More info & resources
Finding shows
Behavior at shows
General info
....misc. info to sort later
Hang tags, info, etc.
Set up, Break down, & Packing, checklist
Venues & What to take
What to wear
Home Shows


(For demonstrations, see Demos)
(for insecurity before a show, and what to do about it, see Creativity & Inspiration/Shows)

Even more info &resources

Deirdre's article in Polyzine in which she interviews polymer artists at a craft show, giving some of their tips on what works for them, etc., shows some of their work, and includes a list of helpful links for those interested in doing craft fairs

(many of the tips in the following links are the same as what I have below, but some may be different)
Nan’s collected suggestions:

Polymerclayinterest collected suggestions:

Preston Reuther's many online articles about home businesses, doing shows, etc.

suggestions from Lynnette: of various kinds ... also section for beginners's show forums ....and info
o a google search ... I know it may seem silly, but you will be surprised by the websites that are directories of listing for shows. I also found that most of them want you to pay a membership fee for most of the info, but if you get desperate you can do that.
...also, possibly the best way to go about finding shows are to contact local churches, organizations and town chamber of commerce and ask them or even check their website if they have one.
...Carol Duvall did a series on selling your crafts, covering lots of topics ...also some of her regulars spoke about their humble beginnings:,,HGTV_3822_1604,00.html,,HGTV_3822_1610,00.html,,HGTV_3822_1615,00.html

I highly highly highly recommend listening to the audiotape "Be a Dynamic Craft Seller" by Bruce Baker.
.....I'm not associated with him in any way, but I listen to the tape before each of my shows.
......Even if you don't do shows, there is a lot of good info about how you present yourself and how you present your work.
If he is ever giving a workshop in your area, GO! I was so charged after the one of his I attended, I could have sold .... popsicles to Eskimos…
(9-03) ...Last I talked to him, he was recording an updated version on CD, but I don't know when that's supposed to be out. Irene

books on selling crafts, from Carol Duvall show,1789,HGTV_3310_1374777,00.html

Yes, Bruce also talks a bit about booth design, but you might also want to subscribe to Crafts Report magazine ( and read the monthly advice about booth design. Irene
If anyone hasn't seen it, check out The Crafts Report....I've been a crafter all my life, but for years, really wanted to have my own small business. I figured that if I couldn't afford to buy everything I liked, I could surround myself in fine craft by having a store. So I took classes in running a small business and read The Crafts Report. I learned a LOT, especially the business side of being a professional crafter. They have a website:
... Among other things on the website is a directory to crafts shows by state or city. Randi

For even more info on many aspects of shows, see also these threads from past posts in the polymer newsgroup
(instructions for how to do this are in Business/More Resources):

--Spring SHOWS bad, Fall good, etc.
--First craft fair of the season
--Re: Suggestions Please (craft show)
--crafts show --idea for item
--selling at shows
--Re: Show/Display Tips
--Shade cloth ideas
--Cheap fixtures for earrings
--Licenses and shows
--Doing a demo at a craft show

Finding Shows

art fair listings- need to watch the classified ads in your local newspaper, go to everything you can and get on every mailing list you find. Ask questions and get business cards. (the fun part) Look in the Yellow Pages under Associations, Clubs, Guilds and Art Galleries. Kim2

I have found a great resource for upcoming shows. It's called Sunshine Artist and I found it at Books A Million. It lists shows by state, by month and also rates the top 200. It also has great articles and reviews of shows by artists who have attended them. Very valuable info. I think it's a bi-monthly publication. Pat

Our SDak travel rest stops have brochures that list (statewide) events. Your state probably does too? Cella in SDak

There is a publication called Craft Show Listings ( or something like that). Don't have the particulars, they wanted an arm and a leg for a subscription. Go to one of the craft web sites like HIA although the Crafts Report should know about it. Maybe it is no longer around. I saw it 4-5 years ago. Trina

Behavior, etc.

Sometimes I ask if they're familiar with polymer clay. Sometimes I talk about the colors and/or imagery I use. Sometimes I ask if they're shopping for themselves or for a gift. Let them know you are available to answer any questions they might have. Learn to interpret body language and you'll figure out when they don't want you to talk to them and when they do. Don't hang over them or watch them like a hawk - that makes people nervous! Just be alert and aware. Do busy work, like arranging your display or straightening up your business cards - that way you're accessible but not in their face. There's a great cassette tape called "Be a Dynamic Craft Seller" by Bruce Baker. Check it out here: I listen to it before every show and it's made me more confident and has helped my sales tremendously. Irene SD

...(one artist's booth) ...whose work I saw last year, and came prepared to spend money for something. Well, she was on her cell phone the entire time we were in her booth. Ok, fine, but none of her things were priced. $@#$. Then when we went back by, she was reading a novel. I think she needs a dose of Bruce Baker('s book); needless to say I didn't buy the piece. Daphne

I was just wondering what others thought about eye contact with shoppers. You know, how important is it. Because in the past, I have always tried to make eye contact and it seemed to me that it didn't seem to matter one way or the other. But I think I will still do as you said and just stand (rather than sitting).

One thing about eye contact that I don't think I've heard mentioned is that some shoppers feel uncomfortable with too much of it, even though some love it. I, for one, don't like more than a quick glance and smile; those are good and tell me the booth owner is pleasant, approachable, and aware of what's going on in their booth. After that though, what I appreciate most is for her/him to break eye contact and do something else (unless I show I want more contact). That lets me know that they also respect my privacy, and won't *expect* anything from me unless I want to give it (like conversation or a sale). I will relax and browse much longer in a situation like that where I don't feel any pressure. If the booth owner is dealing with someone else, or working on paperwork or a craft, I think that creates the least pressure. And I don't mind if they're sitting, but they do need to look *accessible* so I don't feel I'm presuming on their time if I want to ask a quick question, etc. . . . they might glance up or around occasionally just to indicate that. I would think it would be hard to stand for a whole show . . . Those things are only my 2 cents though...Diane B.

In fact, (as a seller) I can get so caught up in talking with an interested & enthusiastic person... that I sometimes miss a sale because a buyer won't want to break in with a question! Yikes. I try to make eye contact with everyone in the booth.... especially when I'm conversing with someone else... so they will know it's okay to approach with a comment or question. . . .and I make VERY sure that every single thing I have out is marked with a price. Joanie :o}
...I guess the most important thing is to go and have fun . . . people are drawn to other people who are enjoying themselves and talking to everyone. I guess I’m done. Good luck and let us know how you did. boxerbratt

...if your table is raised, you should probably stand unless you have one of the high directors chairs. Or a stool....
...I know someone who used one of those folding step ladders and just perched on the edge. Dual purpose! Trina

...having many chairs in your booth are a definite no-no unless you are doing tarot card reading or something of that sort. People will definitely loaf if you allow them to, trust me.. Dave

I also try to have a basket of small, inexpensive things for kids to buy. I keep that 'front and center' to distract kids while mom is shopping. it I put small pendants on a ribbon, really just cane slices with a loop. Very small earrings or big gaudy ones on clip findings, rather than pierced. I also include things that didn't turn out just right like barettes, etc. Sally


If your booth is filled with lots of small goodies, sometimes people will pass you buy just because they don't take the time to look. So what I am going to try to do this year Is make a LARGE Gingerbread House out of clay as kind of an "eye catcher" to draw people to take a look at it and then they will be close enough to see the other wonderful "little things" that I make. When I say Large and small....small to me is 5 inches and under as most everything I make is. The large part is about 12" x 8"....not HUGE in the true sense of the word, but big enough that it gets noticed.
.....I think you really need just 1 thing that is really eyecatching to get the people to stop at your stall then sell sell sell! Colorful things attract the kids, and when the kids come running the parents follow. My best eyecatcher is my beaded spiders, I sold a stack of em last markets, everybody stopped to look at them. . moobaa

People find clay very intriguing, especially if they see blocks of raw clay as the "before" sitting next to the completed (items) jewelry as the "after". jilla
....Last year I had a bowl with some conditioned and unconditioned clay in it on my table. People LOVE to touch it.
........I also had a poster explaining polymer clay (conditioning, baking ) for people to read.

sometimes do things in your booth for no reason other than to attract attention. Phillip
... my DH made up a doll house to look like a haunted house as an eye catcher for our Sept show. Then house is surrounded with my halloween creations.....t drew alot of attention. People wanted to know if the doll house was for sale..

I saw some booths where no one was even stopping and the people there looked so sad and embarrassed.
Here's are some very important things to remember:
--- Practice smiling all the time at shows. Your cheeks will hurt at the end of the day, but it makes a huge difference.
--- Act like you are having fun.
--- Try to actually find the enjoyable parts like "wow, what an education into the taste of people and their shopping habits I'm getting!"
--- Or talk to the people at the next booth--in a general sort of way (don't close out the customers). Look at their stuff (be a shill, the guy who says "wow, woodja look at that--this is COOL!" and helps focus interest on the product.
---Show them YOUR stuff.
---Look at your stuff yourself---straighten the stacks, untangle something---but do NOT ever stand like a rejected wallfower at the dance or like a tiger waiting for the meal at the zoo.
---Interact, smile, and look INTERESTED!! Do NOT ever take a book and read, and don't let your face look mad even if you are.
---Even when talking to someone, use your eyes independantly and watch your merchandise at all times---this reduces the walking away of your items. Sarajane H

You know, that is so true. I can think of some of the booths that I didn't go near because the people there looked so "hungry" and I didn't want to get a "sales pitch". You tend to go nearer to the ones where people are happy, doing samples so everyone can watch how they do it, or talking to someone about their products. Pam
I also hesitate to go into some of these because I don't want to have to disappoint them by not buying something...DB

It's very hard not to look sad after a couple of hours of not selling anything - so I ALWAYS make stuff on my stand when I'm doing a show. That way, I'm happily occupied even if no-one comes near me, so I look happy and there's something interesting for people to see.. . . it can all be baked, even if it has to be finished at home. Crafty Owl

When people notice and/or react to your display more than they do your work, it's time to tone it down. Although all the props enhance the setting your work is in, they detract from work itself. Maybe try a few small "staged" areas where you have a couple of fairies with props, and then below or above or beside, a display of fairies only, no props, perhaps even in gift boxes to get the message across that these are for sale. Irene SD

I took some more things to the fair this a.m. . . . last week I found a bunch of my things buried in the bottom of a basket. That is the trouble with these group boutiques. When you are working you make sure your things are displayed prominently, and then the next person comes and does the same thing. Although I never intentionally bury anyones stock. Trina

My experience is this - some shows you will go gang busters and some not.
My best piece of advice is this one. Have a lot of pieces in your booth. You will usually not sell more than half of what you display. I have had a show that I haven't made booth rent at more than once. I agree with the post about the pay to get in shows. I also know a couple of local high schools who's shows are very well known throughout the area and therefore very successful. Shows will do better on Saturday than on Sunday and I would attribute this to a segment I refer to as the tag alongs (husbands in particular and to some degree kids). They (husbands) tend to discourage purchases so I try to engage them while wife is busy! Afternoon is generally better than morning any day. I have made anywhere from $100 to $2500 a show at the local high school - and please note one year I made $1200 at a local high school and the next year made $600 at the same show). Alecia

My husband helped me during a show recently, first time for him. Even though he is not the selling type, he ended up selling wonderfully because he turned into a fantastic polymer clay educator. He pointed out the various surface embellishments I use, and show people the pasta machine, describing it as one of my most important tools. Mona

