Evolution of an Art Fair Booth, Part Three. Seriously.

[singlepic id=398 w=460 h=380 float=] After last year I was absolutely done with my art fair booth. No more changes. Ha.

As always on the long trip back from Sausalito last year, Paul and I, sick of tedious setups and tear-downs, discussed how we could make things easier. Of course it would be easiest to just skip all the extra stuff I've added, set up the Pro Panels and be done with it. But if you have read my previous stories (rants? storants?) about how all of that came to be, you may understand that at this point I am kind of attached to the look.

So how, without sacrificing the basic feel of the booth, to make things easier? Well, we came up with a plan. And although this plan will admittedly make life easier in future, it did definitely NOT make my life easier the past few weeks.

First order of business was to redesign the naugahyde "baseboards." The current ones were frankly a giant pain in the ass to unpack, wrap on the walls, then unwrap and re-pack for every show. Worse yet, despite all my loving care and handmade individual flannel bags (yes really), they were starting to look pretty bad. The stain that I spent weeks putting on over the past few years was, predictably, coming off.

[singlepic id=402 w=250 h=240 float=left] I think it was Paul who came up with the idea to make one permanent "baseboard" per wall that stayed on at all times---brilliant! So, back to the upholstery store for about a mile of new, copper naugahyde that DID NOT NEED TO BE STAINED. Yay. Then I had only to cut then sew about 300 (really maybe 16) loops of the stuff, pop them on the bottoms of the walls, and hot glue foam inside to keep them from sagging. Oh, then go back to the upholstery store for 15 yards of bungee cord to keep them from sliding down from the weight of the foam. And... six months later... Done! (OK, so the breakdown on that was actually 5-1/2 months of procrastination and maybe two weeks of actual work. But still.)

[singlepic id=399 w=220 h=240 float=left] [singlepic id=400 w=220 h=240 float=left] [singlepic id=401 w=250 h=240 float=left] [singlepic id=396 w=250 h=240 float=left] [singlepic id=397 w=250 h=240 float=left] Then, on to the wooden top rails. They looked pretty nice and were in good shape, but had problems of their own. They were unwieldy to transport, and my original design severely limited wall arrangement options. Every year I made more and more rails to gain a few more possible booth layouts, until eventually at each show we ended up storing almost as many as we used. They needed to be modular, to be one-size-fits-all. I took on this problem, and after a few days came up with a design inspired by a combination of Greene and Greene's Gamble House stairwell and Tinkertoys.

The new design had one separate top rail for each wall, all the same, all interchangeable. Various simple connectors---straight, corner, and end pieces---would hold everything together. The scary part: the new rails would be made from the old ones. After that first chop there would be no turning back. Terrified, I procrastinated even longer than for the baseboards. But with a show just a few weeks away I was out of time. Luckily, after a week or so more of cutting, routing, drilling, sanding and staining, I now have a simple lightweight system that looks surprisingly not so different from the original. And as a special bonus, I still have all of my fingers! Hooray!

Finally, Major Booth Revision Number Three is complete. Today I took advantage of my trial run to take some booth photos for next year's show entries (see top of this post). So that's it then. No more booth revisions. No "Evolution Part Four." That's a promise to me.

Want more? Read Evolution of an Art Fair Booth Part 1 and Part 2.