These are plans to build four portable backdrops using PVC pipe for the frames which are covered with black curtains, for use in low-budget theater productions. The backdrops are each 5 feet wide and 8 feet high, and can be easily repositioned. They are designed so they can be right next to each other at an angle. Sandbags may be needed to weigh down each backdrop by placing them on the back legs (online plans for cheap sandbags).
Download my original plans in PDF form for a handy, print-outable reference.
General materials needed
PVC material for each frame
- 1.25” PVC and fittings available from local home improvement stores
- Mitre box and mitre saw or hacksaw to use for cutting PVC pipe
- Measuring tape and marker (or masking tape) to accurately mark locations for cuts
- PVC primer and cement
- Fine sand paper to rough surface of PVC prior to spray painting
- Black spray paint specifically for painting plastic
- Four 5’x8’ black curtains (purchased online?)
PVC material for each frame
- 3 x 10’ lengths of 1.25” PVC pipe
- 4 elbow connectors (90 degree)
- 2 cross connectors
- 4 end caps
Cutting PVC Pipes
Cut the following lengths of PVC pipe:
Cuts for each 10’ length of PVC pipe:
Pipe 1: [ 7’8” ][ 12” ][ 16” ]
Pipe 2: [ 7’8” ][ 12” ][ 16” ]
Pipe 3: [ 4’8” ][ 35” ][8.75”][8.75”][ 12” ]
*One 12” piece is leftover
- Before cutting PVC pipes, determine the dimensions of the curtains you will hang from the frame and adjust sizes of pipe you cut accordingly.
- The feet of the frames are inset about 1 foot from each end so that frames can be positioned next to each other and at an obtuse angle.
- When frames are positioned next to each other, small bulldog clips can be used to join curtains from behind to prevent light leakage.
- Assemble per the photograph and diagram below
- Cement all parts of the base together, and all parts of the top bar
- Do not cement the upright poles so they are removable from the base and top bar
- Take care that the elbow connectors for the upright poles are exactly perpendicular to the floor on which the base rests (tips on doing this are available by searching online)
- Good instructions here: http://www.wikihow.com/Paint-PVC
- Assemble all parts
- Using fine sandpaper (e.g., 220 grit), rough up all surfaces
- Put the frame outdoors and position so spray paint won’t get on anything it shouldn’t
- Spray a light coat of black paint specifically designed for painting plastic (e.g., Krylon Fusion or Valspar Black Paint for Plastic)
- Allow to dry, then apply one or more additional coats as needed
- Whether purchasing or making sand bags, use two gallon-size or larger zipper plastic bags, one inside the other, to hold the sand.
- This will prevent leakage as the sand bag material is not always completely airtight and sand will definitely leak through the sand bag zippers.
Photos of Materials and Assembly