(DB: sort the following into other categories)

I sometimes have people at shows take pictures, or draw sketches of my designs, and whisper to each other "we can sooooo do this at home".
.....but the thing I find most uncomfortable are those who ask me in depth how it's done (I don't just mean the curious people, polymer clay is new to many and they want to know more. I'm talking about those who want a detailed, step by step explanation, that they write down to go try at home.
.....if this was during a guild meeting or something like that, I would share willingly and gladly, but when it's obvious that I am trying to sell my creations and they are taking me away from paying customers, it is disturbing. DiAnne
...I've seen a framed sign on a table at a craft show that says:
"Yes, I know you can make it yourself, but you probably won't or at least won't remember my details, so why not buy it now and escape the pressure???"
......this sign generated a lot of comments, and probably some sales as well. ...(this was not my idea...just saw it and knew it described pretty well the situation I run into, and obviously a lot of others too). tonilea
...After my first show I came up with a resolution... I now welcome these questions with a smile, then hand them a business card, and say "call me to schedule a private class"..... this makes me feel like the professional I am trying to be : ) DiAnne
...I often ask "are you on-line?".... and hand out an list of online resources
......or I invite them to a guild meeting
......our guild's stint at the fair is a good educational opportunity...people can see our step by step demos, and realize "it ain't all that easy"....then we give them guild and class schedules. Trina

I sometimes write down comments and one liners from people who come by, then read them at the end of the day. It's funny! year a boy (about 13) came by and explained to me that his friend's mom owned Fimo (the company). I just smiled and said, really? ... a woman at the same show was talking to me about how she had tried polymer clay when it first came out, about five years ago..... Ok.... Cindy P.

I travel with 8 foot high hard walls, a lighting system and a gazillion other things...but you don't need all that when you start out.
First of all find out the EXACT dimensions of the space that will be available to you. Take some string or chalk or whatever and mark that area on your floor or lawn. Then pretend you are a potential buyer walking past the front of that space and think of some props that would not only make it interesting...but stuff that could double as display pieces.
Try to lay out your booth so that people actually have to step INTO it rather than stand in front of a table at the perimeter.
Plan to display your pieces on surfaces that are no lower than 36" (preferably 40") and no higher than 6 feet off the floor.
That have to nevertheless provide vertical interest as well because otherwise the space will look BORING even before the show goer knows what it is you sell. Two or three tall bifold shutters hinged together will give you many many little slots to hang earring or pin cards. (And if they don't fit in your car just tie them to the roof.) A collection of old wood window screens...especially if they are of varying heights and painted different colours. Just develop a way of hinging them together in different configurations so that they are useable in different booth sizes.
Don't plan on just laying your stuff out on a table...even if one is provided. Tables are too low. But a table can be used if you buy some of that PVC pipe ...cut four pieces about 12 inches long and stick them under all four legs of the table your customers won't have to bend over to see what you have for sale. You will have to provide a floor length cover for the raised table because the standard table skirts will be too short.
Collect small boxes, pieces of wood, (or whatever) of varying heights and make a pleasing arrangement of them on top of the table to add interest to your display. The boxes can be draped with similar material or something that coordinates with your table cover. And play around with setting your pieces out on this multi-level system.
Ask the show organizer if you can have a booth that is accessible to electricity. (see below for lighting)
Tree branches that are securely imbedded in a pail (of cement??) also make interesting display props. Even if you don't hang anything on them they can provide visual interest.
By the way...plan on attending at least two BIG art and craft shows this year...not as a seller but as a very interested observer. Don't take kids, husbands OR friends with you. It will be a business trip. Check out the lighting, the wall systems (99% will be home made), the flooring and how various products are displayed. Most of the sellers at the big shows do it full time so learn from them. When you see something that you think you can adapt for your own use find somehwere to it down and discreetly make notes to yourself about it. Draw little pictures so that you can remember what you saw. nokomis1
....Before you set up at the show, display your work on the screen doors...I've found that it sometime helps to hang a curtain behind the screen or my pins, etc don't seem to stand out. nokomis1

Make it look like you have sold something when you first start....and don't start with the first sales ticket. If you start with a new book, rip out the first seven or so tickets.
...I always use a receipt book, not because everybody wants a receipt, but it gives me a record of what has been sold. If it's been busy, you can't always remember what has sold. annabel

Keep things simple because overdoing how much you display makes people overload ... then they have a hard time deciding what they want and won't buy anything at all. boxerbratt
......Keep your duplicates out of sight, under the table. It is so frustrating to have many of one item out and then someone will ask if you have more. Then they don't buy anything.!!! Sometimes the more choices you have the less chance of a sale. annnabel

Hang tags.... Contact info, business cards, merchandise bags, etc

Rio Grande has a card that can hold a single set of matching earrings and pins. You have to add the glue on hanger or punch a hole to hang on a peg. I'm not sure what the item number is but if you go to their web site and look under display you will find them. They are cream colored and about 3x4 inches. I usually put the pin through the holes provided and punch new holes for ear rings. Trina

I also have a hangtag on each of my items that has my name, address and phone number. I can't begin to tell you how many calls I get throughout the year. BTW, I also got an answering machine with separate mailboxes (liike voice mail) and customers can leave a message for my Katydid Clay in that box--it helps---like an order that I received for 72 items for a pharmaceutical rep...."Yes for $1000." It would "break the ice" sorta speak and then the poeple would look to see what we had.

I have regular cards made up that I give to everyone who buys something, but I also have a simpler version that has my name and address only at the bottom and PIPKINS running down the side. This leaves the center of the car open to attach pins and ear rings, barrettes, etc. THis way, if the item is given as a gift, the recipient also knows how to contact me. This has happened at least 10 times since last November!

(If you have a website or photosharing site where your work can be seen,) folks will find your website address through "offline advertising" as well. For example, folks may check out your website after picking up a business card or brochure at a show, after seeing your work in a publication, after reading an article about you, etc. That's why you should put your URL on everything you can, including hang tags for your merchandise. Laurel

Let's talk price tags... I print off a sign that says ohh, the name of the product (say "Votive holders" in med. print) and then I'll put the price in a much larger print. I print these off and then I fold them so they make a 'tent' and then place them next to the display/product. There flat and fold up easy so space isn't even an issue with them. I have used a small piece of masking tape, but that can look a little shoddy on jewelry(IMHO). Jeanette

I bought a bunch of plain paper bags which I printed my name and address, etc on so that when somebody buys something, I can put it in that bag. That way the customer has not only a card with my name, address & phone # but a bag as well.
I bought plastic bags that say "Thank you for Shopping with Us" Jeanette
... wrap things in tissue (I precut some ahead of time in manageable sizes), and have bags (lunch bags work, especially if you decorate them!) This lends credibility -- if you pay attention to details, you look more professional. Sherry B

I make up a info sheet to give to large order customers and I slip it in there bag. It is basicly a newsletter outling past/present/future merchandise and what all I can do with my clay.
I do have gift certificates, but I basicly only offer them to friends. Jeanette

It's nice to have business cards ....or best of all color photo postcards ...for people to take away, if they don't want to buy at the moment but might buy later.
...If you can't do that, but you have other shows lined up, a little photocopied list of where they can see you again is a good idea. Sherry B

On your business cards you may want to have some of the things you make listed or referenced ....I am sure customers will not remember who’s card is who’s when they get home. boxerbratt

Another little thing you can do is MAKE your own business card holder.... gives a body a chance to show off their skills. Jeanette
....cover a metal mesh or other business card holder
...or you can make a clay couch business card holder (....see many ways to make clay couches in Sculpting-gen. > Sculpting Other Items)
...Laurel also covered flat glass pebbles with clay to use as "pillows" on her covered card holder "couch" ... they held her cards in place during wind gusts (hold cursor over words "Custom Orders" )......(see more details on these in Covering > Glass > flat glass marbles)

Oh, I just remembered!! Another BIG thing is inexpensive gift boxes. These things sell like hot cakes and I had to assemble them behind my table last year to keep up with them. They were flying off the table. I think I could send you the directions, if you are interested. I buy Christmas cards when they are cheap(like the after Christmas clearance sales) and then there is a way you can fold them to make boxes. My earrings fit perfectly inside and the designs on the front covers are a big attraction(people like to pick out there fav's!)! I do stay away from a card that has Mickey(TM) and Pooh(TM) or etc. stuff because I don't want to be stepping on any trademark toes. And not to mention they are very expensive! :o) Jeanette
Do you provide gift boxes? If so, it might be nice to display at least some of your pieces in gift boxes instead of just on the table top. Irene NC
... (for box directions, see Gift Boxes)

...give receipts with your business name on them (you can have some preprinted address labels for this).Sherry B

I would also use clear bags to put a purchase in because your customers will to be walking around....if they are carrying a product that you made, others are able to see it by looking at the bag... most people who really like it will ask where you got it. boxerbratt

(for info on signing your work, see Letters/Inks)


(for "display boards" showing polymer techniques and/or possibilities, see Demos category)

Trina's photos of indoor and outdoor booths and displays (website gone)
Marie & Howard Segals' various outdoor booths (from 20 years' worth)
Helen H's indoor booths and displays
Jean’s booth, displays and costumes for Victorian Christmas theme (website gone)
some indoor displays from Courting the Muse
Lauren's simple outdoor booth (see below)

Crafts Report magazine ( and read the monthly advice about booth design. Irene

Overall Booth Design

Use (all) your space. If you have a great big tent, use it all. Set up two tables and don't have them too far back. A large empty space in your booth does nothing to sell your product. It will not increase the size of the crowd in your booth unless it rains. tlc
How true . . . We have also had people crowd under our tent into our empty space during rain and not bought a thing... And the people outside the tent wanted to get in to look and they could not, so they just kept walking..... We now set up our display as close to the edge of our canopy as possible leaving room for some to stand under during rain...
We have also noticed in the past, that if you set your tables too far back into your space, people are not as willing to come into your display for fear of "being trapped."

