Friday, 30 September 2011

Craft Show Confidential: Floor Tiles - part 2

On my last blog post, Katie of linenlaidfelt made the following comment:
You might also want to look into FLOR carpet squares. They come in lots of awesome colors and patterns. Here's the website: http://www.flor.com/
For those of you who don't know about FLOR, they make a nifty product. All of their modular carpet squares measure 19.7" x 19.7". The tiles come in a variety of colors, textures, and patterns - you can arrange them in an infinite number of combinations.



I thought that FLOR tiles were only useful for permanent applications, but after Katie's comment, I decided to do some further research.

I had a very helpful chat with Deidra, a FLOR representative. I asked her if FLOR was appropriate for trade show applications. She said the following:
Yes, since they are modular they are easy to pick up pack and move to the next location, great for trade shows.
She then added:
FLOR is engineered with structural integrity to "hug" the floor. Plus, the easy-to-use, non-toxic FLORdots that come with every order are designed to stick to the underside of each tile and not to the floor beneath. Using FLORdots secures the tiles to one another so there's no curling, gapping or slippage. Your design will stay put until you decide to change or replace it.


The next logical question was whether or not the FLORdots were reusable and here's what Deidra said:
No the FLORdots will need to be replaced when you remove them from each FLOR square.
So, FLOR can be used for trade shows if you purchase additional FLORdots. The cost is $4.99 for a set of 12.

The cost per tile on the FLOR website starts at $6.49 (when on sale) and can go up to $69.99 each. I was happy to discover that FLOR has an online outlet shop. Prices are much lower there, starting at $3.49 each.

For a 10' x 10' booth, you'd need 36 tiles - this would give you a rug that measures 1.8" shy of the full 10' length (118.2"). If you purchased tiles that cost $7.99 each, you'd pay about $288.00 for the entire rug. That's around what I paid for my area rug from Pottery Barn. The advantage over the area rug is that you can customize it further to coordinate with the rest of your booth.

I imagine that there's some way to do a FLOR hack, meaning that you can use the tiles but with something other than the disposable FLORdots. Perhaps using industrial strength Velcro?

If you're using FLOR tiles for your booth, 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 FLOR for granting permission for the use of their product photos in this post.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Craft Show Confidential: Floor Tiles

Last week I gave you a general overview of the importance of flooring. Today I'm going to talk about one option - interlocking floor tiles.

Camelback Displays offers many options for floor tiles. The most basic being their foam rubber tiles:

As you can see, the tiles are assembled like a puzzle and it's quite easy to put together by yourself. The tiles are very comfortable to stand on and come in lots of colors. They're also eco-friendly - not only do they contain 20% recycled material, but they are also 100% recyclable.

Each tile is 2 ft. x 2 ft. in size - since they're modular, you can configure them in an infinite number of configurations. They're lightweight and easy to transport. They're waterproof and easy to clean, making them perfect for outdoor shows. Best of all, you can use them on your studio floor while you work, making them easy to store.

One variation on the foam rubber tile is the tile with the appearance of wood:

These tiles share many of the same qualities as the rubber ones. You can choose from a variety of wood finishes, such as dark oak, light oak, red oak, cherry, and walnut. These tiles offer the warmth of wood with the comfort of foam rubber - it's a great combination. An added benefit is that they add a more sophisticated look to your booth.

The last option I'll talk about is the carpet tile:


Once again, these tiles share many of the same qualities as the rubber ones, the most important being that they are have anti-fatigue benefits. They come in a number of colors, mostly neutrals. Not only do the carpet tiles add a cozy touch to your booth, but they also add texture. Of the three types of tiles, the carpet tiles are the most expensive.

Even if you can't afford a floor to cover your entire booth, you should at least invest in some anti-fatigue mats for where you stand. Take care of yourself!

Some last thoughts:
  • If you plan to purchase floor tiles for your booth, order them all at the same time. Dye lots can vary and you don't want to end up with something inconsistent.
  • Be creative! You don't have to stick with only one color - you can create a pattern with two or more colors, such as a checkerboard or stripes.
If you've used any of these types of flooring, 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 Camelback Displays for granting permission for the use of their product photos in this post.

