How do I build my Manteum?

This can take some time, but if done properly with attention to detail, the results are rewarding.

We will assume that you have gathered together all the necessary parts as detailed on the materials page.

Start by screwing the timber to the ceiling to form a rectangle whose outside dimensions are 243cms x 150cms. See diagram 1. Note that one short side of the rectangle (marked "A" in the diagram) should be fixed against the wall.

Screw the curtain rails to the underside of the timber, on sides B, C and D. Ensure that the running slots are on the INSIDE of the enclosure, and the plain face of the rail is to the OUTSIDE. Put the plastic runners in place ready to accept the curtain hooks.

Cut the fabric to length - each length should be the height of the room from ceiling to floor plus 10 cms. At the ends of each length of fabric, turn up a hem of 5 cms, and sew up on a sewing machine, ensuring that the finished height of each curtain is enough to reach from ceiling to floor without dragging on the floor. Sew the curtain tape into position so that when the curtain is hung, the bottom does not drag on the floor. This sounds difficult, but after the first one you will find the rest easy! Without wishing to sound patronising or sexist, the lady of the house will probably know exactly what to do.

Fit the curtain hooks into the tape and hang each curtain in place. You will see that the curtains appear to be inside out, i.e. the curtain tape and hooks are on the outside. This is intentional - it stops the curtain fittings showing up in the dim light inside the manteum, therefore avoiding a visual distraction.

Inside the manteum you now have a bare wall - cover it with a piece of the fabric (just nail the top of the fabric to side A of the timber frame) so that none of the wall is visible, it is all black.

Fix the mirror in place on the wall - for this the best way is a brass eye screw in each of the top two corners of the mirror's frame, and a piece of strong string tied between the two. A hook can then be fixed to the wall, and the mirror hung there by the string. A couple of small brackets can support the bottom of the mirror. Two dimensions here are important - firstly the bottom of the mirror should be 82 cms from the floor when hung in place. Secondly the top of the mirror should lean away from the wall by about 8 cms. (This latter measurement will be adjusted later on, so it doesn't have to be too accurate at this stage).

You have a piece of fabric left over - nail it to the front and rear timbers on the ceiling so as to cover the ceiling inside the manteum. Allow it to drape down a little.

Place the chair with no legs (!) on the ground facing the wall in front of the mirror, with its front edge 82 cms from the wall.

Put the cardboard box on its side, long-side down, on the floor immediately behind the chair, with the bottom of the box next to the chair and the open end facing the rear of the manteum. Use the bottom flap to raise the edge of the box up a little, and place the light inside the box. Connect the power to the light. Adjust the other three flaps of the box so as to direct the light on to the rear curtain of the manteum, but shielding light from the sides.

That's all there is to it. Once the manteum is set up as above, it can be left like that for future use.


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