4m and 5m.

Also enclosed are 100 (or 200) "end pieces" which can terminate the fibre into a "fairy light" bulb effect. However I chose to leave the end of the fibre blank giving a bright pin light effect and not to fit the end pieces.

In view of the varying lengths of the fibres I started with the shortest fibres (2m) on the section of fabric closest to where the lightbox would be situated, and using the longest fibres at the end of the cloth furthest from the lightbox. The cloth I am using is 8ft wide with a 3ft "drop" which suits an Ultimax style goalpost.

The easiest way to work on the project is to use a long wall paper pasting table, and work from the shortest fibres first.

(1) Poke a hole into the cloth using a badge pin or needle, and neatly drag a fibre across to the hole. I found that using a marker pen to mark the hole assisted in finding it!. You need run the fibre across the back of the cloth and make sure that you leave a length between the corner of the cloth and the lightbox. I left a surplus of 0.5m since I plan on having the light unit directly behind the cloth on the left hand corner.


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(2) Make sure you poke a fair length of fibre through the rear of the material. Since you will be cutting the fibre to be flush to the front of the actual cloth then it doesn't matter how much you pass through. I allowed about 1/2" inch of fibre to protrude from the other side of the cloth.

Flatten the fibre against the cloth, and use a cool melt glue gun to seal the fibre into the hole...


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(3) Once the glue has dried (about 1 min) turn the fabric over and carefully cut the fibre to be flush with the material. I found that it was easier to do around 10 or 15 at a time, gluing them first and then turning over the cloth to cut off the excess.

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When in use, each fibre will produce a very intense spot of light which changes colour whilst giving a twinkling effect. Since you have cut the fibre flush to the surface of the cloth, the spot of light appears to be inside the fabric, giving the same effect as professional, commercial star cloths.

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(4) Whilst one fibre on its own doesn't look much. But once you have 100 or so of the fibres in a dark environment the effect is very surprising and eyecatching. The pinspots of light are surprisingly bright, and can easily be seen from the back of a very large room.

This picture is taken with the cloth lying on the workbench and not "face on" as it would be hanging from a stand. Even though you can tell how effective the starcloth is...

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(5) Of course, 100 fibres trailing over the back of the material is very messy and it is time consuming gluing each one flat. But as you proceed, glue the fibres in flat 'looms' to the back of the cloth. This way, you have one large bundle of fibres travelling along the cloth with smaller looms branching off to feed each area of the cloth.

Don't worry about the messy appearance on the back of the cloth, since once the cloth has been completed, and every fibre fitted, another identical piece of material will be glued and stiched very tightly to the back of the cloth which will hide completely the trail of fibres and give protection. There are two ways of attaching the back. Either sew the pieces together, or get some iron on adhesive strips. I chose to use both methods to give a very close fit. If required the short length bundle of fibres exiting the cloth to the light unit can be covered in a fabric tube, or very carefully covered in flexible circular electrical conduit or heatshrunk.

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And here is the finished article!, shown in use at a local function. Although the picture is slightly blurry, you can clearly see how effective the star cloth is in a low light environment. I use vecro hook and loop strips to easily and securely attach the cloth along the top edge of an Ultimax stand, the cloth was made long enough to wrap around the sides of the stand, and more velcro tabs secure the corners of the cloth on the Dj side.

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Cost:-

The whole project took around 3 weekends, spending a few hours at a time on it. Although the cost was relatively low (Around £200 including the material, a glue gun and the fibre optic kit).

100 Fibre Kits complete with colour changing 20 Watt light boxes are available from Congleton Sound & Lighting for around £150.
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