Alternative display boxes

Hello Fellow Orchid Members -

I have followed discussions about Abstracta vs Dynamic Displays vs
Arizona Cases et al with great interest. I am in the process of
developing my booth yet again. I have changed my line of work and
now my pieces are anywhere from $100 - $400 and above, so closed
cases have become a necessity. I am not adverse to eventually buying
cases from one of the big boys but at present can’t afford it (I’ve
already been learning with my pocketbook and it hurts!) and I don’t
want to invest in something that is not what I will be using for a
good long time to come. Unfortunately I haven’t figured out what this
mostly finalized booth will look like yet! So, what I am asking you
all is for alternatives (home made or otherwise) to the major players
for display boxes. I’ve already contemplated shadow boxes (not deep
enough) and acrylic cubes/risers with no backs (not big enough and
if big enough well over $100 a piece, I need at least 3 or 4). Has
anyone else dealt with this issue and come up with their own
solution? Oh yes, and to up the ante, I was just accepted into a
show I had been wait listed for next weekend. Yikes!


Hi I had the same problem and one of my students made me a set of
risers with the top of them shiny like a mirror but not breakable.
Great for people to pick up the rings and trying them on but also
too great for shoplifters to just pick them up and put them in their
pocket as they walk buy (which happened to me last weekend) So now I
have ribbon which will be threaded through the ring (it can still
fit in the boxes) but it will also have enough leeway for the
customer to try them on. If a shoplifter tries to take a ring then
the entire counter will go, so they will not get very far with the
racket that will entail. Hopefully this will be the last shoplifter
that I will have.

Dear Rachel,

I’ve got a couple of cases I’m using currently. My most secure case
is a knockdown case from Allstate case company.

I’m using the #450 I think, in the aluminum finish, and around
$300.00. I’ve replaced the pad that is the base because the carboard
covered with fabric curls in the heat and humidity of summer shows.
Other than that, I really like the case. Looks professional, very
secure as long as you keep the door closed. We purchased a carrying
case for it too, as it breaks down in to separate pieces- the top,
sides, and base.

I also use an acrylic cover on another of my tables. It came from
company called JuleArt. I think it’s what they call a pilfer
resistant cover. If I remember correctly, it was around $60.00. It
also comes apart for easy storage and transportation. I had them
custom cut a specific size so it covers an entire small table. The
back is still open, so someone could reach around, but there are
always two people working my booth, and we’re vigilant. I’m
comfortable with my set up, but some might not be. Also, it’s
acrylic, so it can be pretty easily scratched. We store each piece
individually wrapped with soft cloth to prevent damage. Anyway,
here’s the web address for JuleArt:

The’ve also got great acrylic displays and mirrors. I’ve ordered
several times and been very satisfied- no personal connection.

Hope that helps.
In constant search of the perfect booth set-up…

Nesheim Fuller Design

Hi Rachel,

For my first display boxes I used glass panes that I had specially
cut to the sizes I wanted. I put them together with screw-on clips
that are made to clip glass together into a 90 degree angle. I
bought all of this at a glass store that cuts glass replacements for
windows. It was very inexpensive compared to the display cases you
can buy. My husband built a box to carry the panes in so they
wouldn’t break in transit. The downside was that they took a long
time to put together, and at one of the first shows I did with them,
I dropped one of the panes and it shattered. I spent half an hour
sweeping glass from many yards away - amazing how many splinters
there were. As soon as I could I replaced the glass with acrylic
panels - which, of course scratched more easily and once when I got
my lamp too close to the top - warped. All of this made a nice
looking display and was very economical.

Congratulations on getting into your show and good luck!


When I used to do Art shows, I used cases that I got the fittings to
make at NEC. They were just sheets of Lexan, held together in
backless cubes by these little clips that screwed on at the edges.
The Lexan I bought and had cut to size at a local place, and I
learned to wrap it in plastic wrap and slip it in a cardboard sheath
for travel. Set up pretty quick, and I got comments about how cool
they were all the time from other vendors. Just set them on tables
with black fabric drapes and set my little displays up inside them.
Cheap, easy to set up and easy to transport. I was told that you
could use glass too, but I didn’t want to risk breaking it.

Lindsay Legler
Dreaming Dragon Designs

For anyone else who is interested, these are the same set up I
mentioned in my post, and can be found here:

I also recommend Lexan instead of glass, and if you wrap them in
plastic wrap for storage they don’t get as many scratches.

I didn’t find the Lexan version I used to be slow to set up,
however. Glass may take longer due to weight.

Lindsay Legler
Dreaming Dragon Designs

I’m a bit behind in reading, and I suppose you’re knee-deep in your
show at this moment, but I thought I’d respond for what it’s worth.

