Step 1: Materials, Tools and Cost
Materials (can all be found at any hardware store or your garage):
4' length of PVC
Two elbows and two tees (same size as the PVC you are using)
Four alligator clips (I liked the ones in the Electronic's section at Lowe's)
Framing/picture hanging wire (or something similar)
4 small nuts
Invisible thread (for photos later)
Tools I used:
Hacksaw or PVC cutter
Drill and 3/32 bit
Measuring tape or ruler
Sharpie or pencil for marking the PVC
*Visegrip is not necessary but extremely helpful.
I wanted a stand that was about 12"-14" high, and about 10" wide. I used 1/2" PVC because it is small, lightweight and easy to cut (plus, I had it lying around to build a larger softbox). The only things I actually had to go out and buy were the alligator clips and more PVC.
Step 2: Measure and Cut PVC
PVC dimensions that I used:
Two 12" lengths, two 2" lengths and one 9" length
The reason I only used two small lengths for the "feet" is because I noticed, while shooting, that anything behind can show up, and might be in my way in the photo. Besides, two little feet in the front is still really stable, I promise! You can always add on for your needs.
Step 3: Drilling PVC
Drill the PVC where your marks are, going all the way in and then through the other side. This is where the visegrip comes in very handy, as you can stabilize the PVC while drilling it, and have pretty perfectly lined-up holes. (Not that this is totally critical, but it is nice.) If you are not using a visegrip, the plastic clamps with rubber grips work OK with a piece of scrap wood (c-clamps don't grip the PVC well unless you want to risk crushing the PVC). If you don't have access to any of the above, I have had success only using a piece of scrap wood, by very carefully holding the PVC to the wood and drilling until I hit the wood. But I really recommend a visegrip, as it is much easier and safer!
Step 4: Making Hanging Alligator Clips
The alligator clips I purchased had a convenient little channel with outlets in them and a screw to tighten down to whatever was being attached to them. Loosen the screw on the clip, cut a generous length of framing wire and insert it into the channel (leaving a good long tail outside), out an outlet, and wind it around the screw. Take the remaining length of wire and insert it back behind and jam it down back into the channel so it won't poke you later. Pull on the long end with your pliers to tighten it good, then tighten the screw down. Do all four, and then go find some ice for your fingers.
Step 5: Secure the Hanging Clips
Once they are all in, grab a nut and run the wire through it. Take the wire and loop it back through the nut, holding the nut flush to the PVC and the alligator clip tight so as to not have much extra wire between the clip and the PVC. (A little tiny bit is good, but not much.) Pull the wire tight, trim it down, and smash the ends so they won't poke you.
Step 6: Finishing Up
To use, cut a length of invisible thread and hang anything you want, using the clips to hold the ends of the thread. When photographed, it will look suspended in midair!