Friday, 16 September 2011

Craft Show Confidential: Flooring

Flooring is just as important as any other part of your booth. When I talk about flooring, I'm referring to all floor coverings - carpet, area rugs, hard floors, etc.

There are two main reasons why flooring is essential for your booth:
  1. Aesthetics
  2. Comfort
Let's start with aesthetics. You work so hard at perfecting the visual image projected by your booth. You strive to create an environment that matches your brand and adds value to your work. In general, your booth will look unfinished if you don't use flooring.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then here's the majority of my blog post:

This is the carpet that haunts the room where I do a craft show every fall. To say that it's ugly doesn't begin to describe it. It's like a casino carpet on drugs.

Now here's a picture of my booth:

You can just barely see the hotel carpet peeking out from under my area rug. Now try to imagine if I didn't bring my own rug - can you see how it would not only detract from the design of my booth but it would also draw attention away from my work?

When you take control of all visual aspects of your booth, you can shape the perception that people have of your work. A complete, well-designed display conveys an aura of "I pay attention to detail and my work is worth it."

And if you think that flooring is only for indoor shows, think again. In his article From the Floor Up, artist consultant Bruce Baker offers interesting insight into another reason why flooring is essential:
At an outdoor show, if you are trying to sell art and there is grass under your feet, you are basically having a yard sale no matter how you dress it up. Grass also gets worn out with a lot of foot traffic and, if it rains, there is the mud factor. People won’t hang around your booth if they are slopping through the mud.
Next, I'll talk about comfort. You're not the only one on your feet during a show. Walking a craft show as a customer, you can cover a lot of territory. When the floor of your booth becomes a comfortable landing place, people will stay there.

Bruce Baker seems to agree:
When we get tired, walking is easier than standing in one spot. As a result, many customers move on to the next booth not because they’re bored, but because their legs are telling their brain to “keep moving.” And that is exactly what they do—they move on before you have a chance to sell to them.
So how do you handle this? One option is to use flooring that is inherently comfortable, such as foam rubber mats. I'll talk about these more in my next post. Another option is to put padding underneath another covering, such as an area rug.

However you choose to handle it, not only will your customers benefit, but so will you. While I use an area rug in the main part of my booth, I have thick anti-fatigue mats behind the table where I stand. I have found that my legs are much less tired at the end of the day when I stand on the mats.

In a nutshell, a booth without flooring is basically naked. It's like getting dressed up to go out, but choosing not to wear pants.

Don't go out without pants.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Summer Book Swap: MakingMyRent

This mini coptic-stitched book was inspired by the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Soviet Union. It's covered in burgundy bookcloth, a darker version of the Soviet's signature color, and features two vintage stamps from 1991 circulated in the U.S.S.R. The stamps show two scenes from Russian tradition. Inside are two sections of a vintage Russian/English dictionary and 100 pages of Wausau stationery paper. It measures approximately 3 x 2 1/2 inches. -- Amber of MakingMyRent
MakingMyRent has books for sale in her shop here:  www.makingmyrent.etsy.com

Summer Book Swap: UsefulBooks


Every so often, the paper level reaches critical mass in my studio, and I need to devote some serious time to making scrap books.  Not books for scrapbooking, but books made from scraps of larger projects.  This little cutie is one such book.  The covers were cut out as windows from a large travel journal, and the endpapers are pieces of my marbled paper that went well with an illustration from an old Golden encyclopedia that I used to cover the book board.   The mixed paper for the text block was also left from larger books made over the summer.  The closure is an African trade bead and waxed Irish linen thread.  I hope Surfbunny enjoys using it!  -- Cindy of UsefulBooks
Find Cindy's books in her shop here:  www.usefulbooks.etsy.com.  

