Friday, 26 August 2011

Craft Show Confidential: DIY Fire Retardant Spray

In the past couple of posts, I talked about the importance of using fire retardant fabric for your booth - in general, vendors should have booths that comply with local fire regulations.

If you have a pipe and drape booth set up, you have three options:
  1. Buy drapes that are either inherently fire retardant or have been treated.
  2. Purchase fire retardant fabric and make your own drapes.
  3. Purchase the fabric of your choice and treat them with fire retardant.
Today I'm going to focus on #3. You can purchase commercial fire retardant spray, but it's pretty expensive ($15.95 a quart!). A less expensive option is to make the spray yourself.

Time for giving credit where it's due - I discovered the recipe in an article by Virginia Franco, How to Make Fire Retardant Spray. The recipe is simple and uses natural ingredients, so you can feel good using it.

Here's what you need:
Here's what you do:
  1. Put on your gloves - safety first!
  2. Using the funnel, pour the Borax, boric acid, and water into the spray bottle.
  3. Shake to combine.
  4. Test the solution by spraying a small piece of your fabric, let it dry, and then touch it with a lit match.
  5. Spray the fabric more as needed until the fabric passes the lit match test.
Alternatively, you can dip your fabric into the solution if you put it in a tub or bucket.

If you've made fire retardant spray before, I'd love to hear about it! Share your experience with the B.E.S.T. team by sending me an Email and I'll include it in a follow-up post. Be sure to include your name and a link to your Etsy shop.

Friday, 19 August 2011

Craft Show Confidential: Pipe and Drape - part 3

This week I'm going to talk about pipe and drape accessories.

Going back to last week's discussion about being in compliance with local fire codes, I found out that you can get iron-on labels for your drapes that identify them as being flame retardant. If you have these, you won't have to worry about losing paperwork.


If you have a sign for your booth, you can hang it using metal hooks:

The large part of the hook fits over the horizontal pipes at the top of your booth. The small part of the hook is for attaching your sign or banner (it slips into the holes). If you don't want your sign at the top of your booth, you can use fishing line or chains to lower it.

If you want to have table coverings that match your booth walls, you can get table skirts made out of the same fabric as your drapes. There are a few different styles:

Box pleats


Mini accordion pleats

Shirred

And if you love to stay organized, you can purchase carry bags for the different components of your booth. Nothing like having a skinny 8 ft. long carry bag!

If you have anything to add to the pipe and drape discussion, I’d love to hear about it! Share your experiences with the B.E.S.T. team by sending me an Email and I'll include them in a follow-up post. Be sure to include your name and a link to your Etsy shop.


Many thanks to Exclusively Expo for granting permission for the use of their product photos in this post.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Craft Show Confidential: Pipe and Drape - part 2

My last post focused on the pipes of "pipe and drape" booths. This post will focus on drapes.

Something you may not know about craft shows is that vendors should have booths that comply with local fire regulations. Any fabric used for drapes should be either flame-proofed or fire-resistant. You can either use drapes that are inherently fire retardant or buy fabric and treat it yourself.

Not all show promoters will tell you what's necessary for their particular show and requirements can vary from venue to venue. I've heard stories where fire marshals have come to shows, lit a match, and touched it to a drape to see if it had been treated. Urban myth or not, it's best to play it safe.

Most drapes that you buy from a pipe and drape vendor will already be fire retardant. If you want to make your own drapes, a safe bet is to purchase your cloth from a theatrical supply company, such as Rose Brand. They supply fabrics that are used for stage draperies, so you can find a large variety.

I bought fabric from Rose Brand to use for my booth table coverings. Upon request, a Flame Retardant Certificate will be issued to you for your records (I have one). I've heard that if you show documentation of your fabric's flame retardance, you can avoid a fire marshal's match test. Thankfully, I've never had to pull it out.

The standard drape that you'll find at most trade shows is made from Banjo cloth (I'm not sure where the name came from - they're not made from recycled banjos). These drapes are the most economical and come in a range of colors.

Banjo drapes have an open weave and are inherently flame retardant, which means that the flame resistant treatment will not wash out (they are machine washable).

Premier drapes are another standard type of drape. They're a more opaque fabric than Banjo and have a smoother texture.

