Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Arnold, Richard L., 1928-

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Theatre Arts




Innovations in technology encourage costumers to invent new uses for materials, to improve upon known techniques, and to add dimensions in design. Thus, the paper examines the potentials of plastics and nonwovens for use in costume design. The basic procedure was to establish demonstrable criteria for the use of new materials for costumes. Each category of nonwoven was defined; in addition, each nonwoven's potential use in costumes was discussed. The same procedure was followed for the plastics. The primary conclusions were as follows: 1. Some plastics and nonwovens have application for the theatre in certain limited areas. 2. A more rational means to analyze the nonwovens and plastics would yield beneficial results. The major applications for the plastics utilize the inherent quality of strength or capitalize on the materials' singularity. Stock plastic pieces or tubing may either substitute or improve upon known techniques for the construction of difficult costume parts such as the farthingale or angel wings. Stock pieces or tubing may also act as decorative media for the costumer who desires an "other-world" effect. Transferring an illustration to fabric is useful as decoration. The decoration can be representational or suggestive depending upon the selected illustrations. Preformed rigid foams can represent bulk without weight. Preformed flexible foams can solve padding problems and add decorative dimensions. The mix-in-place and spray-up foams, which can adhere to vertical surfaces can also solve padding problems or aesthetically texture a costume. Impregnating cloth with a plastic results in a superior stiffening and can act aesthetically as a deep texture. The major applications for nonwovens capitalize on their singular qualities. The nonwovens are inexpensive; thus they can be utilized for disposable crowd costumes. Further, aesthetically, the nonwovens, such as Pellon, can represent a new dimension in design. Some nonwovens, such as Corfam, are not commercially available; nonetheless, they have potential for duplicating leather products. Finally, a scientific comparison of textiles or plastics would result in the following benefits: a more rational decision-making process, a more logical allocation of resources, and more meaningful results.


Includes bibliographical references.||Includes illustrations.


iv, 93 pages




Northern Illinois University

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