Friday, October 26, 2012

DIY art display tutorial–weekend project

021Just in case you find yourself wanting to exhibit at an art fair and have nothing to hang your art on, can’t invest $1,000 (or more) in a fancy-schmancy professional system, and can devote a weekend to making it yourself, here’s a sturdy option that is really cheap and easy.  All the supplies for this cost less than $100.
I signed up for an art fair without having the faintest idea how I would show my art.  Since I had to hang some mosaics, I needed something sturdy but lightweight enough to transfer without a moving crew, but it had to be attractive.  It really bugs me to see lovely art hanging on an ugly wall – it distracts from the art in a big way.  I only used half the available display space – assuming you leave 1.5 feet at the bottom uncovered, you get over 82 square feet of display area with this if you use both sides.
I couldn’t afford the commercial options, as wonderful as some of them looked, so I spent a couple of days searching the internet for do-it-yourself ideas.  Most of them were either too ugly or seemed like it would be chancy to hang a heavy mosaic on them.  So I went to Lowe’s in a brain fog and started wandering the aisles.
I came across the interior door section and seeing the hollow core doors was my “ah ha!” moment.  They weren’t too heavy or expensive – I chose the 32” wide doors – and they would give a smooth, contemporary look.  By assembling them in a “Z” pattern and having the gaps that naturally occur at the hinges to allow the breeze to pass through, they stood up to a fairly stiff wind on the first day without even a wobble.  And because they are hinged, they fold flat for storage!
So here’s the process:

I brought home 3 doors and sanded them on the back porch.  I don’t have an electric sander of any sort, so this was more time consuming than it had to be.


Next I used Minwax wood finish – the stain and sealer all in one.  I chose the dark walnut finish because I think my art looks best with a dark background, but any finish would look nice.  I only used one coat.  I bought the doors in the morning, sanded and stained them in the afternoon and left them to dry overnight.
004 (2)

The next day I attached the hinges – standard door hinges you would use if you were going to hang the doors in your house. 

006 (2)

The hinges were attached to the skinny sides only, partly for aesthetics and partly because I didn’t want to chance missing the solid wood bracing inside the door.


I assembled them and stood them up to test the sturdiness.

Once I was satisfied that it would work, I hung the art on it so I could work out the arrangement ahead of time.  Since the doors are hollow, I used these kind of hooks – they will hold up to 50 lbs. according to the package, which was more than I needed.  I then removed the art and packed it, folded the doors flat (with the hooks still on them) and loaded everything into the car. 
After the show, I left the hooks on because I’m lazy, but it will be no problem to remove them before the next use to rearrange them.  A little touch of the tinted wood filler you can buy at the hardware store will cover any holes, which are tiny anyway, and the hooks can then be put wherever you need them for the next time.  The doors were folded flat and stored in the garage.
Here’s the breakdown on what I spent:
3 hollow core luan doors $23 ea.       $69.00
2 pkgs. door hinges $8.35 ea.      $16.70
1 qt. Minwax stain and sealer      $ 7.77
2” brush for stain      $ 2.98
                                                                Total (pre-tax)      $96.45
If I were going to use them for an outdoor fair where I had to set them up on grass, I would definitely add some stakes for stability.  My thought is a couple of short pieces of rebar pounded in at each end, which could then be attached to the skinny sides of the doors without being too noticeable.


  1. This was a good suggestion that you put up here...dude…..hope that it benefits all the ones who land up here. 

    Solid Wood Doors

  2. Great idea! I have been struggling with a simple and light way to do this as my last attempt turned out to be way heavy and cumbersome after the first two shows. Thanks!

  3. What a great idea! I was wondering about the hooks... how do they stay "stuck" in the doors if they are hollow? I would really love to make one of these! Thanks for the instructions!!

  4. Those hooks I show above are remarkable - they are designed to hold pictures in dry wall without having to locate a stud. The hook that hangs below the nail distributes the weight really well, and I have had no problems with them staying up.



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