Monday, August 30, 2010

Swamp shack tutorial

A swamp shack is a great backdrop and focal point for multiple event areas including bar and game areas.  My shack had to be shipped to the event site, so was created with transportation ease in mind. Here's the tutorial on how I made it.

The framework base was made from 1/2" PVC pipe I spray painted black.  Painting was an extra step that is not 100% needed, but for this application I wanted to make sure that if they were visible through the cover materials they wouldn't stand out.  PVC pipe is available from any home center, however I had to order several of the specialty fittings with 4 and 5 openings online.  To increase stability, after this photo was taken I cut the verticals supporting the "building" in two and added horizontal cross pieces to the middle.  I left the two verticals "as is" for the open porch area.


The roof was vacuformed plastic shingles from Sketch-Lite, a theater prop supplier.  It comes white so I first painted it a dark brown and then went in with lighter brown, grey, yellow and green to highlight areas where natural weathering and growth would occur.  The faux painting and aging should not be subtle, it needs to be heavy in order to show up under the darker specialty lighting of the event.  The plastic can then be trimmed and cut to size with heavy scissors or a utility knife.


I attached the roof with wide hook and loop tape. This allowed for easy assembly onsite.  The shack sign was carved from foam and also mounted with tape (look for my tutorial on foam signs).  The sponsor, guest of honor's name, or other fun store name would all be appropriate to highlight here.


The same paint technique was also used on the shack door which was carved from pink foam and white styrofoam. 


The door was created in two pieces for easier transport.  Skewers were used to attach the top and bottom on site.

The porch posts were actually giant size pool noodles, painted and aged in the same color as the roof and door.  They just slipped over the pvc (they come with a hole that runs up the middle).


The porch flooring was a simple roll up garden walkway that I stained and aged.  I designed the pvc structure to fit the width of these planks.

The window was a carved piece of foam painted to match and then backed with metallic paper for the "glass".


Once on-site I assembled the pvc framework and then wrapped it in corrugated paper with a weathered wood print from Stumps prom & party supplier.  I then attached the roof with hook and loop tape and attached the window and door with tape and fishing wire.

Palms, ferns and amaranthus sprouted from around the shack providing great texture and color to set off the structure.  Finishing touches included a flickering lantern, wood buckets, plastic spiders, frogs, and geckos.  Fishing poles with carved fish dangling from them leaned against the porch posts. 

In front I added black wood rocking chairs where guests could sit,  chalk boards which listed the prizes and how to play the treasure chest game, and finally shipping crates (made from foam) and real whiskey barrels for drinks and food.


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