Also is there any way you can create a back drop so the other crafters won't be so visible? Sometimes that can be distracting to customers. I'm thinking of something like the tall shutter-style doors, but those can get expensive (of course, they could also be display space.) Irene NC

Use folding screens to block view of something, to separate yourself from other sellers if there are no booths, or even to use as displays with items hanging on them ...or make your own (see more below in Large Displays) of these has 4 triangular shelves as well, which can be placed into slots on the screen when it's in the open position
...could use half-height ones one tables as well for display
....probably not best for windy days unless well anchored
... I got the fuzzy half of Velcro by the yard (about 54"), and made panels with grommets on the top like a shower curtain, and hung them in one show from the poles where they had curtains dividing the booths. Gail in Boston

Chairs are a definite no-no unless you are doing tarot card reading or something of that sort. People will definitely loaf if you allow them to, trust me.. Dave
...if your table is raised you should probably stand unless you have one of the high directors chairs. Or a stool....
...I know someone who used one of those folding step ladders and just perched on the edge. Dual purpose!Trina

Another thing, is keep the bee-hind of your table nice and cleeeannn!! Organization = professionalism...Jeanette

Also, I like to leave an open area on the tabletop where they pay for the people who are going to plop their giant purse or bags down.. . .and for a place for them to lean to write a check! Irene NC

Space your stuff out! Have a few small gaps here and there if you can, makes it easier for people to see things and doesn't look junky. moobaa

(summary) ... from a distance your booth should be interesting as well. You should be able to tell easily what you are selling. To lure in customers, you need some signs, and something to set you apart from all the other booths. I once saw a booth that had artifical flowers along the canopy. It suited the product which was victorian items. Fresh flowers on the table, well anchored against tipping, is a beautiful touch as well.
I once read that having one major interesting piece (not one that you necessarily expect to sell) displayed towards the back of your booth creates interest to draw people in. It also establishes the quality of your work. Many people admire expensive pieces and purchase cheaper ones becaues that way they can afford to relate to the artist.
Floor length drapes on the tables are a necessity. Solid color sheets are great for this. It also provides a great storage space for your personal things. tlc

I don't have alot of experience, but I know what you mean about being diversified. And wanting the display to be cohesive ) or keeping with a theme. If I put pens in large brandy snifters, then I want the bracelets and necklaces in/on/hanging from something that will go with that. DeB
Color helps--all of my booth stuff is navy and tan---makes all the clay colors show up better, and lots of things are in baskets, which fit the tannish/brown thing. If you are matching the brandy snifters, maybe go for clear---get lucite or glass bowls or trays (I saw some cute tiny lights inside vinyl rope-like tubes recently) maybe a sheet of heavy clear vinyl inside a frame so you can poke little holes and do earrings....sometimes what I do is go shopping somewhere like Walmarts or OddLots or where ever, and set your visual searchlines for the color, as opposed to the thing...I mean, don't look for "container" per se, look for "clear stuff" (red stuff, navy stuff, whatever....) which may turn up great items you would not have otherwise considered. . . . Look in departments you might not go to--pet supplies, cosmetics, autoparts, check 'em all! Sarajane

You may even want to take several pictures of different set ups, then ask friends which one they like. boxerbratt

Drape your piles of books, bricks, etc., with bright solid coloured fabric that coordinates with the jewelery you plan on displaying ....Keep color families together and try to keep like objects together e.g. covered eggs displayed on one multi-levelled section, an artistic arrangement of same toned necklaces, earrings etc on another pile. nokomis1

Teri's show displays (she uses 3 small cherry-red squares of fabric, "on point" and overlapping, on top of her basic black table drape. . . so that the front hang of the table looks like a large sawtooth, creating interest)

Our booth colors and materials are silver metal, cotton duck fabric, and wood painted a nice Martha Stewart sage green.
* We are also going to experiment with poster-size color copies from Kinkos to have large reproductions of my work as a back drop. They will be 1' x 2' color copies. That will cost 16 dollars a print. I'll have it laminated and then mount it to foam core board. We are going to have three panels and 1 will be just a black and white of our logo. Hopefully it will all turn out like our little sketches! And lights, lots of lights... Heather

varying the height(s) .... & risers

Don't put all of your products flat on the table. You need to raise some things up...some to eye level. tlc
...I found that stuff laying down on a table doesn't get noticed as much. Stephanie
...If you get the "Christopher Lowell" show on HGTV where you live, try watch it a few times and check out how he does his "tablescapes" .......he does a good job of showing you how to get different levels very simply --by turning paint cans, boxes, etc. upside down (sometimes stacking them for varying heights, then) covering (the whole thing) with cloth. Could very easily be translated into a vendor display. Jules
...I have various cloths for putting over boxes to make levels. Sarajane
...I've been known to wrap bricks in fabric or paper to give another height level, as well as to provide additional weight. Laurel
...You can put boxes under your tablecloths to raise some areas, then put items on top of that. Kim2
... On my tables I use wooden or lucite risers under a black cover to add height. Trina

Baskets and trays can be tilted for easy view with a small wooden wedge (also under cloth). Trina

..if there is a level layout of merchandise I like to break it up by putting up-raised items (like on books or blocks) Dar
To break up a mass, I've often used a running toy train (selling bears) or table fountain (candles), whatever works. Dar

Those small stackable storage containers are fantastic, and now I try to go to Target and pick up a few 6-quart ones whenever they run a sale. . . . (after carrying your inventory in them, you can use them as "risers" on your display. . .
. . . .bricks wrapped in foil make great weights on lightweight display shelves and can be less taxing than trying to use heavy display shelves.

Make sure all your tables are counter-height by jamming a piece of PVC (black?) onto each leg. It is *much* easier for customers to look at your work if they don't have to bend down to see it. Note: this will affect the length of your tablecloth.
...This past year I built tables that are higher than the average table. I think 36" high if memory serves me. This puts my merchandise up at eye level. I think that helps. DH is a sculptor and has a nice booth designed for me with tall 42" tables that are 2 x 2 ft. with all sorts of very cool custom made displays. Heather
....if your display tables are the normal 8 foot 'banquet' tables, go to the home improvement store and purchase PVC pipe in the correct interior diameter so the legs of the table can slide inside it.... Remember to allow the length to include the distance up to the bend in the legs of the table because they will slip down into the pipe up to the bend. I usually cut them 6 inches, and that brought the table up about 3 inches. Very stable, very easy to cut the pipe with a hand saw and very portable. Connie
it is more professional looking too... I jam a length (12" or 14" or so) of pvc pipe onto each table leg. Irene NC

I like the stair-step display -- very effective to show several things in a small space. Irene NC
...I have several free-standing grids for hanging things. . . I have half of it covered by staircase type shelves (also covered in the same material as my table). The other half isn't & I have baskets of tiny things (hanging?) on that half. When people walk in my booth, their eyes first go to the stair step display because it's at eye level. Then eventually, they'll go to the lower part of the table. I'd say this happens with about 98 out of 100 people. Cathy

What I use now is a plastic shelving system, and the top is cut-to-fit 3/4-inch plywood. I used upholstery fabric on the top -- folded around to the underside and stapled into place. Irene in western NC
...The (freestanding) shelves are from Target. They're plastic, and break down/set up really easily (4 shelves of grided plastic held apart by white plastic columns). I own two sets of these, and use one or both, depending on the space I have. I often break the shelves down into sets of two, and set them on my table tops. Laurel

fabrics for draping

(see more above re covering different-height boxes, etc. on top of tables)

I have found that draping the fabric on tables to the floor is a must. It just gives your booth a much more professional look and also allows you to store things underneath the table without your customers looking at the mess under the table.

Also when you decide on the covering that you want....make sure that it's not too long so that your customers get their shoes caught in it and trip and/or pull your display down! I saw this happen at a show last year and it was a horrible mess! Jan Ohio

I keep a table cloth on my table at all times. It gives it a warm/homey atmosphere.

I also would use a solid colored cloth, even for non-polymer items. (It's not so distracting and) it helps the people focus on the product, not the pattern. When we first started out selling, I bought this neat lizard and frog tropical patterned material to make table coverings with.. We had a lot more people commenting on where they could buy the fabric and not our pottery... We now use burlap and plain green or red coverings and have directed the eyes to the pottery instead of the coverings.. Dave

...I then spread it over a table so that the selvedge is hitting the floor in the front. If you get 60 inch wide fabric it will hang to the ground, over the table, and part way down the other side where you may be sitting.. . . If the table is free standing and you need both sides to be 'good' and hang to the floor, then wrap the fabric completely around the table, folding it some on the top, like wrapping a gift, with folds but try to make then lay at the edges. I bring tape with me, and tape the cloth down in a few places so that the weight of it won't drag the cloth down in the front.

I bought about 10 or 15 yards of a woven fabric, synthetic, permanent press, linen weave, and have cut it some when I am setting up the tables depending on the configuration. The type of fabric is not all that important as long as it it wide, not prone to a lot of wrinkling, and has good 'body' to it. I wanted something soft, but heavier than broadcloth and found a closeout for $1 or $2 a yard. ...
....To check for wrinkling, take a handful, squeeze, and release it. You will get some wrinkles with anything but try it on several things, and smooth it with your hand to see how it looks.
...Anything that is more polyester than cotton will wrinkle less than something that's all cotton.
...In regards to fabric wrinkling....I have found that if you pick a fabric with a pattern it tends to not show the wrinkles even if you have some. ...Another thing I haven't done but have seen done is that other exhibitors keep a spritzer bottle with water in it and spray the skirt with water...which removes some wrinkles...Helen H.
...I have some fabric I got years ago that I roll on a tube to keep it from wrinkling...

I have bought fabric online from Phoenix Fabrics for some clothes I was making. They have two sites, and where there are constantly changing stock. A lot of it is $1 or $2 a yard and I was very pleased with the quality. They are also good about answering questions and could tell you about the wrinkle factor on them too.

You don't need to go for upholstery or drapery fabric, go for a color you want more than the type of fabric. I would go for a plain fabric in a color that compliments your work.... something that people will not notice while they are looking at all your work. I figured best they forget the decor, and remember the work! Figure out the length of the tables you are using, and measure the short side ends in that too. Also try to determine if you would ever want more tables at future shows and buy extra so it will all match later.

. . . . (use) twin flat bed sheets! Nancy W.

...I put coverings on the tables that went to the ground (with sheets, then a fancy cover for the top)
...~I got some cheap synthetic velvet at WalMart and use that to drape my really make the clay shine and looks more expensive....Sam

I also duct tape the skirt to the table and top it with another solid color cloth. This helps because if the cloth gets dirty you only have to wash the top cloth and it eliminates washing the skirt too much, saving wear and tear on the fabric..Helen H.

I made my own table covers a few years back out of black double knit polyester. ( you have to check with some indoor shows because they require fireproof covers ). Trina

On part of my table, I use quilt batting with clear lights (mini xmas light strings?) underneath white flat sheets DianMo

.Also I have hemmed the edges of the table cloths...both underskirts and top dressings to allow a nice finish and weight to the edge of the cloths .Helen H.

I sewed a skirted table covering...Sarajane
....When I used tables in my booth, I used one fabric for a "skirt" that was attached around the underside of the table with velcro. Since it hung straight down, there were no folds of fabric at the corners that would occur if one large piece of fabric laid across the top and hung down. (Does that make sense to anyone but me?) I then used a contrasting color for a fitted tablecloth that hung down only about 2 inches.

Be sure to pack a lint brush, especially if you are using dark fabric. Masking tape rolled sticky-side-out around your fingers will work in a pinch.

