Category Archives: red tent film

A story of Pregnancy & Death

I’m 24 weeks pregnant and it’s a girl! And she is living in the most fabulous Red Tent that I have ever created. The story of my pregnancy began back in October 2015, when I was at wrapping up a 3-year long Red Tent movie tour having hosted more than 1000+ screenings & Red Tents. My grand finale was at the Parliament of World Religions, where I was co-facilitating a 6-day long Red Tent with ALisa Starkweather and Giuliana Serena for over 8,000 people. At this conference, I met this most extraordinary grandmother elder who I greeted with such love. She said to me, “You are my mother.” A spiritual seed was planted.

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After this conference, my time traveling ended and it was time to settle down with my fabulous husband and start the next “stage” of our life. I had intended to get a temporary, “normal” job in Chicago for about a year and start a family. And once the baby was born, I would be a stay-at-home mom for a year or so. But things didn’t really work out as I planned. As my level of frustration increased, one day in early February everything changed. Within a 24-hr period, I found out that I was officially pregnant and that my friend Lydia Ruyle was dying of a brain tumor.

Image of the Tarot Card I got everyday for a few weeks. Image courtesy of Katherine Skaggs.

Image of the Tarot Card I got everyday for a few weeks. Image courtesy of Katherine Skaggs.

My first sign of pregnancy was not that I had missed a period; it was that my morning tarot card was the water child (see photo) everyday for like 2-3 weeks. When I found out that I was pregnant and that my friend was dying, I said to my husband, I want to go to Colorado for the next few months and film the end of my friend’s life. Lydia was a matriarch of a global sisterhood and I have always wanted to make a movie about her, but the timing was never right over the past 10 years. Lydia is the reason why I make the kinds of movies I make. She has always supported me and said that the world needs the kinds of movies I wanted to make. She has been a huge guiding force in my professional life and for that I will always be grateful. With my husband’s blessing, I left for Colorado to film Lydia. I was greeted with tremendous support of Lydia’s incredible husband, her daughters and son, and her niece. Filming Lydia was a deeply profound experience for me, and of course she was extremely excited to find out that I was pregnant. I captured a truly amazing story about her life and her death, and I look forward to the time when I turn it into a movie for you all to see. Lydia lived her life with such gusto and she always wanted to encourage others to let their light shine too!

Dr. Isadora, Lydia Ruyle, and ALisa Starkweather in the Red Tent at the Parliament of World Religions

Dr. Isadora, Lydia Ruyle, and ALisa Starkweather in the Red Tent at the Parliament of World Religions

As my time with her came to an end in March, my morning sickness and debilitating nausea were taking hold of my life. And for the past several months, I retreated to my house, which is why not many people have heard from me on social media, phone or email. To this day, I still have nausea. It’s been a difficult pregnancy. But she’s healthy and kicking up a storm in utero. My due date is October 23rd. So she may be a Libra or a Scorpio, we shall see. She will be the 4th generation of matriarchal zodiac cusp women, since my birthday is May 22nd, my mother’s is August 22nd, and my grandmother’s was April 21st. We have yet to pick a name, but I know that it’s going to be something AMAZING!

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Les Choses dont on ne parle pas

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“Les Choses dont on ne parle pas : histoires de femmes sous la tente rouge” est un documentaire innovant de 72 minutes, réalisé par le Dr Isadora Gabrielle Leidenfrost, et maintes fois récompensé. Espace de liberté et de spontanéité, une tente rouge est un endroit fait de tissus rouges dans lequel les femmes se rassemblent pour se reposer, pour renaître et souvent pour partager des histoires personnelles, puissantes et profondes. En offrant un lieu qui honore et célèbre les femmes et en permettant une liberté de parole sur des sujets qui sont au cœur même de la vie des femmes, le mouvement des Tentes rouges change la façon dont les femmes communiquent entre elles et se soutiennent les unes les autres. Les Choses dont on ne parle pas rassemble certains récits de guérison partagés sous la tente rouge et met en évidence une énergie vitale, une nouvelle tradition de femmes. Le film nous donne l’occasion de nous souvenir, d’écouter, de comprendre et de trouver ce en quoi nous devons investir pour insuffler une nouvelle vie à la communauté et aider la voix des femmes à s’élever.
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Magical Moments and Safe Spaces during Spring 2015 Red Tents and Movie Screenings

by Jayleigh Lewis

Dr. Isadora’s recent travels took her to Michigan, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Wisconsin, where she attended Red Tent events both large and small. From an assembly of highly educated women at a psychology graduate school to a gathering of priestesses at an annual spiritual conference, the Red Tent brought magic and inspiration to all.

