Portobello West jewellery designer LanaBetty tells us about her tricks and tips on how to light up your booth.
One of the very best investments you can make in your business is your display booth for craft shows, markets and trade fairs. But do you know what one of the most important investments of all is? Lighting. Yes, that’s right. Simply relying on the lighting available at your venue may not be enough. A well lit booth will attract customers and show your wares off in the very best lighting.
To find and select the best lighting display for your booth, do your research. I spent a great deal of time looking at display lighting on flickr, at many craft shows and markets around town. At live events, I looked for booths that had a group of people around them and thought critically about the display: what did I like the most about it? What did I dislike? How would I improve it? By critiquing other booths, I was able to disconnect myself in a way, so that I could think critically about my own, beloved booth. I will be honest; it was hard to admit the booth I had needed more. I had worked so hard on it in the first place, why would it need to be improved if it was already perfect? Well, it wasn’t. I had to step it up.
- 2 • 6 foot long 2×4 pieces of wood
- 2 • 2 inch hinges
- 6 • 3 inch wood screws
- 16 • 1 inch wood screws
- 4 • 6 inch, ¾ inch diameter bolts (and matching nuts)
- 2 • Ikea “Tross” overhead light systems (bulbs included, $12.99)
- 1 • 10 foot (or more) Extension Cord
- 6 • Wire connectors
- 4 • 3 inch strips, metal strapping (?)
- Electrical tape
- 1 • Screw Driver
- 1 • Drill with ¾ inch drill bit
- 1 • Pair of plyers
- Whole lot of elbow grease
- Work within your skill level. If you are unsure, ask for help.
- When cutting wood; make sure you wear protective equipment (googles).
- Measure twice and cut once is advice to follow.
- PRE-DRILL your holes. It makes life easier by a factor of 100!
Measure the length of your table. Cut the longest piece of wood to be the same length as your table. I have a 6 foot table, so I cut my 2×4 to be 6 feet long. I measured how far above my table I wanted my lights to hang; I measured 4 feet from the table top. As a result, I cut two lengths of wood to be 3’10″ to account for the height of my reinforcement wood at the base (see the pictures)
In order to keep my display secured to my table, I drilled guide holes the same diameter as my 3/4 inch bolts. I drilled the holes through the wood base and my table. When erected, no matter how hard any children push my table, the display will not fall over.
To connect the span (that will eventually house my lights) to the legs of your display, I recommend a hinge. The hinge allows me to fold up the structure without having to take it apart to fit inside my tiny car. (see below).
Now, comes the tricky part. Electrical. Cut the female connector from the extension cord (hint: it isn’t the side with the prongs). Strip 1-2 inches of wire and set it aside. Open up your ikea lighting (or another brand, if you can find a better price) and remove the ceiling attachments. Using the strips of metal strapping and your wood screws, secure your lighting on your display where you want it. You’ll notice that you have black wires and white wires that will need power.
Next, connect your extension cord to the lighting wires farthest from where your extension cord is going to attach to your display. If your extension doesn’t have two different colors, don’t worry, it doesn’t matter (for halogen or regular light bulbs). Remember to secure the two wires using wire caps.
Running your extension cord back to the corner where it will be attached, split your extension cord and strip 1-2 inches in both directions. Connect both strips of extension cord and your unconnected lights. Remember to secure the three wires using wire caps.
Secure the wires at the corner of the display. Be careful not to run the lights down the legs; when folded the wires will not bend very well. A clamp can be placed on your table or at the base to hold the wires when the stand is up. At this point, your lights should be secure, the wires attached and if you are ready to test the power! Install the halogen bulbs that came with the lights and plug in the lighting system!
In retrospect, I would have painted my materials before I fastened the lights to my structure, but I am really happy with how it worked out.
Other artists have used clamps and a network of extension cords but I like how the wiring is simple. I hope you have learned a little on display lighting; if you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment!
Thanks for the great tips and helpful photos, LanaBetty!