"art" or professional look... and stuff on walls

The sculptress' advice was to try to emulate a jewelry store to present my wares as best possible. I cleaned up a wooden revolving display case I found in a dumpster behind a jewelry store about two years ago and am working on coordinating colors with my business cards, etc..(also throwing in a little feng shui here and there :)
I plan on putting pens in large brandy decantors filled with rice or easter grass, eggs in baskets and bowls with grass, misc. beads in glass sundae cups, but still not sure about necklaces. . . .The 'level' of this show doesn't warrant tooo much of an expense. I am going for "class without cash" DeB

I made simple table covers from the amazing dollar a yard fabric ala Wal-Mart and added burlap for a natural look. I only use willow baskets (and other containers) in the same color range to keep the clutter look down and increase the professional look of my booth. Pixie

(for more of an art, upper-end look . . . ) Another bit of advice concerns booth design. DON'T use tables unless you're doing something along the lines of a church bazaar. Let your creative juices run free free free and find a way of displaying your product in an EYECATCHING mannerat EYE LEVEL. Once you allow yourself to pretend that tables have never been invented, you'll discover all sorts of wonderful ways to do the job. When I travel, at least two thirds of my van is taken up with 'booth bits' and the rest with product.
... At my next show all my work will be displayed on doors that I dragged home from back alleys and second hand shops. They're painted in a sort of shabby chic style but in purples. blues and turquoise. It isn't that I don't use flat surfaces (I screw on a few shelves to some of the doors), I just don't use tables.. . . A friend just did a big show with a 'disposable' booth. The walls were made from printers' aluminum plates strung together with wire. nokomis1
....I think it's neat if you can arrange it to have pictures of your art on the back wall (high up) of your booth, assuming you have that kind of booth. Then if you are crowded, people can see why!!!...nowadays with scanners and color printers and related software, it's cheaper than it used to be. Sherry B

Not what you asked, but as long as I am writing, sometimes you want to hang things on 'walls' in a booth. I got the fuzzy part of Velcro by the yard, about 54 inches wide, and made panels with grommets on the top like a shower curtain and hung them in one show from the poles where they had curtains dividing the booths. Gail in Boston

Having a good presentation also extends to the person selling, their booth, and their support materials (brochures, hang tags etc.). I've learned that my best customers are somewhat upscale - many have second homes and/or have plenty of disposable income. I cater to them by providing an environment that appeals to them - my booth is more gallery-style than craft-show-booth-style. Irene

necklaces, pins, earrings especially

I like using the closable drapery/shower hooks because they are great for helping keep the tangle fairies under control when packing one on each end and pinned down in the box saves for wear & tear on my nerves? for out door shows they did not let the peices blow away even when open... wind faires off a farmers feild can be very strong …faun
....I use those metal shower curtain hooks to suspend things from the frame of my canopy. I prefer to hang my necklaces on these hooks, and sometimes set up one of those cheap, garment racks behind a table when I don't have my canopy frame. Laurel
... Small pieces of the spiky part of Velcro attached to the back of some things made them really easy to hang from those walls (after using the fuzzy part of Velcro on a panel across the booth poles?). Gail in Boston

For my fancier necklaces, I got some deep bowls (upside down?) and just covered them in crushed velvet. moobaa

Are there any mirrors for folks to hold earrings up to their ears to see how they look? or a necklace? Kim 2

Have things on more than one level -- use racks, or earring trees or something to get some items up in the air near to eye level. I found a pasta drying rack once that has a heavy base of wood, a vertical dowl in the middle with 3 holes drilled through it near the top. Smaller dowls go through these holes. You are supposed to drape your homemade spaghetti over them... I use my rack for hanging pendants. Could be painted to match a display. Sherry B

Check out Rio Grande for great jewelry displays. There service and products are wonderful and their earring stands are gems. Jeanette

I thought I'd share an inexpensive earring/pin display I just made. I bought a 30" x 20" sheet of S-Core - like foamcore, only sturdier, this has 2 hard plastic faces, about $5. Paul's Arts & Crafts had it, or probly a framing shop might have it. Cut it in quarters. You can cover it with pretty rice paper or other paper or fabric to match your display booth if you want, but I just left it white and taped the edges with white artist tape. Then set 2 leaves side by side like a book and run a piece of white tape down the seam to connect the 2 leaves - then it will stand up by itself like an open book. Makes 2 displays. My earrings and pins are on cards, so I just used double faced tape to hold the earring cards on the display. I guess if you don't use cards, you could just make a hole to put the earring wire through. Jan C

I saw a simple and effective way to display pins and earrings on the cards with the fold at the top. The artist had decoratively marbled a slatted window shutter and hung the cards from the slats. She suspended one shutter full of jewelry on either side of her booth.

. . . or use window screen inside a frame

what about placemats or blinds of bamboo, etc.?

Heather P's various displays (frames, wire "stands", etc.)... also picture frame with added dividers and a backing, to hold various items

wire display "trees" from which to hang/display small items (bundled wires, which spray up and out, ending in open spirals)
...see more on display "stands" and trees in Jewelry > Earrings

I soon learned that my pins sold much better when they were vertical, not horizontal. When people could walk up to the booth and the pins were right there in their immediate gaze, they sold much better than when I had them lying flat on the table. Same thing with the pendants. If they were hanging down, they sold better than if they were just lying on the table.
A nice compromise is to put some up vertically, to catch the eye, then put others in boxes and pointing them out to potential customers, as in, "Oh by the way, I have these other pieces on the table, if you'd like to take a look." Linda S.

Low-tech necklace display; take the back out of a picture frame and cover with felt, then use u-shaped pins to tack em on. You need the kind that stands itself up. Maybe you could ...find an old jewelry box that has some kind of gizmo for hanging necklaces on inside and take it out. I've seen some simple hangers made of a window screen in a frame, too. Kim2
...... I cut two pieces of foam core to fit one of the empty frames... taped them together with double sided tape... and covered them with black felt.... $1.99 a yard. Then I installed them in the frames.... and VIOLA! Instant spiffy looking display boards.. for almost nuthin'! Joanie

I bought a darling black fabric figure at Cloth World and use it as a prop for a necklace and many bracelets festooned on it!. Draws a lot of attention. Sarajane?

... if you do any jewelry- get a selection of (wood or metal?) frame "corners," varied sizes, and spray paint them all gold. Next, get a huge piece of cardboard (or your mat board!) and cover it with black velvet. Attach the frame corners randomly to "frame" a piece of jewelry- a necklace snuggled into a corner piece, a matching pair of earrings nearby, accented with their corner of a frame- maybe pointing toward each other- enough to point out that they go together, but purchased separately. Or, paint them all one color (I love gold!) and build a sculpture that you could either set small objects on, or drape necklaces over. Making them all the same color helps them to blend into each other and show off your product, but they add nice texture and interest at the same time. If you have a booth and use a mirror, hang some extra frame corners out at the sides, like parentheses, to accent the mirror. I love frames! ever notice the frame mounted on the back of the door of the set of Friends? Just an empty frame around the peephole. Nancy in VA

You can drape necklaces and bracelets in particular over all kinds of things
... natural objects like branches or driftwood, or something long or odd-shaped (maybe itself draped with fabric), or anything that fits with your theme and isn't patterned so it can work as a backdrop
...slate and driftwood

to display barrettes ..I was thinking of something like a black? velvet ribbon-wide (depending on which size barrettes- and maybe double it over and then sew a seam every so many inches for spacing- but that way they can HANG and they won't slide off the ribbon! Kim redcat
...Have a couple possible solutions for your lack of a sewing machine to make the ribbon barrette holders. First, once you've folded the ribbon in half, start at the folded end and put a thin stripe of glue using a hot glue gun on the "sew" line of the back length of ribbon, then press the two pieces of ribbon together. Move down to the next sew line and repeat........ luvpat
...or use fabric glue instead

I like to show folks the pins I'm wearing on my sweat jackets (so they can see how sturdy polymer clay is)
...they are fairly thin Premo, but they have been washed and dried at least a dozen times w/ no harm since I usually forget to take the pins off of the jackets before throwing them in the washing machine ... in fact, many of my pins look like they're right off a buffer after coming out of the dryer.
...of course, the pinback is held on w/ clay rather than glue. Laurel

(more) small displays

You can get 10x12 inch (or larger) plastic box frames, take out the cardboard liner, and have relatively nice clear plastic trays for things. I know people who line them with a layer of white rice or dry beans to give a textured background to display on. I used foamcore cut to fit covered with a layer of quilt batting and black velvet. (Wrap the fabric around to the pack and secure with tape or pins.) Sherry B
...I use $ store box frames as trays for pins and small items. Laurel

You can reach Jule-Art at 1-800-833-8980-- a great catalog for all types of acrylic stands and other display items.

For my light switch plates, I got two of the wall grid displays from a kitchen store. They measure about 2 feet by 4 feet each, and are sturdy metal coated with black vinyl. I screwed strips of wood to them in horizontal lines, tapped in nails on an angle, and I can hang, oh, probably 60 light switch plates on this. For display, they hang from the frame of my booth using chain and black vinyl-coated S-hooks. For hauling, I have a piece of thick bubble wrap cut to the size of the grids that I place in between them, and I then wrap bungee cords at the top and the bottom. Irene NC
...I use picture easels from the $ store to display switchplates and small items. . . . I have a CD holder which holds/displays double switchplates, a pot lid rack for triples, and some old 3.5" diskette holders for singles. Laurel
...since you want to display the switchplates as if they are on the wall, what about covering small pieces of foamcore board with wallpaper samples to make little display vingettes... . Helen P.
...see also bamboo screen mentioned below in Large Displays

Big baskets, little baskets, and wicker paperplate holders lined with squares of old indigo dyed cloth.Sarajane

I have a small spice rack shelf (3-tiered) for small bottles. Laurel

I sell my buttons from a fish tackle boxes. ...They are easy to use, look clean and nice, present the buttons as a group, close the lid and you are ready to go. You can see through and one box takes hundreds of buttons. Also people buy more than the 4 or 6 or what ever amount you tie (together) if you let them choose for themself. Some people by just 2-3 of one button, but take 5-6 groups if buttons are loose. ... At least here. ...The only buttons I have sewn to anything have been the "really expensive" ones I sometimes make but they are made around metallic shanked buttons and take about 1 hour each to make. Those I sewed into that www shaped cardboard (corrugated?) PöRRö

Well, I feel I got a lot of great stuff last night while dumpster diving. ...There is a gallery (or framing shops?) here that throws out some great scrap matting, and frames and foam board, etc. I came home with some of the (matte board?) frame samples that you see on the framing department's walls. … It is just corner pieces (but some are fancy). Hoda

.....More ideas for matte board frame corners? How about making a bunch of little triangle shelves for your display booth? Just a triangle of wood, with the frame piece as an edging for your shelf. Arrange them along the sides of your booth, as arrows pointing in. Make a "path" along the wall- a follow the arrows thing to highlight a display. Use them to frame the edges of panels, or the corners of your booth backdrop. Glue a bunch together in matching stairstep patterns for a spot display- put a velvet board across the top, with a stack of stairs at each corner. Nancy in VA

(If you make a display with wood, rather than painting it) my two cents worth is for stain. The nicks and dents from travel and set-up doesn't show as much. I had some black display pieces and was constantly painting and have even used a black marker at a show to cover the nicks in the paint. . . kstock3

for my 'carved head' bottle stoppers I have used different things, depending on how many I had. . . one was a nicely finished 3/4" to 1" thick board with holes drilled to fit the corks into. Jean NC
...A quick and dirty solution for bottle stoppers could be a bowl or tray of rice, etc., to stand them in.
...I'd also make sure to have a bottle or two near it, so people could see how the stoppers actually look sitting in a bottle (...they will often buy when they can touch and get involved with something too).
... you could actually cut off the necks from several real bottles and make a stand for them so customers could "try out" the stoppers in different bottle neck shapes
....similar to bamboo, lengths of PVC pipe might work... easy to cut with PVC cutters...could be placed upright, & also covered/embellished.Diane B.