The filmmaker of Things We Don’t Talk About (otherwise known as the Red Tent movie) visited the Michigan School of Professional Psychology in Farmington Hills, Michigan (a northwestern suburb of Detroit), on April 26, 2015. She was there at the invitation of Ciera Bies, a doctoral student of Dr. Betz King, who is the coordinator of MiSPP’s master’s program. Dr. King and Dr. Isadora met in 2010 at a conference of the Association for the Study of Women and Mythology, of which the two are members. Dr. Isadora was giving a presentation of the research that would eventually become the Red Tent movie; Dr. King was offering a workshop on menstruation ritual. Dr. Isadora was intrigued by the workshop and, when offered the opportunity, attended and had a great time.

MiSPP is a small, independent graduate school that was founded in 1980 as the Center for Humanistic Studies. The campus is four acres but all classes are held in the same building. Students, as part of their degrees, are required to organize events that bring presenters to campus; since Ciera’s doctoral work is aligned with Dr. Isadora’s Red Tent work (which itself was a doctoral dissertation, the first non-written dissertation allowed by the University of Wisconsin!), Dr. Isadora was a natural choice of presenter.

The event sold out with between 75 and 100 women in attendance. It was a highly organized, professional affair. A silent auction consisting of 100 donated items raised $500, which was used to help pay the cost of the gathering. Additionally, 25-30 community organizations and businesses were sponsors, with advertising featured in the programs that were handed out to attendees. During the first half hour, women were free to socialize, participate in the auction, and enjoy catered food before sitting down to watch the movie.

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The large atrium space was also host to a post-screening Red Tent, during which it was revealed that the majority of the women present held master’s degrees, while half held PhDs. It was a very educated audience! Strangely enough, the school’s regulations stipulated that the male janitorial staff had to hang the Red Tent; this was done on the Friday prior to the screening. The Red Tent stood ready all weekend, just waiting for the women.

Dr. Isadora at the permanent Red Tent in Lousiville, KY

Dr. Isadora at the permanent Red Tent in Louisville, KY

On May 8, Dr. Isadora attended a much smaller screening at a yoga studio in Clarksville, Tennessee, called Yoga Mat. On the way to Clarksville, Dr. Isadora took a detour to the famous, permanent Red Tent in Louisville, KY, where she spent the night in the Red Tent. It was a fantastic space created by Amy and Rebecca, where they host bi-weekly Red Tent events for women and girls. For more info visit:  http://www.redtentlouisville.com/

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Clarksville, TN is home to a large military base, and the town’s culture mostly revolves around it. The yoga studio might be one of the only local places able to attract a crowd that would be interested in the Red Tent movie! The screening was sponsored by the studio’s owners: Trish, Erika, Amanda, and Erin. Approximately 20 women attended, filling the space. An unofficial Red Tent followed, during which the women participated in a discussion initially prompted by questions about the movie but largely self-directed. The women explored aspects of the experience of being a stay-at-home mom, with some women speaking from the perspective of moms who wanted to stay at home with their kids but couldn’t, and some speaking from the perspective of moms who do stay at home but want to work.

Recently, Dr. Isadora has been making Red Tent movie rentals available online for $1 on specific dates which are announced in advance. May 9 was one of those dates. For 24 hours renters could watch the movie as many times as they wanted. For upcoming dates when you can take advantage of this opportunity (and to buy your rental ticket), go to the upcoming screenings page. The next two dates are June 13 and July 11.

For the second time in two years, Dr. Isadora was invited to the Priestess Gathering of the Re-formed Congregation of the Goddess, International (RCGI), held in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin. This year’s gathering took place during the weekend of May 15-17. The RCGI, co-founded in 1983 by Lynnie Levy and Jade River, is a legally recognized religion dedicated to positive spiritual growth for all people and especially for women. It is an endorser of the film. Last year’s Gathering included a film screening as well as a Red Tent that was raised for the duration; this year there was no screening but a beautiful Red Tent and Dr. Isadora hosted a Red Tent workshop.

