Light Weight Booth Made of PVC

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Light Weight Booth Made of PVC

Postby Cood123 » 26 Dec 2012, 07:17

For Christmas this year I was given fabric swatches and told to pick the one I like best for my booth. I was then told by my mother and father that the reason they didn't just build it was because they had unanswered questions about dimensions and some other things.

My father has plans to make the frame from PVC electrical conduit pipe, to make it light weight and easy to transport. We're also making the top section detachable with straps inside so that I can wear it like a backpack and essentially walk around with it. This is specifically so that I can do a basic show (most likely just a few two puppet skits) while walking the parade at the Texas Renaissance Festival.

Just wanted to ask for thoughts and suggestions on other ways to improve.
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Re: Light Weight Booth Made of PVC

Postby Chris » 26 Dec 2012, 14:21

As someone who has experimented I would suggest you do not use PVC tube as your construction method.
Also working with walking booth is a very specialised form of manipulation.
This seems an American disease to alter and experiment before trying the traditional methods. Unless you are very well experienced with Punch, and punch booth building I would strongly suggest that you intially used the tried and trusted methods. Then when you have mastered the basics, then improve and adapt to your hearts content. Don't try and roast a turkey until you can boil an egg.
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Re: Light Weight Booth Made of PVC

Postby Richard Coombs » 27 Dec 2012, 18:09

Yep Cood ...I echo what Chris says

Basically DONT .....but if you do-- be sure to post pictures on here and tell us how it all works out.


PVC frame is going to have no strength against the wind at all.

I think we can all know for sure on here that is the case ...but only if we work on the principle that you are a full sized adult , with a booth that is at least regular height and (usual) dimensions.

If however you are a very young , and very small kid , with a hands in front booth that is stunted in its design even more than proportional shrinkage to body size would suggest

....then maybe , just maybe... the strength of pvc conduit box section could hold together with short enough lengths plus enough cross bracing sections.
But does being ( perhaps ) possible, warrant even trying it ?, when you know for sure that wooden built and traditional methods will work 100% every time , and be just as cost effective ?

Sounds like an odd way of going about things . But if that is what you want to do ...go for it .

But please post pictures .

I am happy to be amazed and proved wrong ..but not hopeful.

Give Wood a go , you wont regret it.

Best of Luck

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Re: Light Weight Booth Made of PVC

Postby Richard Coombs » 27 Dec 2012, 18:18

As a follow up Cood ...i am cut and pasting some advice Chris Put in a current "Sales and Wants" thread...It explains , perhaps why you and your dad may have landed on PVC as an idea ( as it used for what might at first look like similar jobs in Toys and wigwams etc ) ...But Chris' advice is sound and worth taking into account:

I've tried various fit-ups with plastic conduit. It's very popular with church group puppeteers, particularly in the US. I don't find it very satisfactory either in sturdiness or assembly. You usually finish up with a large number of very similar looking tubes which are like a jigsaw to fit-up, even though colour-coded. Of course it does have the advantage of being light-weight and very easy to cut. But in any length it has a tendency to sag and although it there are various right-angle joints you can buy for it, it is less easy to fit cross bracing. Rectangular constructions all too easily become parallelograms.
Also friction-fit joints are not good for repeated set-up and pull down. And it isn't a good material for adding the hooks and myriad gadgets you find you need with a puppet show.
It might have a use for classroom shows, and for school or similar where it has only occasional use.
The only professional use I have made of it has been to use it on occasion as a sheath for dowel rod. Where I have wanted a long length of dowel (which can easily be accidently broken in transit) I have enclosed the dowel in a length of poly-tube of appropriate diameter and this greatly reduces the danger of snapping, yet remains rigid and can take screws and bolts.
In the toy shops there are many toy structures (wig-wams, wendy-houses, play shops etc.) availably using this material. They are fine initially, but don't stand up to repeated use. Similarly you can buy so called "extra wardrobe space" - clothes racks made of polytube and with a plastic cover. Again they are fine on display - but hang any weight of clothing on them for any length of time and they sag and distort.

Generally for all puppet booth making wood, with some metal fittings is very hard to beat. That is why it is the traditional material having proved its worth.
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Re: Light Weight Booth Made of PVC

Postby CvdC » 27 Dec 2012, 21:29

The following image shows what I would think was the simplest type of booth to construct and set up.
It is French (sorry Chris) but is based on the Neapolitan style.
One presumes it is designed for Italian piazzas rather than English fetes. You will notice that Phillipe uses his puppet box to help weigh it down. Weight is something you want, it equates to sturdiness in the physics of puppet boothery. Although it does occur to me you could anchor four sticks to the ground and have helium balloons at the other end. Except there is a looming shortage of helium thanks to the LHC.(ah the things you learn on this board!)
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Re: Light Weight Booth Made of PVC

Postby Trevek » 27 Dec 2012, 21:35

I remember busking once in Vilnius, just strung a line of rope between two points and draped my poncho over it... another time I got two assistants to hold the corners...
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Re: Light Weight Booth Made of PVC

Postby Chris » 27 Dec 2012, 23:12

So why are you asking about pvc tube construction? Obviously a clothes line, poncho and two assistants are far more practical, although probably still inclined to sag.
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Re: Light Weight Booth Made of PVC

Postby Trevek » 29 Dec 2012, 12:00

Because since British Midland lost my poncho, I don't busk anymore. As for being inclined to sag... please don't talk about my wife in such a way!!!!!! :wink:
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Re: Light Weight Booth Made of PVC

Postby Trevek » 29 Dec 2012, 13:19

The other thing, Chris, was that I'd noticed folk asking about booths and wondered if it was an option for them.

I'm pretty rubbish at constructing things, so I got a friend to make my booth for me (one to do the frame and another to do the covering) and it worked pretty well. However, I kept having thoughts about whether the plastic piping would work (as I had seen furniture made using it). But, not having ever made one myself, and having no experience, rather than suggest it and get shot down in flames, I thought I'd raise the question (as a genuine question) and seek the wisdom of those who had walked the path (or sailed the pipeline).

your answer was informative, and timely... as we saw on another thread. Again, I thank you.
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Re: Light Weight Booth Made of PVC

Postby Chris » 29 Dec 2012, 22:37

If you are inexperienced at making things,be they puppets, booths, routines or whatever, can I state the obvious for the umteenth time: The tried and tested, traditional if you like, methods are the best. They have become the norm because many people have experimented and tried other things, and found a generally accepted satisfactory standard.
If you are experienced and have tried the usual approaches then by all means experiment, adapt and improve for that is the way we improve and stay fresh. But so often seems to be enthusiastic virgins who are so sure they can improve on all that has gone before. It is a peculiar arrogance to try and improve an original before you have tried the original. It is like amateur cooks who boast they never follow a recipe - they adapt it as they see fit.
You realise I am talking generally - I am not accusing you of being a virgin. But as you have a booth, and friends who can construct them for you, why raise the issue of poly tube booths?
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