(for displaying and selling pens, see Covering > Pens)

(more) tall or large displays

my folding bifold doors have triangular shelves we made that screw into them. I use them for velvet boards to display pendants. The display works well because people can get close enough to see everything...Dorothy

I also have rectangles of foam board covered with (fabric) buff colored cotton (like pillowcases that fit taut) to which I can T-pin items. These can be pinned or sewn together at the sides like folding screens. . . .I also have 6 of these with velcro sewn along the top on the back side, and these can be stuck to the other velcro part sewn on my booth walls (hanging screens)..which I sewed out of lightweight tan polyester...did I mention I sew? Sarajane
...Maybe a few tall frames with fabric stapled to them to pin up some necklaces and such. Kim2

While we are talking about booth set up's ... I saw a booth at a local craft show with jewelry. The jewelry cards were hanging from a black wire mesh unit. It was a very attractive set up.What I am interested in is finding the hooks that they used to hang the cards. The hook resembles a small version of a plastic shower curtain hanger. One inch wide and 2 inches long, black in color. You have to squeeze it together to close it. Jeanette

I use an old computer hutch at market I am in. We drilled holes on the inside to hold dowels and I hang necklaces and bracelets on them It also lifts things pretty high for "good eye level" Stephanie

I built wooden frames and covered them with chicken wire. The frames are hinged so they swing open. I then drape white flat sheets over them so I can use them to also display things. The great drawback is that they are very heavy. bmullard
...what about using PVC pipe instead?

Someone gave me a louvered closet door and we cut it in half and made two jewelry displays. The cards need to be big enough to fold and stick in the doors. (the door have to be upside down) My husband tried to make me a display and spent way too much money and we would have been better off spending the $40 or so on more closet doors. The problem with the cards is the wind picks them up like a sail at outdoor shows. Stephanie
...The louvres will also go in the right direction if you turn the doors backwards. To keep the cards from sailing, I stapled a piece of cardboard over the back of the shutters when I used them. It was on the back, so I didn't care how it looked. Fabric would have looked nicer and would have served the same purpose. Irene wnc
...I had a really hard time finding wooden shutters. I was gonna have to special order them, that is what they all said, everywhere I went. homedepot had plastic/vinyl shutters...not impressed with those at all.... not only were they pretty flimsy, the actual space where the slats were was maybe half the size of the shutter. so much wasted space. spent about 20 bucks on those, and only used them once. . . .I invested a little more money and this time bought a wooden shutter style closet door. it was already hinged, was a lovely light natural wood, extremely light weight (can carry it under one arm) and is 7 feet tall and is almost all slats. so much display area! I can get almost all my jewelry on it . . I spent about 50 bucks on it. . ..Kellie

see info on folding screens (some with triangular removable shelves) above in "Overall Booth Design"
...could also use half-height ones one tables as well for display

I use a bamboo screen my mom found at Tuesday Morning....gets lots of attention. ... I use it to hang my ornaments, light switches, and my sign. Sooz

. . . I love making things out of thrift store finds and stuff I've scavenged out of other people's trash (don't laugh--you'd be surprised at what you find!) Suzanne I.
...We go to garage sales every Saturday . . I could kick myself for not picking up a few things I saw earlier this year. lol Dystini

...The other day I found an old baby crib frame in a flea market for $15. It's one of those that has spindles (lathed natural wood) all across the head and foot and down both sides. I plan to hinge the pieces together two by two --the two side rails (standing on end) will be a floor display, and the head and foot will sit on my table (after I cut off the legs). This should be very pretty and light-weight. I'll probably put fabric in back to block out visual noise in background. I can hang my jewelry on cards with hooks fastened to the spindles. Suzanne I.

Peg board is useful. Attach a triangle piece of wood to the back for a stand. The hooks are really cheap. Painted they can look nice. Stephanie

Wood tree stands can be made. Dowels are cheap and holes drilled in them work for necklaces. My husband bought a round wooden base to attach it too. Stephanie
Ah, a chance to tell about one of my fave display items! I have the "skeleton" of an old 3-foot Christmas tree, which I painted gold and anchored to a wooden base, but this also could have been cemented into a flower pot or other vessel. It looks fab, and the small branches that are left are perfect for hanging jewelry. (And lots of other stuff!)...(or) look in your yard for a branch off of something which has several smaller "arms" that will look good when the cut end of the branch is in a pot or something. (Hmmmm......Perhaps something similar (like driftwood) with cup hooks placed randomly? ... I'll tell ya, I've sold a ton of stuff off of that little tree. (Another tree skeleton is my "seasonal tree", which sits in the house and is decorated for each holiday. Looks cool. :o) Hope this helps! -- ^,,^< Miracle
Just find or cut thick plywood about a foot square, and after you have a smooth (level) cut end on your "tree" trunk, put 2 long wood screws up through the bottom of the plywood and into the trunk of your "tree". Miracle
The "tree" idea is great for the Christmas ornaments. I saw a leafless bushy type plant stuck in a pot with plaster of paris...Marylu
manzanita branches make good trees...marylu

Sep 01, 02: I have a display that I made from a large picture frame. It has a box with shelves in it. the frame is the front it has plexiglass in it, and a solid plywood back on hinges. so that little hands cannot get to little figurines. I can unhook the back and remove pieces for adult viewing. If you saw Carol Duvall about two weeks ago, that is where I got the idea. Annette

I have been using a modular type display system called Abstracta for about 5 years for my jewelry. I chose it because it is infinitely versatile and light weight. It has a very clean and professional look which is important since I exhibit in many fine art shows. I like it so much that recently I have started to rep for the company. The system is basically made up of poles of various lengths and corner pieces of varying configurations that can be put together to make pedistals, jewelry cases, cubes, racks, etc. The pieces are purchased "a-la-carte". Anyone who has visited an art show will have seen it in many jewelry booths. I have to admit that the initial investment is a bit pricey (a basic jewelry/pedistal display could run about $500-$600 which does NOT include glass, shelving or fabric) but I have found it well worth the investment. Anne


What I found at the Christmas show that I did, along with three of our guild members, was that while the Christmas type things sold, they didn't sell all that well compared to other items.
...Gift items were the best sellers for me. Also, the usual sale of my "junk" pieces went extremely well.Dotty

I got some cheap synthetic velvet at WalMart and use that to drape my really make the clay shine and looks more expensive.... When showing Christmas ornaments...I put up a small tree and then wrap small boxes with paper and put tissue in them like presents that are alreay open and put them under the tree. People have a hard time visualizing and when they see them on a tree on in a wrapped box....they "get it". . . I sometimes take some fancy (but simple gold or silver or both) mesh ribbon and let it coil over the top of the table just to add a flow for the eye. . Sam

I have also used a window screen with a 2x4 nailed to the bottom and decorated the corners for the flat ornaments. Not heavy to transport, will get your items up high enough for the crowd to see at a distance, won't take alot of your table space and cheap to make or buy.Can use paperclips or wires or curtain hooks to pierce the screen and hang the items on it.A couple of Christmas bows stapled to the upper corners and maybe a string of twinkle lights strung around the outer edge and you are done. Connie B.

For the holiday season, I drape my table with white tablecloths and use a red tablecloth to cover boxes, etc. I drape a garland of holly leaves and a large, gold tree rope all twisted up around the table and add a pretty bow in the middle. kat
...If you have fewer Christmas themed items, you might consider a tablecloth in a more neutral color than red. Red works great for Xmas stuff, but if you used cream or grey or tan, your work would stand out more. Irene NC


Using props really enhances the product. . . . have something very eye catching at your table, something that will draw people in and will make them want to look. . .for example, if selling handmade bibs, have a doll wearing one of your bibs sitting on the table ...or if selling bowls, put something in them. boxerbratt

I bought (I think they were like the Rubbermaid brand ones) a small 'chest' of plastic drawers to bring to my craft sale. It is about 3 feet high, the drawers being about one and half feet high each. It is about three feet long and fairly deep. I keep my change box either on that or inside of it where it can't be seen and someone would actually have to come behind my table and get it. Jeanette

Along with the bags for my customers, I take pens, business cards/holder, scissors, tape, and other misc. items. I put them all in a smaller plastic storage tank and it fits right inside....Jeanette

Have a sign with your business and logo on it? ...Maybe a few tall frames with fabric stapled to them to also pin up some necklaces and such. Kim2

If you have a portable cd player, a little light music can help create atmosphere. Kim2

My junk stuff (usually sells well) . . those are the pieces I experiment with but either I don't like or don't finish which I toss into a large popcorn can while I'm working. Beads of all kinds that I'm tired of, or think are ugly, or whatever, small pins that I made too many of, etc. all go into the can. Later I sort them as to price such as ten-cents each, twenty-five cents, fifty cents, and a dollar. People buy these type of things as if they were candy! Most are crafts people who take them and finish them up… Dotty

Some people feel that freebies or junk bargains will bring down the level of your work in the eyes of some shoppers, or that crowds will form around those things and crowd out other shoppers.

The closest I have to a bargain bin is a clear glass fish bowl filled with assorted beads. People love to just look and dig through. Little kids that can't afford the other items can afford a 25 cent bead(left overs). I've had a biker dig through it for an hour looking for the right green bead for his bike. I let people know that if they buy something else they get a bead from the bowl of their choice for free. Sold tons that way and didn't take away from the value of my work. Linda B

Lighting: I use swing arm desk lamps from Office Depot or wherever. (The clamp on lamps are usually too short to do the job.) I've rigged up several different systems to attach the lights to my walls....I have two different sets of hard wall and 1 grid wall system. I use the same lights for each display but each has to attach differently.
... Occassionally I'm able to use the clamp that comes with the lamp...but only on rare occasions. One of the easiest ways of attaching that type of lamp is to drill a hole in the top of the shelving unit, wall or whatever and insert the 2" cylinder.
... Sometimes my walls aren't thick enough to do that . On one set of walls I had my husband mount small pieces of copper plumbing pipe to the top center of each wall section. the lights just pop into the pipe. The pipe is attached with small metal straps. ...its really only a matter of taking the time to invent a system that works for you. (Those particular walls by the way are made from barn board. I found an old barn and asked the land owner if I could have some of the wood. Most people don't mind if you are polite and don't cause damage to either crops or cattle... he carefully ripped them in half and rebuilt the walls 2' wide by 8' tall. Each board is now only 1/4' thick and they are secured to three 1/2"boards at the top, middle and bottom at the back.
It's past the time when i should have upgraded to halogen lighting. I strongly recommend it over the tungsten lighting because its so much more intense. Lighting can really make a difference to your sales. nokomis1
Lighting is very important. Long necked clip-on lights will do in a pinch but the big-box office supply stores sell the extended arm desk lamps which sell at Staples for around $10-12. (I mean the ones that have four springs holding the adjustable arm together- not the flex arm ones because they're too short).. The good thing about them is that they can either clamp onto the table top, or the lamps (after moving the clamp) have a short round tube at the bottom that will fit snugly into a hole drilled in the narrow top side of the window frame or shutter ...and your display will stand out. nokomis1
You'll need at least one extension cord that allows for more than one lamp to be plugged into its a good idea, but not vital, to get a power bar.
...Sometimes I seen ordinary table lamps used to showcase jewelry. They've all been lamps that first of all fit in with the display 'theme' and secondly have shades that pour the light down onto the items displayed below. If you use a table lamp, make sure light isn't shining up into your customer's face. nokomis1
......Even when I do outdoor shows under a tent, I always use electrcity. nokomis1

Dorothy G's lighted, black, display boards (folding screens) folding bifold doors have triangular shelves we made that screw into them. I use them for velvet boards to display pendants. The display works well because people can get close enough to see everything. At indoor shows I always request electricity and usually have it close by. I do carry long extension cords just in case. The lighting really makes the display work. Dorothy
(website gone)
...Lighting is a big thing with me. Unfortunately, I never seem to get close enough to a plug in to be able to use one...