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Built by Dr. Isadora and 2 incredible helpers, this year’s Red Tent was grander and bigger than last year’s. It included several nooks and crannies, including an “inner sanctum” encircled by a larger outside space. Many women commented that they enjoyed this layout; even though the Red Tent as a whole could hold about 10 people at a time, those inside felt such coziness and privacy that they could almost imagine that they had the whole Tent to themselves! Dr. Isadora already has a vision for next year’s Red Tent: a two-story stairwell, including a loft area, will be incorporated into it. The stairwell will become a “birth canal”-like tunnel of red fabric, and the loft’s balcony will allow women to look down on the lower portion of the Tent. Additionally, Barb, who every year creates wonderful, elaborate altars for the Gathering, has agreed to build a Red Tent altar of all natural materials. Those who heard about this plan are very excited and can’t wait for next year!

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Dr. Isadora noted one very special moment that took place during the Gathering, a moment so touching that, for her, it was “the one thing I was supposed to do that weekend” and by itself was enough to make her glad she had showed up. She had offered the veil dancing ritual (where a few women lie on the floor while the rest of the group dances around them with veils, eventually laying the veils down on the women and resting them there for a short time until slowly and gently lifting them back off) in the Red Tent, and about 13 women had participated. One woman had very much wanted to attend but hadn’t been able to. Following her intuition, Dr. Isadora offered to do the ritual again that night just for her.

Later, after the main event of the evening, Dr. Isadora was sitting at a picnic table with a group of women eating fruit, including the woman who wanted the veil ritual. She got up to go do the ritual, and all of the women at the table joined her! A spontaneous, magical moment that no one could have planned followed as the women danced with and honored their sister. Being a woman who does not fit many traditional feminine norms, she was deeply touched to feel this kind of support from other women. After the ritual, the group played the song “How Could Anyone” (“How could anyone ever tell you you were anything less than beautiful? How could anyone ever tell you you were less than whole?”) and sang the words directly to her. In that moment, nothing could have been more perfect.

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My Mother Told Me…

What messages did your mother give you about being a Woman?
What messages are you offering your daughter about being a Woman?
What legacy would you like to pass-on Today’s Girls?

Help me celebrate Mother’s Day! Join us in the virtual “Red Tent” for a special episode of Red Tent TV featuring a provocative conversation with Dr. Isadora & her mother (Teresa Moorehouse) as they give you their answers to the questions above.


This video was originally created for the ‘Red Tents In Every Neighborhood’ 2nd Annual World Summit. The Global Summit’ drew more than 5,000 women from all over the world during February 2015, and featured speakers from the U.S.A, Spain, Germany, U.K, Italy, Ireland, Israel, New Zealand, and Australia. Participants from around the world felt transformed, inspired, and ready to start a Red Tent in their neighborhood – as a result of the summit!

After you’ve watched the episode, I’d love to know…How would you answer the above questions.

If you liked this video, subscribe to our channel & sign up for our free weekly episodes of Red Tent TV at http://www.redtent.tv/

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Women’s History and the Red Tent Movement: Provocative Questions at Georgia Screenings

by Jayleigh Lewis

From Latin American countries to college campuses, March 2015 was a lively month for screenings of the Red Tent movie, Things We Don’t Talk About. On March 5th, the film came to Harvard University’s Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, while on the 12th a screening was hosted by the Feminist Collective of Northeastern Illinois University. A hemisphere away, the Parque de la Herradura Barrio Miraflores in Cali, Colombia, was the site of another screening on March 15; on March 28th the movie came to Talca, Chile, and the Casa de la Luna.

It is fitting that for Women’s History Month (celebrated every March in the U.S.) the movie traveled so widely and was embraced by those seeking to preserve and understand the story of the role of women in the world. The Red Tent movement continues to grow, to define its place in women’s history. It both complements and enhances other women’s movements of the present and past. The movie, as a readily accessible icon of the movement, inspires questions that help to clarify the unique contributions of the Red Tent.

