Primer of Diorama

In this article Elder Rhodes acts as a reporter for a number of men who held evangelistic campaigns last fall. It represents the combined ideas of Charles Hall, Daniel Legitt, Dan Reynolds, Daniel Guild, Bill Henry, Robert Greiner, and the writer. There were a number of others who gathered to observe and who have since been successful in the use of this medium.—Editors

JOHN D. RHODES, Pastor-Evangelist, Southern California Conference

[In this article Elder Rhodes acts as a reporter for a number of men who held evangelistic campaigns last fall. It represents the combined ideas of Charles Hall, Daniel Legitt, Dan Reynolds, Daniel Guild, Bill Henry, Robert Greiner, and the writer. There were a number of others who gathered to observe and who have since been successful in the use of this medium.—Editors.]

Not long ago about a dozen ministers gathered in the Pasadena, California, church to compare notes on diorama and to compare methods they had used to il­lustrate the various doctrines. We had laid our plans together around the ropes at camp pitch, and immediately following camp meeting last summer we began to execute them. We formed our own committees. One man was to look into a source of paper, another into getting discounts on black-light lamps and paints, et cetera.

We went to the Black Light Corporation of Hollywood and had a personal introduction to the ways in which this medium can be used. There are several types of fluorescent ma­terials: chalk (none of us used this, since it gives an appearance of snow falling under the black light), visible paints, and invisible paints. These paints come in both oils and tempora. We chose oils, as they are more durable in constant use.

There are also fluorescent ribbons, both fab­ric and plastic. The cloth ribbons were used to make lines across the board, as in illustrating the 2300 days. We found that the way to give the best effect was to make the fluorescent rib­bon the same length as the board. Another ribbon of the same width in black fabric was then sewn to both ends of the fluorescent length. This makes a circular band around the diorama board. (We later added a bit of black elastic ribbon, about six inches in length, which helped keep the ribbon tight against the board.) The fluorescent ribbon was kept at the back of the board, the black ribbon in front, not noticeable against the black board. At the proper moment the fluorescent ribbon was pulled around to the front for the desired length of the diagram. We left a tab of the black ribbon where the two lengths joined, which allowed the speaker to find it by feeling and gain an easy grasp. As he pulled the colored ribbon around, it appeared almost as though he had pulled fire out of a hole.

Cans of spray paint can be used to achieve halo effects by using the spray to feather out over a masked picture. There are also the fluo­rescent papers. We all agreed that we preferred the ten-point stock of Velva-Glo. In Los Angeles we secured this through our paper wholesaler, the Zellerbach Corporation, which set up ac­counts with all of our men who wanted to use their papers. We went to a sign company and bought alphabets of their cardboard letters in three sizes: a large 4-inch letter, a 3-inch letter, and a smaller 11/4-inch letter. This last we found very practical for our use, as it could still be seen in halls seating up to five hundred, which was a good attendance for most of us. These letters were merely patterns for tracing on the fluorescent paper.

The Dorcas Society Helped

We found our lay women most cooperative. Three special days were held with the Dorcas Society. I had twenty-nine talks worked out, with all the printing that would be needed to illustrate them. I took large Manila envelopes that contained the right-sized letters, the par­ticular color of paper they were to be cut from, and the exact statement I wanted to make. The task was complete when the letters were traced, cut out, and replaced in the envelope.

We organized our ladies in teams. One group did nothing but make the initial layouts of the sentences. When a sentence was drawn out, it was cut in pieces small enough to fit back into the envelope. We found it less distressing to the eyes to trace the letters on the back of the paper. However, the letter to be traced should be placed upside down to be drawn on the back of the paper.

Another group of ladies did the cutting. Here we organized further in that we had some ladies cut the outside of the letters with sharp scis­sors while others cut the inside of the letters, like the hole in the letter "0," with a sharp X-Acto knife. This can be purchased at any hobby shop.

At this point another group of ladies pasted the letters in sentences onto a paper called Potomac Velour. This is a black backing material that would adhere to the flannel board and support our sentences. It is flocked on one side with a suede finish that adheres to the board. But this suede paper was not black on the smooth side. (Nonfluorescent colors, while they do not fluoresce, do tend to reflect the purple of the black light; thus a black surface is needed.) Our next step, then, was to find some material to coat this paper with that would dry quickly and leave it a flat black on which to paste our fluorescent letters. We discovered a product called "dead flat black lacquer" produced by the Felton, Sibley Sc Co., Inc. It is used by industry to give the wrought-iron look to hobby materials. Finally comes the pasting, and we found the white emulsion type of rubber cement to be best for this pur­pose.