I was looking at tech light systems, but they are so expensive. ...that means special ordering them and I just know that will be almost 200 dollars. ...They have a cable system with these beautiful halogen lights on cable wires. They look so great. ...You find them at lighting stores. ... I'm such a cheapo I'd rather get track lighting for 30 bucks at home depot! Heather
... I also have some of those funky halogen lights that run from overhead wires. My problem with them is that I have difficulty installing them by myself (need ladders). My next project is to pretend that ladders have never been invented and to figure out a method of installing a ...light system (at an 8' height so I can do it alone). nokomis1

...Doilies and pieces of lace draped give a nice effect and don't cost much.
...Sometimes I have used just the black fabric but other times depending on the season, type of show and what I was selling, I have put some antique lace and cut work table cloths on top of that. Really looks nice with 'antique' sort of items.
...Have you thought of twining ivy around the poles? Maybe pinning some to the sides of the tablecloths?

My display is required to be rustic (it's outside of a historical barn) so a friend supplied me with an old chicken roosting box, an antique cupboard, and some old wooden boxes. I am also borrowing a canopy. I plan to hang necklaces on the outside of the roosting box, on both sides of the cupboard doors and draped on the roof of the nesting box, which is slanted. Bracelets, brooches,eggs, pens and boxes will go inside the cupboard and box. But I'm a little concerned about how to display earrings. I want to be prepared for any wind that may come up...DeB
Foam core board covered with gingham or old pillowcases or flour sacks or muslin can be used with t pins to display earrings or other items--pin through the card to the board. Frame in an old frame or window if you want to get real fancied up, or hang with clothespins to a short laundry line. . . .Tag *everything* with a business card, put the earrings and pins on them, tie them through punched holes and a string or ribbon to necklaces, mark the price in pencil on each. Sarajane

Set Up, Break Down & Packing ...& checklist

anyone have any suggestions for how to make show set-up and break-down quick & easy?

In my experience, displays for shows can't be fragile. Whether I am in the setting- up-at-6:30-a.m. craziness or the breaking-down-and-facing-a-four-hour-drive-home frenzy, the last thing I want to have to do is treat something so gingerly that it takes more time than is necessary….Oh, also, you don't want any parts of your display to get more attention than your work. When someone comments on your clever display, you know your work is not getting their full attention. Irene NC

I don't do shows, but I do do projects with kids at schools and polymer classes so I have to pack a cart to hold everything and roll it to the site (these ideas pertain to cars too though):
...The thing I've noticed for myself is that the more self-contained and stackable things are, the quicker they load and set-up. So things like displays that can be loaded completely as is, then stacked in boxes or by themselves, or put together in one bag, really help.
...I also put a lot of thought into the order of stacking the things on the cart I use, so that the first things in are the things I want to remove last --and anything that needs attention before next time goes on the very top.
Don't forget that most people who zoom through the set-up and load-up have figured out a system that worked for them, then *practiced* it often enough that it's like clockwork. Diane B.

Those small stackable storage containers are fantastic, and now I try to go to Target and pick up a few 6-quart ones whenever they run a sale. You can carry a few stacked when they're full of lightweight stuff, but one at a time if they're heavy. . . . At the show, you can use them as "risers" on your display. . . .Those large, plastic containers that everyone else has can get heavy awfully quickly. I use my big containers only to hold display items such as easels, table covers, and baskets (which aren't as heavy, just large and bulky).

---First and foremost, when someone comes over to chat during set up or break down, I tell them I'll put them to work if they hang around -- they usually leave and let me do my thing!
~---A big time-saver is a display that can also be used to carry merchandise. For my light switch plates, I got two of the wall grid displays from a kitchen store. They measure about 2 feet by 4 feet each, and are sturdy metal coated with black vinyl. I screwed strips of wood to them in horizontal lines, tapped in nails on an angle, and I can hang, oh, probably 60 light switch plates on this. For display, they hang from the frame of my booth using chain and black vinyl-coated S-hooks. For hauling, I have a piece of thick bubble wrap cut to the size of the grids that I place in between them, and I then wrap bungee cords at the top and the bottom. Lightweight and sturdy and it protects the switch plates in the van.
---Ceiling fan pulls are displayed and carried in a homemade display that hangs from the booth frame but is hinged to fold in half to fit into a carrying bag.
I use chain a lot for hanging displays -- at the do-it-yourself home store, there's a decent selection of chain. I like the stuff that is black, and each link is about 1/2 to 3/4 inch long.
---And S-hooks. The large ones, from the same place I got the grids, are big enough to go over the frame of my booth, and small enough to fit an end into the chain.
---Clocks also go onto a grid. Each clock travels in an individual box, and they go into one of those Rubbermaid totes. Since I don't have to assemble and dismantle each clock and the beginning and end of every show, that's a quick and easy display.
---Each necklace is packed in its own ziploc bag, so nothing to untangle while setting up.
Rubbermaid totes are great -- the 10-gallon size is often on sale for about $6. They stack nicely, and are just the right size -- unless you're filling them with rocks, you can still lift them even when full.
---Booth and display stuff is all in its own tote box. Clamps all go into a certain cloth bag, big plastic clothespins into another. Chain, S-hooks, and pliers are all in a plastic box. Everything in this tote stays in it always, so I never have to spend time before a show making sure I have clamps or something. Woe to the person who borrows something from it and doesn't return it!
---I pack stuff the same way every time, so I can easily see if something is missing. I also do set up and break down in the same order every time, as best I am able to. You'll develop a system that suits you and you'll get faster every time.
---When packing after a show, pack neatly -- don't just throw all the earring cards and necklaces into a box and figure you'll sort them out when you get home. It doesn't take long to put stuff away neatly, and you'll be glad later. Trust me on this one.
---Another good thing to put into your show box (and leave it there!) is a first aid kit. Nothing fancy, just some band-aids, large bandages, peroxide, waterless hand cleaner, Neosporin, etc. (I also have eye rinse, Tums, ibuprofen, and anti-itch cream in mine.) Often it's necessary to set up an outdoor show the day before the show starts, and I learned the hard way that the first aid station isn't set up the day before. Irene in western NC

---Whenever possible, pack the car the night before, and do not unpack until the next day.
---Clear a corner of the garage not too far from the car, and store your inventory there in between closely scheduled shows.
......If the car must be packed in a certain way (with boxes, etc.), keep those items that must go in first in a separate corner from those that need to go in later. It makes it easier to unpack the car. (For example, my tables must go in 1st, then my tent, then the box of shelves, then the inventory boxes. Coming home, the inventory comes out 1st. Therefore, I keep my boxes of inventory in one corner, and the tables in another, so I can pack/unpack the car easier.)
---Designate 1 box your "admin" box, so it's easier to find sales receipts, etc. after the show. My price labels, business cards, receipt books, tax licenses, bug spray, scissors, tape, cards, shower curtain hooks, sharpie, ball point, blue tack and tools all go in my "admin box". It's only one thing to grab then, and easy to find.)
---Pack inventory according to how it will be displayed. I put the things that go on the "left shelves, left side" in similar boxes, "right shelves left side" in similar boxes, etc. Makes for less hauling stuff around. Laurel

outdoor shows: "show survival kits". What "unusual" items do you keep in yours? I include: Bug Spray, Cable Ties (good for anchoring stuff, including weights, on windy days), Repair Kit (jewelry findings, cord, glue), Sunscreen, Peanut Butter Crackers (they don't go stale fast, and are good for energy) Bottled Water Scissors, wire cutters, and jewelry pliers, Shower Hooks, Clothespins, String, Duct Tape, Safety Pins, Plastic knife, fork, and spoon Swiss Army Knife, Hammer, Extra Sales Books, Custom Order Forms, Super Glue. Laurel

checklist of 160 Things to Take to a Craft Show (from PoRRo)


I've had quite a few things taken from the shop that I rent a table from. Someone suggested to me I put some mirrors low down at the back of the table at sort of hand height. Apparently it's supposed to deter those naughty little fingers as they think they may be seen more easily. Haven't tried it yet though. I found more was being taken in the winter when the shop was slow and less people about. As to the craft fairs, although it makes me mad (you should have seen me - no perhaps you shouldn't!) it hasn't been quite such a problem. In almost 10 years of craft fairs, last year was the first time I had anything taken. Shelley

Watch especialy on women that put their bag onto your table! . . . the Tease

Sure, it happens a LOT at fairs. Best thing is to make sure you can see all of your stand all the time - people build up backings and levels etc. to make the display look good, which is great BUT make sure you can still see it ALL from wherever you propose to stand/sit most of the time. Standing is better, you look more 'in charge' and attentive, but you may get too tired to do it all day. Anything small but high-price, such as top-flight jewellery, should go in a glass-top case - looks high-class too! Also, small items are best sitting on stands or in bowls or something - slightly more noticable when someone picks one up. Crafty Owl

. . . & if someone in the light finger tribe has to reach up and open the closure they are less likely to even think about "borrowing " my jewels (because I used closed drapery hooks)… the gross movement is harder to conceal… pinning things to boards also was a good deterent …a mirror placed on the wall behind your jewelry/art at eye level is a good deterent people can hide their thoughts but actually seeing themselves as theif stops them in their tracks it makes your costomer see how Nice they would look in the necklace
I found my worse theives in minnesota was at the big malls in very expensive neighbor hoods the bored teenagers did not steal because they didn't have money they stole for excitement and counting coup among them selves the security guards were no help they just denied anything was happening… better safe than sorry....JMO, Faun
I find small S-hooks work fine and then people can pick them up to look at them. Is a closed hook a anti-theft idea? Trina"

My parents did craft shows all over the southern part of the U.S. for 10 yrs and had LOTS of stuff stolen (merchandise by clients and show supplies by vendors!!). They got to the point where they kind of expected something to be stolen and hoped it would be something inexpensive. And believe it or not most of their stuff was in glass cases~~but people can be crafty. … Once I asked my neighbor to help and she & her 13 yr old daughter came along. What happened was my neighbor wandered around the show (I finally suggested she go home that I didn't need her) so her daughter and I did the show. The little gal was a natural salesperson and people thought it was cute. I think she's going to help me again this year too. katbyte

when I do a show, my friend Al and I share booth space - he makes candles as a hobby and so between the two of us we work up an interesting display and help each other keep and eye on our goods. It also comes in handy for potty breaks and lunchtime! Ginny

Crafty i do not know if you teach??? But i asked some girls that are following my classes to help me out for free lessons and that way i always have enough people helping me because 8 meters isn't easy to watch over ;)… the Tease 


My booth is a KD Majestic Canopy. It was expensive but worth every dollar. It's similar in structure to the E-Z Ups, but the frame is 1 inch square aluminum -- very sturdy. The top is vinyl, which is cooler and more durable than polyester, and I've never ever had a problem with it sagging under rain. The sides attach to the top of the frame with velcro straps, and zip together at the corners. A friend who has the same canopy reported very good customer service from KD when she needed some replacement parts.
I've also heard good things about Lite-Domes, but have no personal experience with them.

