This guide shows you one way to make a 1/2″ PVC pipe frame for a Modular Art Pod. Once created, you can line the walls with roll plastic, fabric, tarp, or other flexible lightweight materials.
Total cost: $30 to $55
- 6 sticks of 1/2″ PVC pipe, 10′ length, $2.34 per stick
- 8 furniture grade 3-way elbows, 1/2″ (Sold on Amazon.com and in-store at Lowes). $12.50 for a 10-pack.
- Pipe cutter or miter box
- Wall material (ex. 4 mil plastic sheeting, tarp, or fabric)
- Tape measure.
- PVC Glue
- Duct tape or Gorilla tape
Except for the 3-way elbows, you can get all the materials from Home Depot, Lowes, or other home improvement stores. If the 10′ sticks of pipe won’t fit in your car, you can ask an associate to cut them in half for you.
Step 1: Measure and cut pipe
Before you cut the pipe, order the furniture grade 3-way elbows, 1/2″ online or get them in-store at Lowes (not available at Home Depot). If you have access to a 3D printer, you can also download and print my 3-way elbow design on Thingiverse for free.
You want the pipes to measure 48″ with the elbows attached, so calculate how much length you need to deduct for the elbows.
Use the 6 pieces of pipe to cut 12 sections.
Step 2: Attach elbows
Attach the elbows to make your cube. Don’t glue them — you’ll need to break down and reassemble the pod from time to time. Once you have your wall material assembled, you may want to glue the elbows to JUST the four vertical pipes for ease of storage. More on this in a bit.
Step 3: Choose wall and ceiling material
2 mil or 4 mil roll plastic sold in the paint department of home improvement stores makes a great cheap wall material. Clear works well for video back-projecting, black works well for light-proofing.
For more resilience, use fabric. Canvas and burlap are great choices. You can also quilt your walls and ceiling from multiple blocks.
Step 4: Cut material
There are plenty of ways to add wall and ceiling material, the simplest being wrapping the cube like a Christmas present. But the best way for easy breakdown and reassembly is this:
- Cut a section of material for the 4 walls, adding an additional 4″ inches to the sides and 8″ inches to the height.
- Form a loop at the top of the material just big enough to slide through the top pipe. Secure it with tape or thread.
- Stretch the material tight and make a similar loop at the bottom. Cut off any excess material at the bottom.
- Repeat for the other 3 walls and slide the loops through the pipes. Now you can cut any excess material from the sides … or find a way to attach the sides together, such as velcro.
- Cut a section for the ceiling and attach with tape or velcro or whatever works best for your design.
Now you have wall sections you can easily slide off for easy transportation. If you’re painting directly on canvas walls, you can remove the pieces for easy painting.
Step 5: Cut the doors.
Cut doors from two of the wall sections. The doors should be centered on the wall. The minimum door dimensions are 28″ wide by 38″ tall (or 10″ from the sides and 10″ from the top.) For pods with plastic or fabric sides, you can just cut door slits or hanging ribbons to prevent light from other pods entering yours. If you cut a single slit, you should cut it nearly all the way to the top to compensate for diminished width. Remember nothing inside your pod that attendees will crawl through should be smaller than the minimum door size.
Step 6 (Optional): Glue elbows to vertical pipes
You don’t want to glue the elbows to the horizontal pipes because you’ll need to remove them for transport and to slide the material on and off. But you may want to glue the elbows to the vertical pieces. This will prevent them from falling off in transport.
Step 7: The fun part!
Make some art and customize the pod as desired.