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.