I’ve been happily using acrylic cases with the clips that are used
for “glass cube” displays. The glass pieces are PROHIBITIVELY heavy,
and the acrylic makes a good substitute. Right, it’s not as durable,
but I’ve used them about 20 times or more and they are still doing
fine. At some point I will probably replace the top pieces, but the
rest will last even longer. I ordered the clips on-line, and got the
acrylic cut to the sizes I needed at the local hardware store.
Certainly didn’t cost $100 a piece. Originally I had folding tables
set out in sort of a Z pattern, and I made wooden tops to have them
be one continuous counter (as well as gain some more inches than the
tables themselves gave), and they were set up on pvc pipes to make
them counter height. A skirt was velcro’d to the underside of the
wooden tops, running the whole length of the Z. Simple draped cloth
could have worked, too. Currently I have five individual stands that
I built to support my cases, they are wooden and heavy. The
heaviness can be a bit of a nuisance when I’m schlepping them to &
from a show, but they are nice & sturdy when setup, and they aren’t
really THAT big of a deal, heaviness-wise. At any rate, my cases are
24" wide, 12" high and 18" deep. I can use risers nicely inside, and
I can have a decent height necklace bust in there, too, so the height
works well for me. The bottom of the case is high enough, counter
height, but I can still see easily over the top. They have the 1/4"
thick acrylic on the front, sides, and top, and are open in the back.
With my last setup being on what looked like a wooden table, I had
bottoms pieces clipped to the cases that were stained 1/4" thick
plywood. They stay sitting more nicely if you have a bottom piece
clipped on. I first had acrylic, but that would just get all
scratched up really fast, so I switched to wood. I liked the look,
too. Better to go with nothing clipped at the bottom rather than
acrylic. You could also use the plywood base & paint it whatever
color fits your display. Now I have them sitting on a velvet covered
base that has little posts at the corners for the case to sit aroung
and stay firmly in place. You can see my current setup on my website
at, scroll about half-way
down to where I list my shows.

I hope your show went well this weekend, and good luck redesigning
your display!

Designs by Lisa Gallagher

Hi All-

Just got back from my show in Salina, KS and I would say it went
pretty well (except for my ezup almost blowing away but that’s for
another time!) I was able to borrow some acrylic cubes in different
sizes that had open backs and could stack for display. Again, with
the wind this was not so great but it looked good for a little
while! I’m still searching for a solution for the next show and
slowly finding my way, thanks for all of the advice and help!


I use those “glass cubes”, too, and I also don’t use glass. Waaaaaaay
too heavy. I use just plain plexi, although perhaps as I replace the
pieces I’ll go with lexan like Lindsay suggested. I’ve used the plexi
for a few dozen shows and they still look fine, although certainly
not like new. Probably the top pieces will be the first to be
replaced since they get the most wear (people leaning on them and
touching them, etc). I made sleeves for each individual piece with
that fuzzy-backed plastic tablecloth fabric. I bought it by the yard
at the dry goods store and made them to fit, with a fold-over flap.
Each size (there are basically three- the two sides, the front and
the top- though I also have a short strip of a piece at the bottom
back) have a different patterned fabric, so I can easily tell which
is which. I even just stapled up the sides of the sleeves instead of
sewing them due to lack of time when I first needed them, and over 3
years later they are still just stapled. Some have come undone a
little, it’s not the best way, but you can certainly get by without
sewing them. I will admit that when I’m in a rush I wish the cases
were already put together & I didn’t have to screw all those darn
clips. I like the way they look, though, and after you’ve done it a
few times you can get pretty fast at it. You can also learn some
time-saving tricks like some clips don’t really need to be
tightened. The top piece doesn’t need all clips tightened to it, just
the two closest to you at the back. It’s also nice that they
transport flat and therefore are also very easy to store.

Designs by Lisa Gallagher

I use those "glass cubes", too, and I also don't use glass.
Waaaaaaay too heavy. 

I still use tempered glass. The 12x10 and 12x12 panels fit right in
a milk crate. Heavy is a relative term since half of my inventory is
rocks. :slight_smile:

With plexi-glass or lexan you have to be careful what you clean it
with. Glass cleaners with ammonia will eventually turn acrylics
cloudy. I built some theft guards for my cabochons. They consist of a
2 foot by 3 tray wide piece of masonite with piece of 1x2 trimmed
down to 1 1/4 inch setting on end glued and nailed. I then have
attached hinges on a same size piece of 1/8 plexi. I use 1" trays and
the plexi lays nicely over them. When a customer is interested in a
particular stone I lift the plexi up then present the customer with
the whole tray.

Just about everything is under glass or plexi now. I’m tired of
being ripped off.

I recently added some 12x30 and 10x30 panels which make a nice stair
step like display using a 10" riser. I had to build a special
carrying case for the 30" panels. I like having the flexibility to
change my display around depending on the size and shape of my show
space. I use the 4 foot adjustable height tables from Sam’s club. I
wish I had a picture of my current set up.

And if I occasionally break a panel not the end of the world.
Tempered glass shards make great filler media for vibratory tumblers
when grinding and polishing stone.

Rick Copeland
Silversmith and Lapidary Artisan
Rocky Mountain Wonders
Colorado Springs, Colorado