Gauze is a fabric that has a variety of different uses, including transforming theatre stages. Originally woven in Palestine, the English word of ‘Gauze’ derives from the 13th century Palestinian city of Gaza, which was a centre for weaving, especially with silk. Similarly, gauze can also translate to the Spanish word, ‘gasa’ which means silk.
Usually, gauze is made from natural fibres such as cotton, linen and silk. Its loose, open weave gives the illusion that it’s translucent when lit from behind, however when lit from the front, the fabric appears to be opaque.
Initially, gauze was used for clothing, however it now has a variety of different applications.
Gauze is an industry staple in the theatre world due to its light transforming properties that create the ultimate experience for the audience. It can be hung loosely as a backdrop or stretched as a cyclorama, hiding wrinkles and creases.
For medical purposes, gauze is often used for bandages and surgical dressings. When woven with cotton, it doesn’t stick to open cuts, and it can be treated with calamine lotion to promote healing. In surgery, the absorbency of the gauze makes it ideal for soaking up fluids.
Gauze woven with silk is very similar to chiffon, making it an ideal fabric to use for dresses and skirts. It’s extremely soft to the touch and holds excellent colour retention after being dyed.
Cleaning & Care
Caring for clothes made from gauze is relatively straight-forward. You should follow the same routine you take to washing other delicate fabrics, on a low-cycle with similar colours. Avoid drying it in a tumble dryer. Likewise, gauze isn’t a fabric that needs to be ironed, unless it is paired with another type of fabric, so make sure you read the label. When it comes to medical supplies, gauze shouldn’t be cleaned, but should be thrown away after use to avoid risk of spreading infection.
Theatre drapes and stage curtains made from gauze should follow a slightly different cleaning routine. They have to meet flammability standards meaning if anything is spilt or damages the fabric, you should refer to your manufacturer to find out how they can be cleaned.
To explore Whaleys Stages gauze range, head on over to our fabrics page.