We all are on the road at some point doing a show or gallery installation and here are some hints and items I have found to be of great use, which are easy to transport and store when not in use.
One of the most versatile containers I have found to use no matter what discipline is the flat compartmented plastic fishing box. This is a clear plastic container about 2-3 inches deep, 15 inches long and 12 inches wide. Inside are removable and adjustable separators. These boxes are relatively inexpensive and will accommodate brushes, tubes of paint, tools and materials for jewelry and a host of other items; they snap shut and keep everything securely in place. I also use one for storing all my various hardware items, hooks, tools, etc. that are needed to set up and maintain the booth during the show and a second one has all my pricing tags, extra pens, receipt books, cards, etc. These boxes make it easy to pack for a show as they have all the items already organized and you just grab the box and go. The only point is remembering to restock them when you return so you are ready to go next time.
Displays are the biggest problem area for artists. Usually a show will provide a table or two but that is about it. But just a flat table will not work to show many pieces or to show them well. Instead of carrying lots and lots of props for your table get yourself a couple of sets of hinged slatted bifold doors. These are relatively inexpensive, especially if you get used ones at a yard sale. If not already done, hinge two together, then paint them up and strategically remove some slats on one side of each set at the height at which you want shelves. Now set a board between the doors. For security I put small L-brackets on the shelf ends so that it won’t slide back out of the slat opening. Now you have an attractive display area of multiple levels. An added bonus is that this system will reduce the amount of items you need to carry along to make an attractive display and the doors and the shelves all fold into a flat bundle.
For those who are jewelry artists displaying earrings can be a real challenge, you want them visible and accessible but also secure. I have tried circular racks, cards, bowls of rice and beans, you name it. The most innovative display I came across however is using a fireplace screen. This was simple design of brass with screen. The earrings were attached to the screen, hung there easily seen and many pairs were able to be on display in a relatively compact area. I have adapted this to also display necklaces by making a hook that attaches to the screen. Again the added bonus of this is that the screen folds up and lays flat. There is another artist using this fireplace screen idea and she lays a cloth over the pieces while still attached to the screen, folds it up and slips it all into a large pillowcase.
Finally, for hanging I use a wire grid that is attached with hooks to the structure of my pop-up canopy. This again has the advantage in that it lays and stores flat and is generally lightweight.
LJ Rosen is a fine artist and artisan jewelry designer living with her two furry assistants. You can communicate with her at her website www.ljrosen.com.