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Summer Book Swap: SurfBunny


My swap book was created from all handmade paper.  The cover is a mulberry with skeletal leaf inclusions from Thailand, the pages are lemongrass fibers from our garden.  The lemongrass was beat in our Critter hollander for about 4 hours and then pulled western style.  The form of the book is a Japanese Daifuku cho (Great Fortune notebook) which was used by merchants as an account book.  The tassels were usually much longer and worn woven into the merchants belt thereby aiding theft security.              -- Duane of Surfbunny
 Visit Surfbunny's shop at www.surfbunny.etsy.com to see their books and handmade paper items for sale.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Summer Book Swap: Notuboc (Yatsu)


A tiny book made in the No-Longer-A-Secret Belgian style, this bright thing features more lemonade stands than you can shake a quarter at. the binding is done in similarly bright cotton pearle, and the covers are chipboard and scrapbook paper. -- Meredith of Notuboc


Meredith (aka Yatsu) has handcrafted blank books for sale in her shop:  http://www.etsy.com/shop/yatsu

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Summer Book Swap: Camille Riner

 
I thought that Meredeth would enjoy a book filled with the sights and sounds of summer. This book called "Forest Queen" was created after I installed my first bee hive and celebrates the restful quiet and the buzz of the summer season.

I used a book form I learned from Alisa Golden called a tetra tetra flexion. The pages of the book are viewed by "flipping" the book "inside out" from the center fold to reveal four panels.

There are two poems in this book, the first is about bees and reads, "Forest Queen-Your driving force feeds our dreams.-Making, Creating.-A working hive.-The honey flows." The second poem is about enjoying the lush wonderfulness of summer and reads, "Footsteps soft beneath your feet.-Birdsong splashes on your face.-Roots flow like skirts from the waists of trees.-An umbrella of leaves opens above your head.-Linger for a while in this refreshing shade."

"Forest Queen" features one of my digitally collaged relief prints and comes in a matching case and measures 2x6" closed. -- from Camille Riner
  You can see this and Camille's other creations in her Etsy shop:  www.camilleriner.etsy.com

Friday, 2 September 2011

Craft Show Confidential: Insurance

Ever since Hurricane Irene devastated the east coast of the United States, I've often thought about the importance of insurance.

Now you may be wondering what this has to do with craft shows.

Well, for one thing, you may find that some craft shows require that you have liability insurance in order to exhibit. Sometimes show promoters will include liability coverage for vendors and the cost is included in your booth fee. If you have to carry your own liability coverage, you might be asked to send proof to the promoter, so be prepared to make copies of your policy.

No one wants to be held responsible if something goes horribly, horribly wrong, so be sure to confirm who is responsible for liability coverage as soon as you sign up for the show.

Then there's the question of having insurance to cover you when in transit to/from and while exhibiting at a craft show. This is known as "inland marine" insurance, so named because it's for when you're not at your usual business location.

What does it cover? Individual policies vary, but coverage could include any of the following: supplies, equipment, booth structure, materials, and/or other business property. It would cover any of these things in-transit and at the location of the craft show.

For example, I heard a story where someone's entire inventory was destroyed at a craft show when another vendor's booth fell on top of theirs. Inland marine insurance would cover those losses. The fact is that things happen - protect yourself and your business.

The Craft Emergency Relief Fund (a.k.a. CERF+ and my former employer), is a wonderful resource for learning more about how to better protect your business against from unforeseen emergencies. In a nutshell (from their website):

CERF+ is a national artists’ service organization whose mission is to safeguard and sustain the careers of craft artists and provide emergency resources that benefit all artists.

Even though CERF+ is based in the United States, they provide information that is helpful to all artists - their website is definitely worth a visit. Their companion website, www.studioprotector.org, offers additional tips on how to determine which insurance policy is best for you.

Craig Nutt, CERF+'s Director of Programs (and all-around cool guy), offered me the following advice on investigating insurance policies:
  • Look for what's covered, then look for what's excluded.
  • Read the policy thoroughly.
  • Ask a lot of questions.
Unfortunately, I don't know anything about business insurance in other countries. I'd love to hear from those of you in non-U.S. locations. I'm also interested in hearing folks' experiences with business insurance.

Send 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.

Additional Resources: