You've seen the meme-- there's even a Netflix series based on it. Someone attempts to create a thing they found on Pinterest and posts the disastrous results side-by-side with the caption "Nailed It!" It happened when I attempted to make those cookie cups that were going around five years ago by putting dough on the bottom of a muffin tin.
I was actually successful this time! After finding multiple pins suggesting I use foam noodles to make columns, I knew I had to give it a try. But we couldn't just do the project straight off of Pinterest. For one, most of the tutorials had us making twisted columns, and we needed straight fluting for our Greek set. Secondly, we have an 18ft proscenium to dwarf anything we put on stage. We needed to make them MUCH bigger.
We began with Sakrete tubes which, by the way, are not actually standard in size.
We had four tubes leftover from a previous column project (where the fluting was painted on and flat and terrible) and so we purchased eight more. They come in 4' sections, so with three tubes per column we had enough to make four 12' columns. We screwed 12" (roughly, because as said before, they were not standard) sections of 2x4" wood into the ends of the cardboard and joined them together. Note: these tubes are CARDBOARD and therefore not super durable. You HAVE to support the columns at the joints when taking them down and moving them or the screws will rip out of the cardboard and they will not come back together.
After creating our monster 12' tubes, we got to work noodling. My father-in-law ripped over a hundred noodles on his table saw. The most cost-effective way to buy noodles is in bulk boxes of 54 from Dollar Tree online. We shipped to store. Three boxes. The sales clerk was baffled.
After each noodle was bisected lengthwise, we set to work noodling. The tutorials online use contact cement, but if your kids don't understand how to use contact cement, they will quickly become frustrated. For part of a column I had children screwing down noodles (the insides of the tubes looked like a possum's mouth) because the glue wouldn't hold. This is because contact cement is meant to be applied differently than some glue. We gave up on brushes and ended up using the trimmed pieces of pool noodles as spreaders because children were quickly using up my bulk pile of foam brushes.
It took quick a few hours of kids working after school and in classes to do it. Here's what you need to know:Make sure you measure and mark where your end-cap noodles will fit before laying noodles. For me, I had to make a rule that you cannot pass off your job to someone else unless I have trained them personally. Too many kids were giving their jobs to someone else and through the game of telephone, important instructions were being lost.
We wrapped the full (non-bisected) noodles around and screwed them down at the back away from the audience. You can see in the first completed column below where the screw-method was attempted. We spray-painted our end noodles metallic gold. In this first column we painted the column fluting after the ends were attached. Later on we painted the end noodles after the fluting noodles were painted white and attached them as the final step.
The very ends are wood pre-cut tabletops from Home Depot. These were screwed straight in to the wood pieces on the ends and acted as a flat top and bottom. We stood each column up on its end and they held themselves-- as long as a kid didn't touch them, they were stable enough on our sprung wood stage to stand without being tied to a batten.
Overall my experience with this Pinterest project (while frustrating at times due mostly to human miscommunication) was very positive. We managed to somehow maneuver them into our stairwell to go into our storage space, and I plan to use them again in the future.
Amy is a drama teacher with an M.Ed. in Secondary Education, ELA, teaching in the suburbs of Birmingham, AL.