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Indoor display booth

Folks, I’d like your advice and experience. My show experience so
far has been outdoor shows, for which I have a tent and set of table
displays. I have a show upcoming at the end of November that is
indoors, 10x8 space, for which I am required to use side and back
booth walls. Outdoor tents are not allowed, due to ceiling height.

I’m not in a position to make a huge investment (thousands of
dollars) for a booth display right now. And searching online has
yielded lots of hits but nothing that would look right for jewelry
(mostly corporate trade show booths) or be within a limited budget.
So I’m curious what you all have done when faced with a similar

I’ve considered:

  • Making some type of wooden frame and hanging curtains from it

  • Renting booth sides somewhere (???)

  • Using shoji screens or something similar to create a sense of

Any advice you’re willing to share would be highly appreciated right
about now! Particularly if you can point me to suppliers, sources,
ideas, etc.

Many thanks!
Karen Goeller

Hi Karen,

I have a show upcoming at the end of November that is indoors,
10x8 space, for which I am required to use side and back booth

You might try using metal, electrical conduit (EMT). It comes in
various sizes & the length of each piece is 10 ft. From my
experience, I’d suggest 3/4" conduit. There are right angle fittings
available for the corners. Depending on the weight of the
curtains/items to be suspended from them. The base for the vertical
supports could be buckets filled with concrete. The verticals could
be cemented in place or a short section of pipe that the conduit will
slip into placed in the center. This method would prevent damaging
the verticals through bending. I’d suggest a 2 or 3 gal. bucket, 1
gal. is too small & 5 gal. is probably overkill.

All of the stuff is available at home centers like Lowes or Home
Depot & at a well stocked hardware store.


Check out Beth Rosengard’s booth on Orchid’s site of bench photos -
simple and elegant.

Karen: I am currently doing the same thing and the best displays I’ve
found were at You can either buy stock pieces or they
can custom make a display for you. I’ve estimated my cost at about
$1,000, but figure it’s an investment for the long run. I’m anxious
to hear other sources. Good luck! Tammy

The idea of the wooden frame with curtains sounds nice, but instead
of wood, consider using 1.25" PVC pipe and pipe fittings. It’s
cheap, easy to cut, easy to put together and tear apart, stores in a
relatively small space, won’t rot or discolor with age, no tools or
attachment hardware needed; just push together and you are set. And,
thought I don’t have any plans for one, I’m sure it can’t be that
hard to develop. And instead of curtains, how about a few nice
fabric shower curtains. Slip them on the PVC pipe just like a shower

And instead of curtains, how about a few nice fabric shower

Shower curtains are too short. I robbed my dining room windows the
first few times.


There have been several good suggestions about do it yourself booth
wall and displays. I will suggest that you check with the promoter
to see if there is a decorator for the show. If so they can rent you
the booth walls and display cases etc. If you make your own be aware
that most indoor shows have to comply with local fire codes and are
subject to inspection by the local Fire Marshal. If the Fire Marshal
comes to your booth to inspect you must be able to show that the
materials your booth is constructed from are non flammable or have
been treated to reduce their flammability. If they don’t pass
inspection you can be told to remove any non acceptable items. This
is why the rental curtains are fiberglass cloth and the supports are
metal. I have never had the Fire Marshal stop by my booth but you
should be aware of the possibility from both the safety and the
possibility of having your booth excluded aspects. So design
accordingly. Stay away from plastics and synthetic materials. Fire
retardant chemicals can be bought to treat natural fibers to reduce
their flammability but they don’t really work on synthetic cloth.

James Binnion Metal Arts
Phone (360) 756-6550
Toll Free (877) 408 7287
Fax (360) 756-2160
Member of the Better Business Bureau


Hi. One possibility for material would be photographic backgrounds.
They make them in all sizes up to about 20 x 40 or bigger.

They come in all sorts of colors and textures. We use muslin and
also grays - light and dark - for the color. Denny’s is a
manufacturer of photographic backgrounds and there are others.

A web search should find some. A 10 x 40 footer would get you all
around I would think. Price - it seems like they were betweeen $200
and 300.


    {snip} Any advice you're willing to share would be highly
appreciated right about now!  Particularly if you can point me to
suppliers, sources, ideas, etc. 

A sharp and easy design that came from a gal in my metals class when
she branched out was:

End result if three walls with wall mounting for jewellery display
and one island enclosed jewellery display.

Tubular tubing was used to make the wall frame. Horizontal bars add
strength and a place to anchor your wall hanging display cases.

