How to make columns for Greek plays

Updated April 17, 2017

There are three types of Greek columns: Doric, Ionic and Corinthian. Doric columns have a square capital, which is the part of the column at the top. Ionic columns have "eyes" that hang from the sides of their capital. The capital of a Corinthian column is quite ornate and is often decorated with acanthus leaves. A simple way to make columns for Greek plays is to use heavy cardboard rug cylinders. These can be found at rug or furniture warehouses and can be easily modified to create columns in any of the three traditional styles.

Remove any debris from the outside of the rug cylinder in order to create a smooth surface.

Determine the height of the column. Cylinders typically come in 1.8-metre (6-foot) lengths. A single cylinder can make several columns, depending on the needs of the play and whether or not some of the columns will be broken.

Cut the cylinder to the desired length with a box cutter or utility knife.

Cut strips of lightweight cardboard to match the height of the column if you want to create the illusion of the fluted indentations often seen on classic Greek columns. Glue the strips to the column, leaving about an inch between each strip.

Prime the outside of the cylinder with white primer paint. Allow it to dry for three to six hours. Apply a second coat if necessary and allow it to dry.

Create the base of the column. No matter what style of column you make, the base will be the same. Glue a 20-cm (8-inch) foam circle centred on top of a 25-cm (10-inch) foam circle. Then glue these two stacked circles centred on top of a 30-cm (12-inch) foam square. Allow them to dry. Glue the rug cylinder on top of the 20-cm (8-inch) foam circle, completing your column base.

Pour about a pound of sand down inside the rug cylinder to weight it.

Create a Doric column top. Center a 25-cm (10-inch) foam circle on a 30-cm (12-inch) foam square and glue together. After the glue has dried, paint with white primer spraypaint and allow to dry.

Create an Ionic column top by gluing two 30-by-10-cm (12-by-4-inch) foam rectangles to the bottom left and right edges of a 30-cm (12-inch) foam square. Allow to dry. Paint swirling eye designs on the ends of the rectangles.

Create a Corinthian column top by cutting out the shape of acanthus leaves or another leaf design from cardstock. Attach the leaves all around the edge of a 25-cm (10-inch) foam circle.

Choose which column top best fits your play -- Doric, Ionic or Corinthian. Balance the top piece on the column to envision the finished shape. Glue the topper that works for your scene in place on top of the rug cylinder. Duplicate the design for every column you need or use several styles of column.

Paint the column. Apply a coat or two of white spraypaint or spray-on stone.


To prepare the correct number of foam rounds, squares and rectangles, keep in mind that for every full-sized Doric column, you will need one rug cylinder, two 20-cm (8-inch) foam circles, two 25-cm (10-inch) foam circles and two 30-cm (12-inch) foam squares. For every full-sized Ionic column, you will need one rug cylinder, one 20-cm (8-inch) foam circle, one 25-cm (10-inch) foam circle, two 30-cm (12-inch) foam squares and two 30-by-10-cm (12-by-4-inch) foam rectangles. For every full-sized Corinthian column, you will need one rug cylinder, one 20-cm (8-inch) foam circle, two 25-cm (10-inch) foam circles, one 30-cm (12-inch) foam square and cardstock leaves.

Things You'll Need

  • Rug cylinders
  • White primer
  • Box cutter or utility knife
  • Cardboard
  • Cardstock
  • Sand
  • White spraypaint or spray-on stone
  • Scissors
  • Hot glue gun
  • Glue sticks
  • 2.5 cm (1 inch) thick, 20-cm (8-inch) foam circles
  • 2.5 cm (1 inch), 25-cm (10-inch) foam circles
  • 2.5 cm (1 inch), 30-cm (12-inch) foam squares
  • 2.5 cm (1 inch), 30-by-10-cm (12-by-4-inch) foam rectangles
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About the Author

Bjorck DiMarco has been the Senior Editor at an independent publishing house since 1994. She holds advanced degrees in teaching, English and creative writing, graduating summa cum laude from Tufts University and the University of Massachusetts. DiMarco has also worked in construction, fine woodworking, graphic design and theoretical mathematics.