Are you in need of an affordable but professional way to display your artwork at shows? Here are step-by-step instructions of how I created great looking, lightweight panels for a fraction of the cost of buying a professional display system.
Step 1: Materials List
Here are some things you’ll need before you get started (makes one panel):
- two 2 x 4s (usually sold in eight-foot lengths)
- Gorilla Glue
- Dow Tuff-R 2-inch thick insulation panel (sold in 4′x8′ sheets at Home Depot)
- four long screws (I used 4″ coarse drywall screws)
- black paint
- fabric (about 3 yards depending on width of panel)
- staple gun (with 1/2 inch staples)
My total expense per panel was about $54
Step 2: Cut the Insulation Panel
First off, you’ll need to figure out exactly how large your panels should be. You may want to check to see what dimensions will fit easily in your car. For my panels, I cut the insulation down to 38″ wide by 54″ high. You also have to account for the width and height of the 2x4s you’ll be attaching. I found the easiest way to cut the insulation panel is by using a serrated kitchen knife. It’s best to use a ruler while cutting so you get a perfectly straight cut.
Step 3: Attach the Legs
At this point you’ll need to figure out how high you want your finished panel to be and cut the 2x4s accordingly. For my display, I chose to make the height 6 feet, so I cut the 2x4s to 6-foot lengths with a miter saw. I also drilled holes on the sides of the 2x4s for the drywall screws (use long, coarse drywall screws so they grab the insulation, two on each side). These screws basically help hold the insulation panel, wood and glue together. Before screwing them into the insulation, use Gorilla Glue in-between the 2×4 and the insulation panel. This is an important step because the Gorilla Glue will expand in a matter of minutes to make a very tight bond between the wood and the panel (Gorilla Glue is great stuff, just don’t get it on your hands–it’s tough to get off!) Once the glue has dried, paint the legs (I used Rust-oleum flat black enamel paint).
Step 4: Wrap with Fabric
Try to choose a fabric that is fairly heavy and in a color that will provide a neutral background for your art. I chose a dark gray fabric for my panels that I bought at a discount fabric store for $1.99/yard–cheap! Black is a good color too but tends to show dirt more. You also want to make sure the fabric width is wide enough to cover the length of your panel.
If you’re good at gift wrapping, this will be a breeze, sort of. Basically you want to cover the panel with the fabric as neatly as possible, stapling the fabric to the 2×4 while making sure the fabric is tight. Use one piece of fabric to wrap around the entire panel. The only visible staples should be at the back of the panel. This step isn’t too difficult, but you do want to take your time.
After you’ve wrapped and stapled the fabric to the 2x4s, it’s a good idea to screw down the corners with shorter drywall screws to help keep the fabric from coming off. Don’t worry too much about how the top and bottom corners look–they won’t be that noticeable once the display is standing upright.
Step 5: Add Hinges
So I’m sure all this time you were wondering how this panel would stand up on its own. Well, it won’t. That’s why you need to make at least two panels. Simply hinge them together with two heavy-duty door hinges and you have your very own display system.
You can hang your artwork in a number of ways from these panels. I use cubicle clips for my lighter items–these have two pins that allow you to hang them from the fabric without damaging the panel underneath (you can get these at any office supply store like Staples). If you have heavier items, you can buy or make cubicle hooks that hang over the top edge of the panel.
I hope this helps you create a professional display for your artwork.