Linen Gauze vs. Sharkstooth vs. Leno Filled Scrim

A scrim is a piece of fabric that is often used in the world of theatre as a screen or backdrop on set. Scrims are important to the design of the set since they can create the illusion of haziness, solid walls, and distance. To create the desired effects, it’s important to choose the right type of scrim. There are three main options to choose from: linen gauze, sharkstooth, and leno filled scrims. Here’s a look at the main differences between these three fabrics:

Texture

The most visible difference between these three types of scrim is the texture. sharkstooth scrim has a textured open weave, which means the fabric is woven in a way that creates small, rectangular openings. Leno filled scrim has a similar weave to sharkstooth scrim, however the rectangular openings found on sharkstooth scrim are filled in on leno filled scrim. Therefore, leno filled scrim is a textured closed weave, whereas sharkstooth is a textured open weave. The weave on linen gauze is very different. Linen gauze is a closely woven fabric with a fine and even texture.

Resistance to Flames

You never know when disaster will strike on set, which is why it’s best to consider the flame resistancy of each scrim prior to choosing one for your theater set. Even though the two scrims feature similar weaves, sharkstooth scrim is fire retardant, whereas leno filled scrim is not. Linen gauze scrim is typically available in both fire retardant and non-fire retardant options. If you plan on using fire on set, it’s best to choose a scrim that will not light up in flames in the event of an accident.

Material

Linen gauze scrims are 100% cotton, whereas both sharkstooth and leno filled scrims are 95% cotton and 5% polyester. Cotton-polyester blends are typically more durable and resistant to normal wear and tear. Adding polyester to cotton also makes the cotton less likely to shrink or stretch. As a result, set designers may find that sharkstooth and leno filled scrims last longer and retain their original shape and color better than linen gauze scrims.

Cotton-polyester blends are also less likely to wrinkle than materials that are 100% cotton. If you use a linen gauze scrim repeatedly or leave it folded up in storage for too long, you may need to iron or steam it prior to hanging it on set.

However, polyester is a synthetic fabric and cotton is 100% natural and recyclable. If eco-friendliness is a priority, the linen gauze scrim is probably the best option for your set.

Transparency

Transparency is one of the most important factors to consider when choosing a scrim for the set of a play. Set designers must understand how the light shines through each type of scrim so they can choose one that will help them create a certain effect on stage.

Linen gauze does not have an open weave, so light does not pour out of openings on this fabric. However, it is a lightweight fabric that allows a significant amount of light to shine through. This fabric actually softens the light to create a beautiful glow on stage. Leno filled scrim is also capable of diffusing and softening the light since it does not have an open weave.

Sharkstooth scrim allows more light to shine through than leno filled and linen gauze scream because of its open weave. In fact, set designers often use sharkstooth scrim because its open weave makes it basically transparent, so it can be used to create disappearing effects that will impress the audience.

Price

Price is another factor that should be taken into consideration when deciding which scrim to purchase. The price of these fabrics varies depending on a number of factors, including the vendor, size of the fabric, and availability. Even the color of the fabric can affect the price. In general, linen gauze and sharkstooth are close in price, and leno filled scrim is priced slightly higher per yard of fabric.

Color

Set designers are usually interested in scrims in natural colors such as white, tan, black, and light shades of blue. Because these are the most sought after hues, the selection of scrims is typically limited to these colors. If you are interested in a scrim in another color, it’s best to talk to the vendor about creating a custom order. Both cotton and cotton-polyester blend fabrics can be dyed, so this may be the best option.

Hanging the Scrims On Set

You should also learn how each scrim is hung and used on set prior to deciding which one is right for your production. Linen gauze is a lightweight material that is not hard to handle or hang on your own.

However, some set designers run into trouble when hanging sharkstooth scrim if they’ve never used this fabric before. Because of its open weave and weight, sharkstooth scrim falls into somewhat of an hourglass shape when it is hung. To solve this problem, set designers must add the proper amount of support to both sides of the scrim. Supporting the sides will straighten the scrim and prevent the center from creating an hourglass shape. But, it’s difficult to add support to the sides if this area is visible to the audience. Therefore, inexperienced set designers may find it hard to work with sharkstooth scrim.

At this point, you should have all of the information you need to make this decision. If you’re interested in purchasing linen gauze, sharkstooth, or leno filled scrim, contact Chicago Canvas & Supply. We are your leading source for backdrops, textiles, theatre fabrics, tarps, drop cloths, and more. We are happy to send free material samples to our clients. To place a request for samples, contact us today by calling 1-866-389-2218 or emailing email@chicagocanvas.com.

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