Thursday, December 6, 2012

Another Craft Show How To (or this is how I did it)

I was going to make this one post but then it just kept getting longer and longer so I thought why not split it up.

Over the last few years as I've played around with the idea of doing art/ craft shows I've visited lots of blogs and flickr pages (and more recently pintrest pins) to figure out how to do a successful show. This is my addition to that list. Hopefully someone finds it helpful.

Table Set up the Peanut's School Art Show and Sale

So the invitation to be a part of the Peanut's school art sale was a little last minute; and my procrastination/ planning for the one day not to far away that I would take that step and sell at a handmade show/sale paid off in that I was able to put together a beautiful table with little stress. Not to mention that there was no stress on the making sure that I had enough inventory front. The husband and I have a nice stack of finished ornaments that are ready to go.

So this is the first of three posts about what did I do to get ready for a show. This post focuses on display and set up. In all my research and reading having an inviting and interesting display was number one on the must do list for a successful show.  In our case we weren't just competing with the other vendors at the show but also the student's art. All of the people who attended the show were family or friends of the students in the school and they were all there to buy their kids art. Any other purchases made were bonus buys. Having a beautiful table that beckoned buyers made sure that we had a steady flow of people talking to us, picking up the ornaments, taking business cards and coming back for a second look. In some cases we saw people scanning the room from the refreshment table; see our display and walk over to get a better look.

As is my MO I used a lot of what I have/had on hand to create the display (as well as our packaging and signage which I'll talk more about in future posts). The rest we broke down and purchased.


I had a decorative brass tree that I picked up a few years ago after the holidays. We've used this tree on our kitchen table during December with battery powered LED lights and some of the hand made ornaments we like to display.

After the show we put it on the table and filled with with candy canes and some of the hand made ornaments the Peanut has made this year.

I've also used this tree in merchandising photographs over the last few years and have it featured on my business cards. When I bought the tree it was for future use in shows like this one. Getting to use it for holiday decoration and for product photo shoots has been a bonus but putting it to use for the reason I initially purchased it for was pretty darn exciting. I wrapped some lights around the tree and hung ornaments from the branches.

A few years ago the husband and I got a little organizational and picked up some drawer units to stash my art supplies, his electronics components and also the girls paints, crayons and play dough. The drawers (pictured above filled with everything we took to the show for sale and display) are also metal mesh so that we can see what is inside without having to open all the drawers. I emptied out three of the drawers from these units to use as display racks on the table with the tree.

Because the drawers are metal mesh I was able to set up a light source inside and to create a semi permanent hook system for hanging our ornaments. Using some metal ornament hooks I'd picked up at the dollar store a few years ago; I threaded them through the mesh on the bottom of the drawers pinched the top portion of the hook closed and used the bottom to hang our ornaments. The drawers also would have doubled as a handy place to carry everything from our home to the show venue and back again if we weren't in the middle of a torrential downpour; instead we put most of the display stuff into a plastic bin with a lid. Once the sale was over, the hooks were removed.  Once I've got some free time, the drawers will be replaced and all our displaced art supplies put away.

Our fish, Dragon swimming in front of the
As Is vases we picked up at Ikea for the show
For promoting our shop name I used watercolour paper that was in in my paper stash, watercolour paints and some ink jet sticker paper with our shop name and address printed on it in the font we use for our Etsy shop.  These were placed in a shadowbox frame that I've had in storage for years. I used some blackboard vinyl on a photograph frame clip board that we got for a wedding gift to write down our prices with chalk pastel. One of the other vendors at the show commented on what a good idea the large signage was, which was a pretty awesome compliment.

Inside the drawers and behind the ornaments we used some glass jars; baby food jars, kitchen storage containers and one of the pretty glass vases that was a gift filled with pretty flowers after the Bean came home. We filled them with some battery powered floral lights that we used to decorate for our wedding over ten years ago and that we've had on hand and used yearly since in our decor. the lights inside reflected off the glass and made a pretty glow from behind the mesh similar to tree lights.

In addition to all the things we already had and were able to transform and use for our display we also picked up a few things inexpensively at dollar stores and Ikea to fill out the display.

From the dollar store we picked up some adjustable book lights to help showcase the iridescent quality of our ornaments and also to light up the signage on the display so that people could see what our prices are and who we are.

At Ikea we got more battery powered lights both plain LED as well as a snowflake string and a fiber optic disco ball to place behind the mesh display inside the jars we had on hand. These lights are now decorating our house for the holidays.

To drape over the back of our boxes we picked out an inexpensive set of sheer curtains in black. We'll likely keep these solely for use in craft sales unless we decide that the privacy of being able to keep our bedroom windows open in the summer is too tempting to forgo and now that I've put that thought into my head you know that that is what's going to happen.

Lastly in the display department we hit the "As Is" section in Ikea. I love love this section and never go to Ikea without visiting that area. I found two pretty glass vases with frosted stars decorating the outside which were also filled with lights and placed in the boxes. These will be put to use all year round and right now I've got blue and silver glass balls filling them with a couple of the light strings. they're lighting up our kitchen window and entertaining the family pet.

Absolutely everything we had on hand and picked up to use in display will also be used again for different purposes. Even the book lights are being used at bedtime and I can see them inside a carved pumpkin next year.

Practice set up for the show.
Before the show I practiced setting up the display in our kitchen a few times. Once when I got the initial idea to use the drawers. This let me see how the display might look and also let me figure out what items I had on hand and what I'd need to pick up to finish off the display. I did another practice once we'd visited the dollar store and Ikea so I could see how everything looked together as well as making note of what was missing, what needed to be added or subtracted from the set up and what I might need to help make the display as seamless looking as possible. I did a final practice two days before the show to figure out the most efficient way to set up and also to make sure that the loose items (mostly the sheer fabric but also the book lights) on the table would stay where I wanted them. This way I was able to include twist ties, paperclips, scotch tape and alligator clips to my supply list so that I could keep the lighting wires organized, attach the light for the price sign and not least make sure the fabric was secure.

Finished table
When I got to the venue to set up my table I adjusted my layout to suit the location of my table. Because the tables we were given to use included table coverings both white and the black place mats I decided to use both the sheer curtains on each display box instead of draping one over the table and spreading the second over both boxes.  I reversed the placement of the boxes and tree, as well as the pricing sign and our business sign. Before I set up I also adjusted the table placement to allow more room for people to look at our display without crowding the table behind us or in front of us. Next year we may  move the tables even more.

Did I leave anything out? Is there anything you would do differently? Anything you 'd like to know more about? Tell me int he comments. Next time I'll post about our packaging; click here to read it!.

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