Making Illustrations

As to the artists' illustrations of sundry items (from beasts to a picture of the devil), we discovered three ways that require but little talent. And most of us found church members ready and willing to help. One was to take a ready-made paper picture and superimpose fluorescent colors over those already there, using several strips of the Potomac Velour paper to back the illustration and give it adhering qual­ity. Another way was to project a slide on the wall to just the desired size for your board. We fixed a piece of white cardboard on the wall with tacks, traced the picture desired with pen­cil, and then filled in with fiuourescent paints of the colors that would achieve our effect. A third way was to use a drawing prism, advertised in many hobby magazines. With this, one looks through the top of the prism and sees a ghost image of the thing he is copying on the paper below him.

After the object is traced, it is colored as indicated. We found that all fluorescent paints show up best when painted on a white background. In fact, the Black Light Corpora­tion sells a "backing white" paint. To achieve best results it is well to paint under fluo­rescent light. This en­sures correct color ren­dition. Colors change a great deal when they react to the light. We found too that rather than cut out the details, say of an angel's wing, it is better to use the flat black lacquer to make the black outline around a picture. From a distance it appears that the object is actu­ally cut out rather than painted out.

Auditorium lighting was another problem to be solved. Here we prof­ited as much as possible from the FoIkenberg brothers, who pioneered in this medium for evan­gelistic use. We found, as they had, that a green light should glow from the back of the board, giving a softening effect much like the halo light in TV. From here the ideas differed among the men according to the halls in which they used the black-light demonstrations. One man who held a tent effort had it arranged so that a rheostat dimmed down the lights each time he used the diorama, and he used it more as a review. Another used it at the close of his sermon to summarize the sermon thought for the evening. Another man never placed his own illustrations, but spoke from the desk while an assistant placed the diorama illustrations on the board; at the same time there were slides showing above him on a screen pointing up the statements made.

I always placed my own diorama illustrations on the board. The pulpit was at my right, the diorama in the center, and off to the left was. thescreen. An assistant flashed the pictures on the screen as I indicated by a hand signal switch.

In the auditorium I had two 150-watt bulbs. with reflectors aimed at the ceiling. These were controlled from a desk rheostat. This gave a soft light in the auditorium that allowed me to see the reaction on the faces of the people and still be in enough darkness for the diorama to work properly. I could also be seen and my face was not in darkness as I walked to the diorama board. With a 1,000-watt projector, the slides showed up well. Thus from the time I began to speak there was no dimming or lighting of lights. They remained constant and yet I could see the audience reaction.

Most of us agreed that it was best to use fewer picture illustrations on the screen. We used mostly actual screen Bible texts. In fact, three of us holding meetings felt so keenly the need of the combination of Bible texts on the screen with the diorama that we each bought the sixteen hundred texts from Visualades Consolidated.

A Variety of Glowing Colors

Mixing paint was a problem. We found there was no such thing as a fluorescent brown. How, then, could one make a tree trunk, or show the brown earth in a scene of the United States in prophecy? We discovered that by taking the brown colors in oil and mixing them with just 2. bit of the fluorescent colors, just enough of the fluorescent color will shine through to give the brown a high light. We found the fluores­cent yellows to be most suitable for this purpose. To make various shades of purple, one can take purple oil colors and tone them with flourescent -white.

Some of our figures were made simply by cut­ting out the outline of the thing desired, then shading with nonfluorescent paint. For instance, in illustrating the millennium, the devil was cut out of red fluorescent paper, black tem­pera was smeared over it for shading, and bold lines were added in black. One man wanted .a world showing where the devil would be -chained for the millennium. The background of the nations of earth was put on in tones of black shading, and the meridian lines were made by pasting on strips of yellow fluorescent paper.

An evangelist can store a whole series of illustrations in a small area of his garage or study. I made a box 40 inches long, 30 inches Thigh, and 12 inches wide, open at the top. If I were to make it again I would make it about 18 inches wide. By putting two large cardboard sheets together and taping them on three sides, leaving the top open, I made folders, putting the illustrations for each topic in a separate folder. When illustrations were longer than forty inches they were always cut and hinged together with Mystic tape. This never shows -to the audience and makes storage much easier. In this box I stored materials for some twenty-nine talks.

God has wonderfully used this medium to His glory, but we do not feel that it is to be considered "black magic," instead of black light, in getting attendance and winning souls. Net it is a fine visual aid, especially when used in combination with text slides, and has proved to be an effective means of illustrating truth.


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JOHN D. RHODES, Pastor-Evangelist, Southern California Conference

July 1955

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