Although they aren't inherently flame retardant, they have been treated with a flame retardant product. I own a set of Premier drapes and I can feel the treatment on the surface of the cloth. They also smell a little funky.

There are other kinds of drapes, including ones made of polyester and vinyl. You can even have drapes custom-printed with your logo or other imagery. You're only limited by your imagination! Well, your budget too. ;)

You'll have to decide how many drapes you want to use for your booth. In my booth, each 10 ft. length of horizontal pipe holds three 60 in. wide drapery panels. As you can see, it creates a gathered effect.

You can pull your drapes tighter for a cleaner, more contemporary look. The drapes have pockets at both the top and the bottom - you can thread your pipe through the top pocket and add weights to the bottom pocket to pull it taut.

Next week I'll talk about pipe and drape accessories. If you have anything to add to the pipe and drape discussion, I’d love to hear about it! Share your experiences with the B.E.S.T. team by sending me an Email and I'll include them in a follow-up post. Be sure to include your name and a link to your Etsy shop.



Many thanks to Exclusively Expo for granting permission for the use of their product photos in this post.

Friday, 5 August 2011

Craft Show Confidential: Pipe and Drape - part 1


Since folks seem interested in a general discussion of craft show issues, I'm going to dive right in with booths.

Booth requirements vary wildly from show to show. This can make it hard to decide what type of booth to invest in - and it is an investment. Having a craft show booth is a lot like having a house - it's never done. [insert groan here]

I bought my booth from Exclusively Expo in 2005 and have added to it over the years - shelves here, lights there - you learn what works and adapt accordingly. The company has been good to me and I recommend them highly.

The structure of my booth is what's known as a pipe and drape system. It's pretty much what it sounds like - the "bones" of the booth are made of aluminum pipes and they thread through fabric drapes, which then become soft walls.

The advantage of this system is that it's cheap compared to others. It's quick to set up and break down, and it can be set up by one person in a pinch. In this post, I'll be focusing on the pipes.

Here's a breakdown of the different components:

Bases


Steel base plate

Bases are put at the corners of your booth and are made of steel - they are heavy! The peg at the center of each base is what anchors the upright pipes - the pipes slide right over the pegs. For ease of transport, the pegs can be unscrewed from the bases and transported separately.

The slot in the base helps accommodate the pipes of your neighbors - you can just slide your base right over theirs. You can cover up most of the base with flooring or carpet.

Uprights

The exhibit booth standard height is 8 feet. There are two types of upright pipes to choose from - fixed (a.k.a. standard) and adjustable height pipes. Both of these pipes are made from anodized aluminum.

Fixed height uprights

Fixed height pipes are one set height and are cheaper than adjustable pipes. Sizes vary from 3' - 12' feet tall.
Adjustable height uprights

Adjustable height pipes are infinitely variable, within the minimum and maximum pipe size. For example, if you purchased a 6' to 10' adjustable pipe, then you could fit your booth in a site with 7' tall ceilings. If you know that you'll be doing shows with unusual spaces (believe me, it happens), then it might be a worthwhile investment to purchase the adjustable pipes.

Horizontals (a.k.a. telescopic drape supports)

Adjustable drape rods

Adjustable width pipes are infinitely variable, just like the uprights. Very often, a 10' x 10' booth isn't exactly that size. Your booth neighbors might set up before you and perhaps you lose an inch or two. The adjustable drape rods help you deal with that issue - and I have encountered this issue at most of the shows I've done. In addition, transporting pipes in a vehicle is much easier when they're adjustable.

The hooks on the end of the drape pipes are inserted into slots in the uprights - in a nutshell, they link together like Tinkertoys.

Some craft shows include pipe and drape in your booth fee. If you want to try out the setup before you buy it, you can often rent a set from a convention center or event rental shop.

I compared the cost for my booth in 2005 to today's cost - the price has varied little in six years - it still comes in under $500 for the whole shebang - this includes the pipes, drapes, and bases.

Next week I'll talk about drapes. If you have anything to add to the pipe and drape discussion, I’d love to hear about it! Share your experiences with the B.E.S.T. team by sending me an Email and I'll include them in a follow-up post. Be sure to include your name and a link to your Etsy shop.



Many thanks to Exclusively Expo for granting permission for the use of their product photos in this post.