Booths are a frequent topic on the discussion board at . You might check there, too, to get some more input.
IMO, if you intend to do more than one or two outdoor shows a year, it pays to spend the money on a high-quality booth. One windy rainstorm and you'll know why. Irene NC

Ronda wrote: I've decided to buy an E-Z up canopy tent (Like the Express model) but I can't justify over 200 bucks, so I'm looking for a used one.

how many times a year do you think you might use a canopy? I paid about $800 for mine (KD Majestic canopy) several years ago and it was totally worth every penny. I do about 10 outdoor shows a year. I've used it for four years, so 40 shows into $800 is only $20 per show, if it helps to look at it that way. And I think this canopy has another four years in it, at least.

I have seen too many of the "cheap" canopies collapse in heavy rain or wind. The frames are cheesy (easily bent and twisted) and the tops are not very high quality (tear easily, or sag and dump rainwater *into* booth). Oh, and the person next to you will be really p.o.'ed if your cheap canopy crashes into theirs and knocks down their possibly breakable and expensive display. I have seen this happen. Can you say liability insurance? I don't mean to be Ms. Worst-Case-Scenario, but this is one of the cases where ya get what ya pay for, IMO. You only have to have one disaster to regret a buying decision. I told ya a few days ago that I'm an advocate for getting a top-of-the-line booth!
Okay, that said, here's what I used for a couple of years before I spent the money on a real canopy. I purchased a "dining canopy" from Lowe's or Home Depot. It's the kind with a striped meshy fabric for a top, the frame is a bunch of metal poles. It was about $100, lightweight and easy to assemble. Since the top is not waterproof, I purchased a roll of plastic from WalMart --10 feet wide and 25 feet long. I threw this plastic over the frame and the fabric top over that -- it kept the plastic in place. I did hang fabric from the cross-bars inside to hide the plastic.
This booth wasn't as big as a real one -- maybe 8 or 9 feet square (instead of standard 10 x 10), and tall people had to duck slightly to step inside. Also, the fabric was thin green stripes on white -- not bad, but not completely neutral. The cross bars were not strong enough to hang any displays from, which they are on the one I have now. It served its purpose well, but in retrospect I realize it was not very professional looking. Okay for some shows, but not all.
That old booth, BTW, now gets set up in the garden every summer (without the plastic) over the lettuce bed to protect the delicate lettuce from the sun.
Whichever way you go, stake your booth well! A flying booth can ruin someone else's stuff, and you don't want to be responsible for that… I had been using sandbags that were in hand-marbled fabric bags, but they were starting to fall apart. So we bought some 4-inch pvc pipe, cut it into four 2.5 foot pieces, filled them with concrete, and sunk a large eyebolt into the top of each.
We set one at each corner of the booth and use a strap to attach the eyebolt to one of the top horizontal parts of the frame. Then we bungee-cord the weight to the leg. Each weighs about 34 ounds. These look less obtrusive than cinderblocks, IMO, and customers with sandals are less likely to stub toes on these. They're also a lot safer than using a cord as a guy-wire; people can trip on those things. Off the booth soapbox, Irene in western NC

I bought my EZ-up at the local warehouse store (a 10x10) and I didn't think I spent over 200.??? Maybe I did and I've erased it from my memory!? Have you checked there? The warehouse store (like a Sam's) was cheaper than buying the exact same booth online. I love mine! Even though it's much faster with two people if you MUST you can put it up by just have to do alot of walking around the frame. Good luck and I'll watch my local paper for a used one. Jan
I bought my first easy up at Lowe's Home improvement warehouse... and also Sam's Club carries them too.... Not sure if you have a local Lowe's or Sam's.... I think we paid around $130 at lowes for an 8 1/2 x 8 1/2... and I think they might be around $179 to 200 bux at Sam's... We need to get a new one... We have just a plain grey 10 x 20 that we bought at the local canopy sales place, but they are kind of ugly to look at.... We want to get a white ez up for our better shows.... They look more professional and alot of the higher class shows require them or something that looks nice... The grey ones just ain't purdy to look at even though they server the purpose... Also, you might need to make sure you have a fire retardant one tooo... Some of the shows we do need verification that you have one that is..... easy up has a web site, but I can't seem to locate it.....Dave

Easy up and Caravaan (sp?) both make good single (or two) person shelters.. .
...There is also a company called Flourish that makes some neat mesh side walls for hanging things on. Go to They are expensive but might be worth it in the long run. Trina

Check (search for "canopy") or your local classified ads for used ones.

I would check the party rentals places to see if they have small tents to rent. After all, a lot of lawn parties require tents and they just might have some available or know where to go to rent one. They also might have ones they wish to retire that you could fix up or pay someone to fix up, for a good discount. kelly

It has been my experience that the white canopy is better than the colored ones. When the sun shines through the colored ones it can cast a unflattering hue to your work. Since you want to present you things in the best light, white is my recommendation. IMHO deb jean

…I could not pay $800 for a good tent but watched too many 'cheaper' ones fly by me at shows. I finally found the solution in Northeast Canopy. 800-205-3704, PO Box 803, Vestal NY 13851…The heavy duty galvanized steel pipes, and canopy top and two sides cost $119.00 puls $25.00 for shipping from NY to MA I have used this at over 50 shows so far with no problem.
The drawback are: 1: You must have two people to set it up and it takes about a half hour. 2: The canopys are attached with bungie cords and there is an inch of space between the top and the sides so that rain does come into the tent. If you get creative you can make something out of plastic to prevent the rain dripping in. 3: It is not as attractive as the ez ups but looks ok. I have noticed over the last couple of years that more people are using them. I bought the fitted gables later at $40.00. I am envious as I watch others set up in two min. but for the money it is really strong. Karen Z

My experience with the poles and tarp kind of shelter is that people can fall. You definitely want poles that come straight down and not at an angle. Would not be a great idea to have people actually falling into your booth. In swimteam we had the ez up kind and as long as you always put them away dry they are great and will last a long time. Have you idea what brand they were but we have had them for 7 years in the Texas heat. Shauuna

A couple of points to consider when making your own tent:
A lot of outdoor shows want to see a manufacturer's tag that states the material is flame retardant. In malls and such, there is a 6' maximum to your display. Pat
. . . right now i'm going for backwater fairs where fire retardant isn't a concern. when i start to get a bit of income, tho - i'll definitely need to address that - say next year or the year after when i start moving into the more mainstream fairs. Sunni

(indoor only??) I'm just starting out so am doing smaller shows, and the spaces never seem to be a consistent size! What I've come up with cost me only about $50. I went to my favorite home improvement center and bought about 150 feet of 1" PVC pipe along with T-fittings, elbows, and straight connectors. The result is a frame that is easy to assemble -- just slide the PVC pipe into the connectors in the configuration needed for the size space you have to fill. I had to design it with several center supports because the thin, lightweight 1" pipe will droop if you try to span too wide a space, but that also means my booth is very flexible size-wise because of the extra cuts I made in the pipe in order to put in extra T-fittings for the center supports. Then you can use whatever type of drapes over this you want.
I'm using all whites and off-whites in my display, so to save money on the drapes I'm starting out using off-white canvas drop cloths I found in the paint department. I just attached velcro tape where I wanted the cloths to fit over the pipe frame and voila! Instant booth! Diane in NE

for tips on putting up tents, easiest displays to lug around, etc., see Disabilities/Shows


Which shows to go to, and how much inventory to take:
This is a very hard question for anyone to answer but you....but I'll tell you what I did to help make up my own mind.
I currently schedule shows approx from October 1 thru December 7th. This time period also includes an open house that I hold in my home. For each show I ask the promoter (organizer...chairperson....what ever the head cheese is called!) what the average attendance is. Sometimes I get a good answer sometimes I get blank stares. If they don't know because the show is "free" and they don't track attendance ask for a guess... From that point you can at least have an idea of the traffic you'll be seeing. Then also ask what the average selling price is across all can then compare what your pricing is to the "average". If you are selling ART and people are there to buy CRAFTS it could affect your ability to sell to that particular crowd. I try to attend shows prior to participating but I don't always have time to do that. Okay, so how many pieces do I take? I take EVERYTHING that I'm willing to sell immediately. If I have back to back shows and no time to replace inventory I usually hold part of the inventory for the next show to allow me to have something to put in the booth. If inventory goes to the last one I then take orders from that one. I will tell you that I know I've lost sales when I take orders. Most people want to pay and walk away with something. I generally have 250 -350 ornaments and 25 - 50 figurines at each show. Each show has been different as to how much I bring home. The earlier in the season the more I bring home with me. It has been my personal experience that from Thanksgiving to December 15th is my biggest volume. As I continue through my bookings I then decide how much inventory I'm willing to replace for the remaining shows. It's not a has been all gut for me. Talk to people that have been participated in the shows. Ask what has traditionally sold well. My spring shows never have the volume that the Christmas shows do. (that meaning attendance or sales!) I know that market research has shown that if your booth looks empty customers will walk past you, so think of ways you can eliminate blank spaces if you sell your items faster than expected. . . .Also, think of other ways to sell your items if they don't all move at the craft show(s)......home parties, open houses etc. Jan

This is Shirley from Salt Spring . I sell mainly in a market but the same applies to craft fairs. Unless you are a huge producer you cannot have too much. You are limited by the space you have and the innovative ways you can find to display. I have small items of jewelry so my answer is a lot.If you are starting out then go... see what other people have .. don't worry if it doesn't quite work the first time because you have to learn somehow. Meet people, talk to others and above all try to have a good time.

... just what is a "trunk" show? Is it the obvious? You show/sell as much stuff as you can "pack in a trunk" or a van?? Or a craft show booth with a new alias?? Cella
As far as I know, a trunk show is a traveling show with a limited inventory. Like the Alfredo's Wife show I went to last week. Alfredo's Wife is the name of an appliqued clothing line that used to be sold in several locations. Now they just have an outlet store in Cottonwood, AZ but several times a year they come to about 6 locations in CA with a sampling of their wares. I've never heard of any craft venues being called trunk shows but they could. My two cents. Trina
As I know them, trunk shows are when an artist has a one-person show, usually in a store. It's usually a store that carries their work, and for that day or weekend, the artist brings a larger selection and is present to sell it. It also usually refers to wearables - clothing or jewelry. Irene NC

I do 12-15 shows a year, and surprisingly , many of the shows in HIGH SCHOOLS are the best money makers..

I have great luck with my vases and votives. They are larger pieces with multiple functions (vase, votive, potpourri holder, art piece to be admired and adored ).Linda H

I also sell buttons and matching earrings. Trina

(see more ideas for good items to sell in Business > Where and What to Sell)

My friend helped be prepare for the bazaar. I wasn't going to include a particular vase because I thought it was UGLY. She convinced me to set it out. Well, a shopper thought it the most beautiful vase she had ever seen and gladly paid $25 for it. I'm thinkin' it must have been the first vase she ever saw :-) Sure was glad I listened to her. Rachel A.

