I’m headed off to WPI this weekend for SLAW (or SFS Live Action Weekend). On Sunday, I’m playing in the first run of Cracks in the Orb, a LARP based on Steven Brust’s Dragaera novels. This will actually be the second LARP I’ve played in based on the Dragaera books- the first one was Dragon, a weekend long LARP by SILWest.
To help out with set dressing, I volunteered to make banners for the LARP, like the banners I made for Venezia. The Dragaera setting has 17 houses, 6 of which show up in the LARP, each with their own colors and animals. So I went to the Christmas Tree Shop, looking for cheap fabric (table cloths, cloth napkins, curtains, or whatever I could find.)
And I found the lazy banner-maker’s best friend: table runners!
They’re already the right shape- long and narrow, and these table runners came with already pointed ends (and tassels!)- so I didn’t have to add the points to the bottom like I did with the Venezia banners. They were also very cheap- about $4 each. These particular ones were in the Christmas section (yes, the Christmas section, even though it’s still early November, and Michael’s already has a huge Christmas section too) hence the Christmas colors- gold, silver, red, and green. Luckily, those are four of the colors I need for the houses in Cracks in the Orb. The other colors are light blue (I bought some light blue cloth napkins), white (I found two white table runners in the non-Christmas section) and black. For the black, I actually had to go to a fabric store and buy the smallest cut of fabric. I guess black isn’t a very popular color for table dressing.
This does mean all of the banners with have a single color field, and all end in a single point (the Venezia banners were divided in various ways, and some had two or three points or squared off bottoms) but I think that will give this set of banners a unified look. (Plus the tassels look great.)
The only sewing I had to do was fold over one end of the table runner (since both ends are pointed) and sew a single straight line. This forms a slot at that end, which could be useful for hanging them up.
The two white banners lacked tassels, so I bought one tassel and added it to the bottom of one. Then I cut the tassel of the end of the silver runner that got folded over and sewn down for the top of the banner and added it to the other white runner. (The color is pretty close.)
Ran out to Michael’s in the snow two nights ago. Turns out they didn’t have iron-on adhesive, so I made one banner with the stuff left over from the Venezia banners, then finished the other five last night. (I tried basing the images on the ones that appear on this version of the Dragaeran cycle. Though apparently, there’s another I could have used?)
Some additional thoughts on table runners as set dressing: there were tons of different table runners in various colors and patterns, and most were incredibly cheap. If your LARP setting doesn’t have specific heraldry, plain solid color banners would be incredibly easy and quick to make (and if you don’t have a sewing machine, a line of glue would do just fine- a strip of iron-on adhesive or even hot glue can work in a pinch.) I also think they’d make great dressing even just as table runners- a way to brighten up your LARP space and detract from those dull tables you get in university and hotel event spaces. I’ve seen LARPs use table runners draped to cover university crests on podiums- with a fake candle and some chairs arranged in rows, we had a make-shift chapel. I’m half way tempted to go back and pick up a few more, just in case some other LARP could benefit from them.