They were attach to each other with wood dowllings screwed to a
pressed would base. No base for the top connectors.

She bought a carpet end that she lays out first and duct tapes down.

She likes corner booths so in the back she puts her wall. Angles in
the back, the other sides parallel to her square booth display area.
This angles structure give stability.

She puts the four foot small island at the other corner, traffic can
pass through between the wall and the little booth. She allows
enough carpet on the outside so that someone standing there feels
they are in this environment.

She has canvas to cover the wall. It wraps around top and bottom
and secures with velcro. There are eyeholes, like for buttons,
strategically placed so she can reach the tubing in the back. She
has a variety of them so that she mix up the composition.

The cupboard style displays have steel hooks (about 1/2 inch wide,
screwed into the back. Then she merely hangs them. They are nice
would with padded velvet forms for display of rings, and drilled
wood for earrings and the like.

She also uses a few spots lights to heighten the environment, and
create point of focus/interest.

A few extension cords and power later she’s done. It took us about
3 hours to assemble and be ready to sell.

She keeps the display boxes in cloth bags. The Tubes go into a long
rectangular box. A regular box for the rest, and the carpet gets
rolled. She uses a cordless drill to assemble the tubing on sight, it
reduces time, and the power isn’t always on when you start setup.

Hope this idea helps.
David Woolley
Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada

Remember what Jim Binnion said about fire marshalls. If you’re
indoors they’ll be checking for flammable materials.

About Abstracta, I’ve been using it for more than 20 years,
originally purchased when I had to fly to virtually every show. Now
I sometimes drive and its plusses still hold: compact portability
and layout flexibility being two biggies. I can also set it up on
my own.

But some of the down sides: If you have many angle joints it can be
painfully slow to set up and take down. Lots of little pieces to
keep track of and they sure do tend to fly around especially during
takedown. The pipe ends loosen up after a few uses making for shaky
displays. It doesn’t configure as straight-run walls, too floppy.
It needs several angles in the wall for balance – which leads to
wasted floor space. 135degree connectors would help a lot.

That said, I still use it for both walls and cases. My walls are
mostly 30" by 30" right-angle sections set side by side. I make
both framed work and jewellery. Walls are currently painted bamboo
roll blinds; small drapery hooks (upside down) fit between the slats
to hang the framed work. I formerly made case pedestals with the
rods but now prefer to add a shelf in the crook of the wall

A conventional and stable jewellery case layout might be made using
skirted tables. They’re very very cheap to rent at shows and I saw
24" x 48" plastic and aluminum folding ‘picnic’ tables this summer
for less than $40US. They’re too low for optimum viewing however
(everything has it’s downside!) so your display design needs to take
that into consideration; the case I ship my rods in get a cloth
cover and doubles as a plinth under my cases.

Bottom line: it’s definitely a workable system but if all you need
to add to your current display unit is walls I’d go another route.
I’m ready for something new, but what?


The inspection will include lighting. Be sure to use bulbs no higher
in wattage than your lamps are rated for. I don’t always like the
color temperature of compact fluorescent bulbs and they are heavier
than some clamp-on lamps can support, but they sure save on wattage.

I thought polyester table covers were OK because they tend to melt
rather than burn. Does anyone have a list of acceptable fabrics?


Hello Orchids, Fire retardant fabrics are available from They specialize in theatrical materials, and
those must also be fire-retardant. They also have chemicals for
treating your own fabrics. As a scanned through their site, I noticed
that they also have various types of pipesystems and they offer
digital printing on canvas banners (good for hanging photos of your
work in the back of the booth and transportable too). I’m not sure if
their prices are the best, but it seems like one could design a
really great booth with their products. I am in the process of
designing my own booth as well, so I will be paying them a visit
soon! Natasha Wozniak

[snip] They also have chemicals for treating your own

To save someone wasted money-- When I was preparing for my first (so
far, only) ACC show this year, I bought a gallon of (quite
expensive) fire retardant spray. It sat on the fabric, once dry,
just like salt, and made it stiff, as well. It brushed off on
everything, and looked like, well, let’s just say “not good”. I had
to rinse it back out. In case you’re thinking I just overdid it,
well, maybe, but even when I just sprayed it on, the results were
aweful, plus, the fabric would still burn. So I’d say, this is not
the best route!

If someone can tell me how to make this stuff work, I’d love to
know. As it turned out, no one at ACC checked my display, but I
wouldn’t want to count on that. Plus, I’d really rather not have a
flammable display!