March 27 in Canton, GA, hosted by the Youniquely Woman Red Tent community

March 27 in Canton, GA, hosted by the Youniquely Woman Red Tent community

Dr. Isadora, the filmmaker, attended two screenings in Georgia this past March, at which these questions took center stage. The first was on March 27 in Canton, GA, hosted by the Youniquely Woman Red Tent community. This dedicated group of women has been meeting monthly for about a year in a permanent Red Tent located in the home of Crystal Starshine. Since Canton is a rural community located in the hill country north of Atlanta, some women have a commute of over an hour! This screening, which included a potluck meal and a Red Tent talking circle, was attended by about 10 women; overall, it was relaxed and low-key. The talking circle was an opportunity for honest, open conversation and healing. Dr. Isadora particularly enjoyed the informal feel of the post-screening Q + A—instead of standing in front of the group as a presenter, she sat in a circle with the women and engaged in an intimate, collaborative conversation about the movie and the Red Tent. (An interesting anecdote: Dr. Isadora dreamed about attending this screening a few days before her arrival. When she shared this with Crystal, who, among other things, is a professional psychic, the two speculated that perhaps they had been unconsciously in communication prior to the event. A possible reason for the comfort and ease Dr. Isadora felt?)

March 28, in Atlanta. The First Existentialist Congregation of Atlanta

March 28, in Atlanta. The First Existentialist Congregation of Atlanta

The second Georgia screening took place the next day, March 28, in Atlanta. The First Existentialist Congregation of Atlanta, an independent philosophical and spiritual community, co-hosted and provided the space. Also co-hosting were Charis Books (one of the first feminist bookstores in the U.S.) and Charis Circle, the educational and nonprofit arm of the bookstore. This screening was well-attended, with about 50 people present. Two of the attendees, Mary Ann and Drea, are good friends of Dr. Isadora and longtime supporters of the Red Tent movie; they were instrumental in arranging this screening. (They also partnered with Dr. Isadora a couple years ago to host the largest screening to date of Things We Don’t Talk About: it was sold out with approximately 250 women present!) Mary Ann is actually featured in the movie, speaking about her choice not to have children.

This screening’s audience was composed largely of politically active women, many of whom had been involved in consciousness raising groups in the 60s and 70s. They were keenly interested in issues of feminism and how feminist values are represented in the movie. Some tough, thought-provoking questions were asked during the Q + A. Dr. Isadora was kept on her toes as the questions brought out the scholar in her and invited everyone present to truly think about issues such as diversity within the Red Tent movement. Is the movement truly welcoming to all women everywhere, or does it only (perhaps unconsciously) reach a subset of women? Are the women portrayed in the movie truly representative of the larger Red Tent movement? Whose stories aren’t being told? Does the Red Tent movement acknowledge its debt to other women’s movements, particularly those of the past and the work of older feminists?

These questions can be answered in many ways, and the larger discussion is ongoing. On this particular occasion, the women and Dr. Isadora, through honest discussion, concluded that the Red Tent movement is indeed growing in diversity and that it crosses many racial, social, and religious boundaries. The movie was filmed in 2009 and 2010 and provides a snapshot of the movement during those years. Between then and now, the movement has spread and now embraces, for example, women who primarily speak Spanish or French (the movie is subtitled in those languages) and whose native cultures are very different from the English-speaking Caucasian women who are well represented in the movie.

While the film does not overtly address connections between the Red Tent movement and the larger women’s movement, since its focus is on the Red Tent, these connections very much exist, and Dr. Isadora believes that Red Tents represent what women want now. Each wave of feminism brought with it much-needed changes in women’s lives, sometimes in an attempt to rebalance the effects of previous changes. We are now in the third wave of feminism, when women are realizing that the stress of “having it all” (family, work, etc.) is causing them to become alienated from themselves and each other. The Red Tent, Dr. Isadora believes, brings women back to themselves and brings back women’s community.

What do you think about these crucial questions? If you have seen the Red Tent movie, do you think it accurately represents women and women’s communities? How would you add your voice to the discussion?

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January and February Red Tents and Movie Screenings: Warmth and Community in the Midst of Winter

by Jayleigh Lewis

Dr. Isadora, filmmaker of the Red Tent movie, Things We Don’t Talk About, resumed Red Tent hosting and film screening attendance in January and February 2015, after a brief hiatus. As she reconnected with the women of her local Chicago community and traveled to Milwaukee for a screening co-organized by a Midwest Women’s Herbal Conference attendee, screenings were also taking place in other parts of the country and world.