I also line up boxes of stuff with signs on them that say:
"Really Terrible Junk Ten cents each", "Just Junk 25 cents each", "Junk That's Not Too Bad 50 Cents each", and "Really Good Junk $1.00 each" ...Dotty

(re doing shows) I always find that I have to discount my jewelry because some other vendor was selling similar items (mass produced). Very frustrating.
. . . I prefer to stick to the cheaper shows, and just sell off my overstock .
. . . Do bring examples of your commissioned pieces though - you'll definitely get a few bites. Karen Hardy, President, Beach Cities Polymer Clay Guild

What to WEAR

I am not normally interested in clothes. I am a tshirt and jeans kinda girl. denim shirts if I feel like dressing up. but I want to get a cool, artistic outfit for when I do shows. I see artists at the other shows wearing some awesome stuff, and they look, uh, well, so artisitc! but I don't know what these kind of outfits are called, or even what they are made of. Kellie

There are places to buy the kinds of clothes you're talking about ....maybe long dresses/skirts, ethnic looking stuff, handmade fabrics, etc. (maybe search Google for "ethnic clothing"?) . . . But many artists want to "do their own thing". . . even though some of it may be similar to what "artists tend to wear" Anyway, you could just stay in (well-fitting) jeans to establish your basic orientation, but add a top/shirt with some kind of artistic design or hand-made embellishment on it. Or, wear a plain-colored top (kind of fitted or knit maybe) with a very simple line (like a leotard or some kind of scooped, rounded, or V neckline), then add a striking necklace or pin. . . Layering is another thing you often see certain kinds of artists doing ...sometimes it can be many layers (vests over things, etc.). . . and mixing different patterns and textures is an "artisitic" thing, just like making a quilt or cane, etc.. . . Have you got long enough hair that you can add some kind of hair pick or barrette? Hope something there got your juices going ...Good luck! Diane B.

I've seen alot of people wearing the loose dresses Brigitte described, often hand painted or with a batik print. . . .expensive . . .Maybe you could find a cotton dress that you could stamp and design yourself? Here's a site that was recommended to me for such things . . .
--Or do something funky with your comfy jeans!
--If you don't find what you're looking for, just wear something simple & accessorize with all your FAB creations! That way your art is what stands out! . . .I read somewhere for jewelry shows, you should wear all black and change your jewelry often, you would have higher sales. Hey! You might get to go shopping----wooohooo. debbie

I think clean and untorn jeans plus a black top that will not conflict with any color of jewelry and maybe, yes, a vest will remain comfortable and still not compromise your own style. But really the choice is yours and either way, you are awesome and folks will love you and your work. caneguru

One look I have found that is simple yet artsy and comfortable is to go with your jeans and and a nice plain tee, and wear a nice jacket over top. The kind of jacket I mean is a solid color, soft and flowing, maybe hand woven or knitted. Ann

I dress up when I do shows, no doubt. . . . I suggest wearing clothing appropriate to that particular show and the customer it attracts.
Also, dress for success. People like to be around successful people, so I like to dress and act successful.
....sunglasses are a huge no-no, by the way, even at an outdoor show. Eye contact = trust. Irene

I know how it is when you have a *look/style* in mind but are unable to communicate it exactly or locate it in the dress shops. Here's a couple of suggestions you can think about. . . .
--*Ask* the artist' themselves where they shop. I'm sure most of them would appreciate the compliment and be happy to share where they shop with you.
--Secondly, since you have an *idea* in your mind your trying to piece together, why not canvas the 2nd chance shops. Place's like the Salvation Army and Red Cross outlets, places that sell pre-owned yet well maintained clothing.
--You already possess the only tool you need to put together this ensemble...YOUR artist mind! .. .You said you're not a *clothes* person. In this instance that's not required. Think of it more as putting together an artistic collage.. . When you shop, don't go looking for (a rigidly specific thing), that way something outstanding will catch your eye. It might not even be a piece you want to or can wear...but it will be the color combinations, the textures or patterns, a style or cut of blouse. Then build your artist wardrobe from there.
--If I'm reading you right, you're not going for the *boardroom* look, you're going for the *artistic* look which permits you a much broader and more choices. Flowery prints with stripes; prints with textures; colors of the rainbow even.~*-D A vest would be a wonderful piece to build around. Annie

I'm with Linda & Diane. Keep to your own style... but 'stylize' it. Nice jeans and a black, long sleeved turtle neck or crew neck shirt. That way you can vest it or not, and still have a nice backdrop for your work, The vest could be simple & solid or a batik or ethnic-type print. Carla

I think a basic black vest would go a long, long way - plus maybe a blue one with a long, full, denim skirt? You could do some really awesome stamping on a simple black vest though, and if you wanted, you could do the same with a skirt to match. Darla

It's a tunic-length, button up blouse that goes just below my knees. I wear it with either matching pants (dark green) or with narrow leg jeans. It's very, very comfortable. Carolyn

I think one of the latest looks coming into style are "dusters"...extremely long vests which you can button in the top area , and wear over a tunic (?) top and leggings. The ones I've seen are dress length, and I just love the look!.... the look I'm thinking of is (four decorative buttons under collar bone to waist . . . worn with thin pants underneath . . a slimming look as well). Darla

I have found some nice rayon dresses at a local shop that specializes in imported items...NOT fancy imported stuff, but ones that have neat little dragons, jewelry, wood chimes kind of stuff. I think the dresses come from India. . . .really comfy to wear! The only drawback is that you have to hang them to dry or they shrink! Jenny P. (and maybe handwash if they have lots of embroidery or it will shred in places)

My "show" clothes consist of long, somewhat full skirts in bold colors and patterns. I'm not a flower wearing type of girl but those skirts often are. Then I get slightly oversized silk shirts in matching colors, again bright and bold colors. A few vests that match in colors, maybe not matching in patterns. The vests are not so flashy. And a pair of nice fitting comfortable sandals. . . . I wear the shirt out over the skirt, with a length of lace as a belt, tied on the side with the ends flowing down. That is long enuff so when tied the ends almost reach my ankles. (With the addition of a headband/scarf and some wild jewelry, it doubles as a gypsy costume for halloween lol.) I have a variety of each piece and mix and match. All of it was bought for under $30 at thrift shops and I have probably 6 or 7 outfits if I wear them all in a row. I think it gives me an artistic look and is very comfortable, especially for hot outdoor shows. ...This is a very carefree look that I can just throw on and forget about. I don't worry about wrinkles unless they are very bad. My recommendation is to shop the thrift stores and think gypsy when you're looking. Dystini
...I don't really wear my work, not to mention most of it isn't even jewelry these days. I love to make it but I don't like to wear it. And you're right, my displays are plain and made to show off the work, not the display. But by wearing the bold and bright clothes, people automatically know who in the booth is the artist (my DH is usually there as my helper and my salesman). I'm not good at the selling part, I tend to keep busy with making something. Dystini

I have to agree that simple, dark, neutral colors are best if you are going to show your work on your clothes. Prints and designs will hide your work, just like the fabric you choose to display your work on. Lysle

while at the shows, seek out some of the clothing artists, talk to them, sometimes you can work out a trade. Sometimes they are willing to do special stuff just for you. Sometimes, you can buy what they call blanks. And decorate them up yourself. Jenny P.

HOME Shows

I'm beginning home shows soon...I have 2 friends who will be having one for me...decided I'd rather do home shows than jewelry or craft shows. I have Lupus, and CFS along with FMS, and the home shows will take much less effort and energy than shows. Also, it gets me out to socialize ... which I don't get to do much, along with allowing me to take a lot less inventory along.
The only thing is ... it's a little more intimidating ... since you're the show! …
I have the jewelry ..... a stand up model (black velvet), boxes, bags, receipts, credit machine, appointment book, table, tablecloth, pens, pencils, biz cards, brochures (catalogs), a new outfit, and I think that's all I can think of ... what am I forgetting?
I think we'll have it as a 'open house' type of show .... to come by and browse, and only order if you want ... no pressure.
But if we do a sit down show .... what do you suggest? Games? Or are they gone out of style .... are they boring? And if I do games .... what? I only have a small budget to work with, for prizes.
What else can we do? I'm going to give a small intro of myself and my pieces ..... how I began, etc. Dee

Just sit back and think of what "you" would like to experience if you were attending a home show and having the items presented to you. Draw upon your experience of what it was that made you possibly purchase something in this type of setting.
Someone mentioned doing a could make sample beads of this demo done ahead of time and attach them to your bizz cards to give out and then do the actual demo so they will be holding the finished bead in hand along with your bizz card.
I've had friends not truly understand how I make the polymer clay things they receive as gifts but once they have sat and watched me put it all together- their gifts somehow take on more of a personal feeling to them. This has also allowed for me to have special orders know, the "hey! can you make this using this color or that color for me?". Dawniedee

"Do what you're comfortable with. Be flexible. 'Read' your audience and respond accordingly." In a party setting, I suspect that you will need to "sell" both yourself and your product... stargazer

As the daughter of a veteren "home party-er" I can say it sounds like you have it pretty well together. I have been going with my mom to her home shows since back in the seventies when she was selling Beeline clothes! (her current business is Jafra cosmetics)
Games are ok if you keep them simple, and keep them on the theme of your night.
Mom always had everyone sign in (great way to capture names, addresses, emails for mailing lists) and then had a drawing for a door prize. One of your sample pieces would work great for this.
Giving your intro is good, don't forget to tell them a bit about the history of the medium you are working in, but keep that part brief, explain what it is and how it works.
Then show the different pieces you have for sale, explain how you'll give the hostess a prize just for having the show (this is a great way to get more bookings), and let them at it from there.
You should do very well at it. At least my experience of them from watching my mom, home shows do very well. She has always made a great income from them, and residual or repeat business can be high depending on your product. Elise

I am an Avon Lady also (beside the jewelry crafter and polymer clay), but not too many shows with either. But a couple years ago, I was also selling lingerie and doing the home shows and I must tell you, the first show I did was at a first cousin who works for the local sheriffs dept., and she had at least 20 women there, sheriffs dept. employees and other friends. From that show, I had bookings (shows) for 4 parties. then the next show I did, I got 4 more bookings and I ended up having 20 bookings (shows) from that first party. This is something you might want to think about, to get someone at this show to have a show and go from there.
As for a hostess gift or whatever, give a piece of your jewelry.
I would also suggest you might want to try the "floating" show first....I mean have people come during the hours of 1PM to 6PM or whatever time you set, just to look, try on and have some refreshments. See how this work outs, then do the sitdown one. And, I would suggest have it only fo a couple hours. Tell about yourself, how you got into the business and what you make.
You will need to wear some of what you make and if possible have a couple of women there to model your pieces and even show how to mix and match or what looks good with what piece of clothing. Several Sundays ago I went to a good friends Premier Jewelry home show. My friend has a one-bedroom condo and there were 20 women there, most sitting, but some standing around. The Premier woman told about herself and Premier, then had models (my friend, friends daughter and gorgeous 17 yr. old granddaughter). She had a table in the bedroom for taking orders. Friend hasn't reall told me but she did well enough to earn over $500 in jewelry.
The jewelry was not my thing, but I enjoyed it, saw a woman I went to high school with and hadn't seen in many years and "gobbled" down delicious refreshments. Charlotte

I think taking orders for items is great, but I also think having a handy supply of items they can purchase right there would also be benificial. Robin
..... I don't think you need a hugh amount of inventory, but I think people love instant gratification...LOL. I believe people will buy more if they can buy something right then (loosens the purse strings).
An earlier post had a great idea for a cane demo! I would not pick something too simple, but also not something that took too long. I find that if you let people handle the clay and play a little, they soon realize it is not near as simple as they might have thought. Most importantly, have fun!!! Maybe a little wine, some cheese, lots of laughs!! Robin

A few years ago I did an article for Lapidary Journal about Having a Home show…Leigh

(for more info, see also Business, Starting a Business, Teaching, Guilds, Creativity/Inspiration/Owning)