Here's an eye-catching piece of outdoor sculpture you can build with minimal tools and time. As it moves in the wind, it projects a changing 2D "surface" from a 3D solid. Confuses "flatlanders" and passersby alike!
Step 1: Bill of Materials
You'll need 12 equal-sized sections of PVC pipe and 12 elbows. You can use whatever size pipe you want, but there's a limit to how long you can make the segments before it gets wobbly and hard to keep things square. I recommend using 1/2" PVC pipe and elbows , and use 6" pipe segments.
The following items are required for the project:
- enough PVC pipe for 12 6' segments; if you buy 2x 5' sections, you'll get 10 pieces from one pipe and 2 from the other.
- 12 PVC elbows
- PVC pipe glue
- ruler for measuring
- marker for marking cuts
- PVC pipe cutter or some other way of cutting the pipe. The pipe cutter has the advantage of no waste in each cut, whereas a saw blade will require compensation for each cut.
The following items are recommended:
- protective rubber gloves
- a clean working surface (the PVC holds a static charge and attracts dirt)
Step 2: Precautions
Note the following precautions before proceeding with construction:
- the PVC glue contains nasty solvents - use it outdoors with the wind blowing away from you
- the PVC cutter is very safe for a cutting tool, but nonetheless it is sharp
Step 3: Mark Your Cuts
If you lay your pipe down next to your ruler, it is easy to mark off the cuts.
Step 4: Make Your Cuts
Here we see the pipe cutter about to make a cut. It helps that you cut the pipe while it is laying down. Otherwise it will bend as it is cut and you'll end up with slanted ends.
Step 5: Clean Your Pipes Before Gluing
The PVC pipe builds up a static charge as it is handled, so wipe and/or blow off any dirt that's attached itself to the pipes and then lay them down on a clean surface. Same goes for the elbows.
Step 6: Construction - Overall
You don't have to be precise when building the sculpture, since it is mostly viewed from a distance. It is enough to eyeball the squareness of each step. Here are a few hints to ensure success:
- use only PVC cement, don't bother with the primer; we're not making water-tight joins here. Glue on each inside surface of the elbow will be more than enough.
- for the next segment in a step, apply glue to the elbow and attach the segment to it. Be sure to push it all the way into the elbow.
- when attaching the next segment, try to line it up squarely and push it all the way into the elbow. You'll have only a few seconds before the glue sets up but you can use the new segment to torque the angle at the elbow if you need to.
- all angles are 90 degrees
Here are all the steps, in case you don't need step-by-step photos:
12. up - finished!
In the following step-by-step instructions, assume in each segment that you first apply to glue to both inside surfaces of the elbow, then attach a segment, before attaching it to the existing segment.
Step 7: Step 1
Attach an elbow to a segment, turn it upwards, then attach another segment pointing left.
Step 8: Step 2
Attach a segment facing away from you.
Step 9: Step 3
Attach a segment facing up.
Step 10: Step 4
Attach a segment facing right.
Step 11: Step 5
Attach a segment facing away.
Step 12: Step 6
Attach a segment facing down. I provided two views so you can better verify you've got it correct so far.
Step 13: Step 7
Attach a segment facing right.
Step 14: Step 8
Attach a segment facing towards.
Step 15: Step 9
Attach a segment facing downwards.
Step 16: Step 10
We're getting towards the end. It's easier now to lay the sculpture down on a clean surface. Attach a segment facing left.
Step 17: Steps 11 & 12
Here's the last one. I've combined the two steps here because we need one last piece coming towards you and are attaching to the piece going upwards.
Step 18: Build Verification and Completion
You're done. Tie the sculpture up by a vertex and let it hang. Give it a spin, step back a bit, and if you're able to see a six-pointed star at some point your sculpture is a success.