Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Instructions on how to build your own outdoor art display panels

This past summer, I participated in my very first outdoor art show. Having scoured the web to find out how people set up their displays, I was a bit disappointed to see that there wasn't much information out there. So I more or less had to invent something (with the help of my wonderful husband, of course...). And hoping that it would come in handy for other artists, I took detailed pictures along the way, which brings me to this blog post!

I'll do my best to give clear instructions, but if you have any questions, feel free to use the Comments section! :)


* A tent or canopy, preferably with walls, in case of inclement weather

* 2 x 4's for the basic construction

* Roll of "wire mesh" that I bought at the hardware store

* Large piece of stretchy black fabric (which you can buy at most "box stores")

* Plastic Washers (found in the Nails dept. of your hardware store)

* Curtain Hooks (Curtain dept. of any store)

* Wood screws (long ones for building your walls; small ones to attach the wire mesh to the walls)

* Hinges (I used 4 - two for the tops, 2 for the bottoms)


First off, set up your tent! If your tent or canopy doesn't already come with walls, you can easily make your own by using a tarp or other whether-resistant material, then using "zip ties" to secure them to the leg posts.

Place your 2 x 4's on the ground, lay them out as needed to create the 2 legs, the top and bottom. Measure and cut your 2 x 4's to the sizes needed for your setup.

Pre-drill all your holes for the basic wall construction, then secure using long wood screws.

Using a pencil or marker, add letters and lines on the 2 x 4's where each of the pieces "meet up". (A -- A, B -- B, etc...). This way, you'll always know which pieces go together, and your holes will always line up whenever you need to take it apart and rebuild for the next show.

Unroll the wire mesh on top of your wall construction, and cut it to size using wire cutters (make sure to wear gloves - this part can be dangerous!)

Attach the wire mesh to the top and sides of the 2 x 4's using small screws and those plastic "discs" (the discs make it more secure and more likely for the wire mesh to stay in place). There's no need to add these to the bottom... you can, but it's extra work for nothing :)

Paint the bottom part of the legs, since this is the only area a person would see after the fabric covers the rest.

When all three legs are done, you can attach the hinges to the tops and bottoms to connect them all together.

Once your three walls are up, wrap the fabric around the mesh, fold and staple it to the backside, making sure everything looks nice and tidy.

I found that the three walls stand up nicely on their own, but I added extra security by zip-tying the 2 outside walls to the top edge of the canopy posts.

Now that you're all done, use the curtain hooks to hang your paintings (one end is sharp, so it goes right through the fabric and hangs on the wire mesh). Use the "U" side of the hook to hang your artwork!

When disassembling my walls, I simply remove the hinges from the two outside walls, unscrew the mesh from the TOP of the wall's structure (leaving it connected to the side legs) then remove the top and bottom 2 x 4's. This way, all I need to do is roll up the two side legs with the mesh attached, which makes everything easier to store and handle.

I hope this proves useful for artists out there. I'm sure there are other ideas out there, but this one happened to work very well for me, not to mention how easy it is for me to assemble and disassemble - without needing much help!

If you find this helpful at all, please leave me a comment! And if you have thoughts on how it can be improved, send your suggestions! :)


Anonymous said...

I love it...You're truly an inspiration. I'm sure this will help those wondering where to start with their first displays or maybe they want to improve on the one they already have.

From a Lynn Cyr Art Admirer :-)

ArtSnark said...

This is great information - thanks for sharing

A Painting a Day by Kristen Stein said...

Lynn - You did an incredible job detailing how you built your outdoor display. Can't believe this is the first time you built it! You're a pro! Looks great and I really appreciate you taking the time to document and detail what you did. It is extremely helpful. Thanks again! -kristen

artbylmr said...

Thanks, Lynn. I hope to do this one day once I get enough pieces together. This info is priceless! I hope you did well at the fair.


Beth Cyr said...

wow lynn! what a great set up!

lupe said...

wow, what a great tutorial.
This is so helpful !
I love how portable the design is, thank you for sharing this.

Lizardo said...

Thanks for including the pictures. That really helps me out!

HammelmanArt said...

Thanks for sharing this!

LeaKarts said...

What a fabulous idea! So much better than toting around wire grid walls around, which are really heavy and never fit into my car very well. Thank you for the tutorial!

Tlenz said...

Excellent Post.thanks for sharing! and your right, theres very little info about how to do this. So many companies that make the panels though and most cost a fortune.
I'm going to making some panels very soon and I'll post on my blog how it goes.

Delores Quade said...

First, I'm thrilled to see this tutorial online (so thank you very much) however, I have 2 questions for you about dissembling the display:

1.) What about the cloth? Remove the staples? Over time does this impact the cloth?

2.) Over time, do the wood holes loosen?

Thanks again! :-)

Lynn Cyr said...

Hi Delores - I'm glad you found this post helpful!

For the cloth, I just remove the staples from the back, either with a staple remover (found in any office supply store), or even with a flat screwdriver, if the staples aren't flush with the wood.

I haven't seen any damage to the cloth yet, but have only used the display a couple of times. However, my fabric is wide and stretchy enough that I can simply staples in a different location each time...

For the wood holes, I don't see that becoming a problem. Perhaps over a long period of time, but I would imagine it'll be quite some time before they loosen up.

Delores Quade said...

Thanks, Lynn. I truly appreciate your help. I'm hoping to follow your directions to a "T" and get similar (if not the same) results. Thanks for getting back to my questions so quickly - you're terrific!

Lynn Cyr said...

You're very welcome!! Please let me know how you make out... and send me photos if you can! I'd love to see the final work.

If you have any other questions, please don't hesitate to ask! :)

Delores Quade said...

Hi Lynn,

One more question for you - are you using a 10x10 EZ tent by chance? If so, (or if not..) do you happen to remember the height and width of each wall for the 2x4's you used?

Thanks a lot!!


Lynn Cyr said...

Oh gosh... that's a tough question! I'm using a Shelter Logic pop-up canopy, and I can't recall if it's a 10'x10, or a 12'x12! So I don't know the exact size of my walls... and it's in storage right now.

I'm doing another show in late July, so once I have it set up, I can give you the exact measurements (if you can wait that long!).

Sorry I can't be more specific with this one... :(

tanya said...

thanks so much for this... really great- i think i will do something like this as well... I will link back to you on my blog if I do!

Lynn Cyr said...

Glad you find it helpfu, Tanya! Definitely let me know how you make out... and make sure to take some photos!

Anne S. Katzeff said...

Thanks for sharing this info.!

Anonymous said...

Thank you, great information!

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