Prism Portal




Introduction: Prism Portal

Hello! Welcome to Prism Portal! Prism Portal is a large scale art project, and here is how you could build one at home! the scaffold structure creates a portal and open area within, and the panels and lights create a variety of colorful light castings at night, with the sun during the day throwing bright rainbow patterns onto the area around the structure.

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Step 1: Supplies


150 12' 2x4's (this allows for some excess in case pieces are broken during construction).

3/8 inch plywood for producing templates.

Bucket of 2 3/4" general purpose screws

White paint and primer

~400 eyelet screws

72 18"x18" assorted 1/8" acrylic transparent colored panels.

10 3.5" long, 3/8" hex bolts, with accompanying nuts and washers.

solid braided string or tennis string.



-1/2" top-bearing flush trim bit.

Circular saw

Jigsaw or CNC cutter for template


-Driver bits and variety of drill bits.

Rubber mallet


Paint rollers and/or paint sprayer.

Step 2: Paint the Wood!

Prime it! Paint it! Prime and paint your wood! Since you have these huge pieces I recommend a paint sprayer to give yourself a coat of primer and paint on each 2x4.

Step 3: Make Your Cuts!

Using your circular saw, cut your pieces to size. Page A11 piece cut layout on the attached set of design and build pages shows the cuts that need to be made.

Step 4: Make Your Templates.

Using a CNC machine, cut templates as described in the attached template file. You will need 6 of the 52" templates, and 2 of the shorter 30" templates.

If you cannot get access to a CNC cutter you can cut these templates with a jigsaw using the guide on page A7 of the file packet. Be extremely precise, as the notches in the pieces made from these templates act as braces, so the more precise the better! The most important aspects of this are that the notches be 1'8" apart from each other, exact right angle cuts, and fit onto a 2x4.

Step 5: Cut Your Notches!

You need to cut notches! using your router and the templates you made, cut notches into all the 4'4" pieces and 2'6" pieces of 2x4.

The template goes on top of the 2x4's. You need to clamp them down together so nothing slides around, guaranteeing that you get identical cuts on each notched member.

You will need to make several passes with the top-bearing flush trim bit, as you will not be able to cut through the entire 2x4 with an average strength bit and router. After your first pass, remove the template and let the 2x4 be its own template for the next passes.

Step 6: Assemble Your Walls!

Pages A5 and A6 of the packet shows the different type of walls used to construct the scaffold. Using the templates as shown in A4, lay out the 2x4's in a grid as shown for each wall type, and screw into place.

You will wind up with a series of walls. these will be connected via the notched braces and the bolts in the next steps.

Step 7: Build Your Modules and the Scaffold!!

OK! So now you needs lots of friends. You need to construct the modules! Pages A3, A9, and A10 to see the setup and layout of the modules. You will be holding walls up and fitting them into the notched braces in order to secure them. Once the notches are in go ahead and screw them into place where they cross over the walls (see A8).

You will then have several modules of large scale scaffolding.

You connect these modules with the leftover type 3 wall and connect with further notched braces.

These large scale pieces can be bolted to each other with the bolts for added stability.

Step 8: Attach Your Panels!

Screw eyelet screws into each junction on the structure. Predrill holes for this.

You need to drill holes in the four corners of your panels. You then attach the transparent colored panels using the string, tying them into the eyelets. You want to change up direction and angle as you see fit, to wind up with a varying rainbow pattern of the panels which looks good for all angles.

Step 9: Enjoy Your Awesome Art Piece!

Go on, you earned it.

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    This looks amazing. I love it when artists share how their work is put together. It shows that you can do it too, which really encourages other to make art.