Project Spotlight: The New Williams College Commencement Canopy

A flurry of graduation caps at the Williams College commencement ceremony.

The custom tension canopy used for commencement at Williams College, until its retirement this past year, was our oldest protective Sperry structure still in use.  You can read about the original in this earlier blog entry.   After just over twenty years, the college decided this spring that it was time for a new canopy.

Although the fabric needed to be renewed, the cables and design were still perfect for the commencement ceremony.  With that in mind, we brought in the original canopy and all its hardware.  After designing the new canopy, we laid out the old one on the floor and took many photos of all its hardware and attachments, ensuring that everything would go together in the same way.

Rather than the original green and white, the decision-makers at the college selected a jubilant combination of purple and yellow for the new edition.  The cloth is light and sturdy, our Sperry Tent Cloth in custom colors.

The Williams awning includes over two hundred hand stitched blocks of various sizes.
The Williams awning includes over 200 hundred hand-secured blocks of various sizes.

As in the first canopy, the edges and corners are reinforced well to preserve the structure and prevent stretching. Around the edges are small blocks, which lead lines back and forth across the gap between the canopy itself and heavy stainless steel cables. The intricacies of the lacing are very precise, and controls the tension of the canopy and its placement in the air.

Each block was hand-stitched onto the cables with waxed thread.

The lacing between awning and cable is very important - a snag could become a disaster during set-up.

 The canopy was finished and delivered just in time for commencement, which luckily was held outside with no interference from inclement weather!  For more photos of the event, take a look at the Williams College facebook photo album.

All event photos provided by Williams College.

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