Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Jewelry Shows, Displays and the Dis-content Artist

Love My Art Jewelry just had a blog post on Jewelry Displays.  I think every year at this time (with my first show just weeks away) I begin to can I make it better this year?

It is my torment.  I don't think I will ever be happy with it! 

Here are some things that I have changed over the years and why.

Originally, I had my tables set up in a U shape (just your typical wide, heavy, low, folding tables) so that people could walk into my tent. 

pros- it allowed people to feel like they were entering a shop
cons- items were close to the walls of the tent, and windy days were horrible and things kept falling

Anyway- I wanted something closer to the front, to grab peoples attention, not to mention, I have increased my inventory over the years, and needed more table space to display it.  (I am a bit obsessive about having something for everyone in a couple of color choices)

A friend had these tables and I just drooled over them.  I am a tall woman, so I like things a bit more at eye level.  These are adjutable height, not NEAR as heavy, they fold, AND they are narrower, so it gives me more room for the customer.
To make up for the narrower table, I got more shelves, to create more space for displays.  You can find the tables here.  I get my folding shelves at Ollies for about $40....otherwise they are $79 online!!!

Over time my displays went from hanging my necklaces in a row, where you can't really see each necklace, to each necklace being displayed flat.  I found these displays were perfect for that.  Not only can you display a few necklaces on each one, but, to pack up, I just made little covers for them, and put a rubberband around it and stack them all together and drop them in a tote.
  I do not have to take each necklace on and off.  This saved me an hour of set up and tear down time (not to mention NO untangling)!!!  Getting out of the house at 6am with three small kids and babysitters to fill in, is no easy task, so the later I can get there to set up, the better!!!

This is my most current diplay....but its changing a little bit again.  Just a little.

I have also found that good displays don't have to cost much.  Here are a couple that I have made over time using drift wood I found on the beach or branches from a tree in my back yard!
The picture on the left shows the drift wood bracelet display I made and the one below to the right is made with tree branches.

 I also got this display case at a white elephant sale for $8.  It was locked and there was no key.  So my husband drilled the lock, and I painted it!  I made a shelf for the back to keep the glass angled.  Voila!

Last year I spent a lot of time making my display so it would hold up in high winds.  I did a couple of windy shows that were really scary.  Here are my tips for that. 

1.  Do not have anything near the walls of the tent
2.  Make some weights to hang from each corner using cement and PVC pipe (much cheaper then buying weights, and they are heavier then what you can purchase online).
3.  Stake your tent down TOO, and if you are on the street, screw wood to the bottom of each post with large washer and then set bags of sand on each corner (I put mine in brown pillow cases with ribbon so they look nice)
4.  Have lots of hand clamps in case you need to clamp your table cloths to the legs of the tables.  When they blow, people are likely to step on them and bring something off your table.
5.  I added velcro to the bottom of my flat displays, so they stick, AND put a half of brick on the back / bottom of each so they don't become kites.
6.  Always have extra rope and duct tape and bungies, you never know what you may need to rig to survive the day!!!

This above picture show the tent with the wood and sandbags as weights.
My biggest tip for saving time is to do a complete set up at home before the show.  Lay out all the tables, cloths and all, shelves, jewelry............. set it up true to size (10x10 for most outdoor shows).  Then you can make sure it works, you can check your prices, polish things that need to be polished, ect.  Then pack it up and all you have to do that morning is set it up.  No arranging and re-arranging, or finding you have no room for a new display.  No extra stuff to take along that you didn't need. 

I totally take over the family room the week of a show.  I also get to see if I need more of anything- like earrings or bracelets.
I have really moved away from an artsy display to a functional one.  I really don't think it has effected my sales at all.  I sell more now that I did with the more natural and creative displays, and I am happier at the show because I can open on time and be relaxed, instead of a panic on how to make it work that morning.  It is about displaying your work in a way that is easy and eye pleasing...because, lets face it, your work is the star of the show, not the display.

Here's some through the years shots of my booth (they are not in any kind of order).  I couldn't find the really old ones.  I bet I got rid of them!

A few more key/general tips:
1.  Make your display fit your style~ both as a designer, and functionally
2.  ALWAYS use floor length table cloths- it just looks best, and most good shows require it
3.  Leave a place where you can deal with the customer, so when they buy something, there is a place for them to write a check or set their purse down
4.  Have a spot with a GOOD SIZE mirror where they can try on jewelry
5.  Have items clearly marked with signs explaining different materials, ex: Metal Clay Jewelry

6.  And have fun.  Talk to people.  Talk about what you do, where you find your stones, how your designs came to be.....the BEST selling point of your display is YOU.  People love to meet the artist, and find out what makes you tick.  Most often they buy your jewelry, not only because they like it, but because they like knowing how or why it was made. 

So~ now I am off to obsess a little more about my upcoming shows!!!!

Do you have a show secret you'd like to share???


  1. Great post - thanks! I always do a pre-set-up before big shows too. Then I take a quick photograph which I print out and take with me to the show so I have a reference.
    My problem this year is to make it all wind proof for the very windy Friday market. This is my 4th year, and I am still having trouble with stuff flying off the tables. I have lots of c-clamps and weights, but being right on the water we get a lot of wind.

  2. I did a show at the shore last year, and even with all the weight, my tent was moving a bit!!! Its always windy by water!!!!! Those flat displays work good, because I can weight them in the back. I try not to have things on cards and stuff because they do fly!!!

  3. This is WONDERFUL! Thanks for sharing it! I am definitely going to add this link to my helpful links and resources page. :D

  4. Great post with lots of details! Thanks for sharing. You work so hard on your display and it's beautiful, with the exception of the table wrap. Not that I have any right to pick on that, just that it stands out. Kinda like a best friend that will always tell you if you have something out of place, I LOVE your blog!

  5. York Ave. Studio- I know about the table cloths...they hang really nice, if there is no wind (which there always seems to be), but when I have to clamp them they bunch. I finally broke down and ordered fitted ones for this year...I have just always hated the limited colors. But I think I will use my green and make them runners for on top or something. Thanks for your honesty. I am always looking to make it better, so feedback is great!!!!

  6. Loved reading about the evolution of your booth and displays, Staci! Your found wood bracelet displays are fabulous.

  7. I can tell you put a lot of thought and effort into your booth. I like how the height of the display varies it makes it interesting. Love the color of the table covers, but the fitted covers will save you even more time since you wont have to fuss with them as much.

  8. Great post Staci- I've sent it to my sister in Arizona. She's paints so her displays would be a little different, but her 1st show is coming up and I know she's nervous.

    BTW- it seems like PA has an abundance of creative people. Is it something in the water?

  9. All if your set ups looks amazing. I am a newbie and having my first ever show in two weeks. Thee gave me a lot if ideas. I really like the display made out if drift wood. Also where did you get your green tablecloth. It looks really nice