Of particular note were the screenings in Las Vegas, Nevada, on January 25, and in Coyhaique, Chile, on February 7. The former took place at the Sophia Center for Goddess Study, a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating men and women about contemporary Goddess traditions. It was well-attended; Dr. Isadora would have been there if not for her prior commitment on that date to the Chicago Red Tent. The latter screening took place at a Chilean women’s festival, Encuentro Ser Mujeres en Patagonia, held at the Centro Cultural Coyhaique. Approximately 300 women attended the festival, reflecting the explosion of interest in Red Tents among women in Latin American countries over the past six months to a year. Since Things We Don’t Talk About is subtitled in Spanish, the film is well-suited to be an introduction to the Red Tent movement in these parts of the world!

On January 25, Dr. Isadora hosted a Red Tent in her Chicago home. She transformed her dining room into a red fabric-draped space which was filled to maximum capacity by the approximately 15 women who attended. Many of the women brought their children; Dr. Isadora makes it a point to welcome moms who can’t always manage to get a babysitter but still need time and space away from their ordinary lives. (One advantage of this is that everyone gets a chance to hold the babies!)

Red Tent Chicago

The event was “loose and flowing,” a time for women to talk and be together in whatever ways they wished. Embodying her commitment to giving back to her community and to honoring the women who show up, Dr. Isadora offered foot rubs to all. She also bonded with the eight-year-old daughter of a friend while painting the little girl’s nails with sparkly polish. It was a gentle and nourishing midwinter gathering.

The February 7 Milwaukee, WI, film screening, which took place at the 5757 Spa Salon, had a similar light and flowing feel. Liz and Cathy were the organizers. Cathy, who works at the salon, had attended the Midwest Women’s Herbal Conference last June and had seen the Red Tent movie there. She happened to have been sitting between a woman in her 80s and a young mother with a baby, and had an inspired moment when she realized that the Red Tent was needed by all generations. After that, she was determined to bring it to the women in her local community.

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The salon, a former doctor’s office, does not have many large spaces (although, in each of its many small rooms, unique inspirational sayings are featured, reminding clients to look for beauty within). In order to clear a space large enough for the screening, the merchandise storage area (which had originally been the waiting room) needed to be emptied, a process which took hours of work. But it was worth it when the women showed up. The event was sold out with approximately 20 women in attendance (including one woman who had driven two hours from Chicago and was glad to find out from Dr. Isadora that there is a Chicago Red Tent community!).

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The post-screening Red Tent, initially slated to last an hour and a half, stretched on for almost three hours; the women did not want to leave! Three activity options were available—henna body painting, chakra aromatherapy, and angel card readings—and in between “appointments” women relaxed, talked, and ate chocolate-covered strawberries in the Red Tent.

Dr. Isadora engaged several women in thought-provoking conversation during this time, bringing to life the spirit of Things We Don’t Talk About by talking about the things women don’t usually talk about! One woman, a nurse at a midwifery clinic, discussed what she knows about infertility and overcoming the fear of having children. Another woman, a salon owner and hairstylist for 30 years, who had been brought to tears by the film, told Dr. Isadora what had so moved her: the depiction onscreen of nonsexual intimate touch. She knows through experience how powerful this kind of touch can be, how it can generate instant trust. When women come to her to get their hair styled, they are often initially uncomfortable with the risk involved in changing their appearance. She has learned to subtly reassure them by unobtrusively massaging their shoulders as they discuss what they want—and thus what was a tension-filled experience becomes a healing experience.

Another conversation touched on a little-discussed aspect of menstruation. Some cultures have menstrual rituals that help to direct the intense energy of this time. Native American women who are menstruating enter moon lodges, because they are seen as too powerful to be part of mundane life; they need to be able to concentrate on ceremony and dreaming. The mikvah is a ritual bath taken by Jewish women that serves as a type of spiritual cleansing and reorientation to the ordinary world after they have finished menstruating. For some women, the Red Tent is a menstrual ritual that can help support and anchor them while they are bleeding. One woman offered the opinion that when women become bloated, “bitchy,” and depressed around the time of their menstruation, it is because they are carrying unresolved grief around the loss of the egg that is passing out of them, grief over the unexpressed potential for life the egg represents. If a woman feels this way, and wants a safe space to get in touch with this inner truth that might otherwise go unacknowledged, the Red Tent as menstrual ritual could be the perfect container for its expression.

Truth and trust were shared, bonds were strengthened, and sacred time was enjoyed during these recent Red Tent gatherings. And more are coming next month! To see a listing of upcoming screenings (including those Dr. Isadora will be attending), go here. If you don’t see one for your area, perhaps you are being called to host one?

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How I made my Red Tent

by Isadora Gabrielle Leidenfrost, PhD

I had a dream that I wanted every screening of “Things We Don’t Talk About” to be in a giant Red Tent that would travel around with me in a 2 suitcases and be big enough for up to 300 people. But how was this going to work logistically?

Red Tent at a screening

The filmmaker’s Red Tent at a screening of “Things We Don’t Talk About”

I have been a participant in the Red Tent movement since it began and I have helped set up many Red Tents and Red Tent Temples. But the set up always took a LONG time, with hours and hours of labor by numerous women. So how was I going to make it easy to create a huge Red Tent for a screening if it took so much time to create a small one for only 20 women? As I thought about it, one problem that always came up with building the Red Tent was the different size fabrics. The fabrics were often donated curtains, sheets, or yardage. Most yardage is 44 inches or 56 inches wide. While some of the pieces were very long, they were also very narrow and could not cover an entire wall.

How to create it?

I created large panels of fabric that were all the same size and could cover a wall very quickly and without much thought to the design (when it was being hung). So from March 2012 to May 2012, I had an opportunity to have a studio space at the Helen Louise Allen Textile Collection, a fabric museum, at the University of Wisconsin-Madison while I was finishing my PhD and the film. It wasn’t really a studio space, it was more of an empty room with a large bulletin board so I could pin up the different fabrics and create the design for the panels. Almost all of the fabric that I used to create my panels where donated, found at the thrift store, or purchased cheaply on Ebay. The decorative materials that I purchased on Ebay were Indian Sari and Uzbek Suzani. Which were both large and inexpensive ways of adding beautiful fabrics to the plain yardage.

Having spent many summers with my grandmother, who was a talented quilter, I have some sewing and design skills. If this is not a talent you have, my suggestion is to reach out to your friends and family members. There must be someone in your community that can sew and that could help you. Basically the gist of it is to take all of the small pieces of fabric and sew them together in a pattern that you like so that it saves time when you put up your Red Tent. I have found that it takes about 5 minutes to put up one of my panels. For your space, wouldn’t it be nice if you had a beautiful Red Tent that could go up in about 20 minutes or less?

My panels are 15 feet wide by 13 feet tall. I chose 13 feet tall for myself because most ceilings at either 8 feet or 12 feet and I wanted to make sure that my panels would drape on the floor a little bit if I was in a 12 foot space. As for why I created my panels 15 feet wide, that was the size of my bulletin board, but you can chose any width. I would suggest maybe at least 10 feet wide.

Here are examples of some of my Red Tent panels.

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To see more example of what the panels look like in different screening venues click here.

How to Hang it?

The second problem that I found with setting up numerous Red Tents was how to hang the fabric. Most groups use thumbtacks or staples to hang the fabric on the wall. But this was a not a good solution for me because I want to do 400 screenings of “Things We Don’t Talk About.” If I put a thumbtack into my fabric that many times it would shred the fabric after just a few events. I also wanted to be gentle on the space and not put a million holes in the wall. So I put grommets along the top edge of all of my panels at intervals of 1 foot. So there are 15 grommets in each panel.

Grommets

Grommets

I hang my Red Tent using 1 of 2 methods:

  • My favorite is using a 3” binder ring, which I purchased from Office Depot. I put the binder ring through the grommet and then I clip or hang the ring onto things in the space like the grid for a drop ceiling, poles, wall sconces, crown molding, nails already in the space, window frames, etc.
  • My other solution is to put a thumbtack into the wall and then hang the grommet on the thumbtack. I don’t often use this method because I don’t like to leave holes in the wall, but when this is my only option I have found that a thumbtack every 3 feet is sufficient.

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