Tweaking My Table to Save HOURS of Setup Time

by Barbara MacDougall.
(Ontario, Canada)

This was the first time I used the grid at a bead show

Wire Grid Display:

I read Dawn Kruchoski’s Pegboard and Tin Display with My Company Logo a short while ago, and I thought it was the greatest idea since sliced bread.

Dawn drilled holes in bins to hold preloaded pegboard items for transportation and storage.

I have tweaked the idea for using wire grids instead of pegboards.

Since a bead show in mid-October, I have finally started using three 2’x6′ wire grids plus two triangular corner shelves for stability (from which I hang my feather earrings on the diagonal part of the shelf) at the weekly Saturday market that I do.

I have strings and strings of turquoise and other beads that were taking me from 30 to 45 minutes to put up on my grid in the usual gem show fashion, and then another 30 to 45 minutes to take down: all that work for a 5-hour weekly market was far too time-consuming.

This was last week’s table. This week, with four rods, the turquoise is in the corner up top and my finished jewellery hangs where the turquoise is in this picture.

The beads ended up lying on top of each other in a bin, albeit with bubblewrap in between the rows, but the excessive handling cannot be good for the beads.

Two weeks ago, after stewing over how to tweak Dawn’s idea, I bought two 18″ matte black extendible curtain rods and some more pegs to fit the grid, which I had been using already but only to hang finished necklaces from.

The Guelph bead show picture (above) shows the standard layout, with bead strings hanging from the grid itself; the second picture shows my first tweak at the market last week: two curtain rods loaded with turquoise on the grid.

Showing the rods and pegs

It was so successful that for this week’s market I bought two more rods to hold a selection of necklaces sorted by type.

The curtain rods are large enough in diameter so that I don’t get ugly goinks in the chains or cords.

I use two lengths of pegs to offset the rows from each other and make the one row stand out from the grid, closer to the customer.

The turquoise is now hanging from the top corner grids and the necklaces are hanging from the moveable third grid in the centre of the table.

Those are hanks of Greek leather hanging from another long peg.

Detail showing the pegs

To set up / pack up / store, I simply lift the loaded curtain rod from the bin and put in on the grid pegs – and to pack up lift it off the grid and lay it across the bin.

The strings of turquoise and necklaces dangle freely down, but are gently wedged into the bin with 1″ foam pieces so they don’t rattle against each other and get damaged.

What was taking me almost two hours to set up / take down the strings and arrange (meaning scatter messily no matter how I tried to be neat) necklaces all over the table has now become a matter of a few minutes.

With the beads and necklaces off the table and together in one place at eye level they’re easy to see and examine and I can use the table to focus on new stock on busts, plus it makes for clear viewing of trays of beads, pendants and fetishes.

I use dark green rubber-covered garden twist ties to hold the three grids snugly together.

I’m strong enough to move the two corner ones together (the grids are stored in the market building through the week) so they stay tied, and the third one is attached with the twist ties, as well. It’s very stable.

Plus I can finally have a light which makes a HUGE difference as light in all high-ceilinged venues tends to be dim and dismal at best.

To access the necklaces I can move that one grid unit back like a door and lift the end of the curtain rod closest to the chosen necklace off the holders and slide the necklace off.

I do have to watch the weight of the storage bin as I have a dodgy back and knees and I’m limited in what I can carry.

The newest iteration will be to again tweak Dawn’s idea of drilling holes for the pegs, and this week I will be cutting rounded slots into the top of a taller thicker-walled bin that will now be dedicated entirely to hanging the loaded curtain rods.

The slots will be cut low enough so that the bin lid can be used, very handy when it rains / snows and to keep dust and dirt off the beads.

Again, I’ll cut one-inch thick foam pieces to cushion between the beads and necklaces.

For the foam I go to a discount fabric / outlet / warehouse store and buy camping foamies. I use a box cutter and ruler to cut the foam.

Other Ideas:

I am considering going over to the clean and professional one-size stacking jewellery boxes for storage and display (for no other reason than, except for the bin, my entire display would then fit into one rolling case!).

But for now I use interesting old cigar boxes and miscellaneous wooden containers with partitions and lids that I find at flea markets, lawnsales and secondhand stores and which fit the “gypsy caravan” look that I’m after.

A friend who owns a “real” store gave me some vintage boxes that soap had come in, cardboard, yes, but with partitions and an elegant embossed pattern on the black bottoms and gold lids. Really cool and subtly rich-looking.

I use scraps of the foamie to make pendant and ring displays for the boxes:

I cut a piece of foam to fit the particular box. For rings I cut evenly spaced parallel grooves into the foam.

I’ve bought a lot of stretch velvet or velour for my display boards, and I use the scraps for the boxes.

I wedge the velvet into each groove and tuck the ends under the foam, put them into the boxes, then put the rings in.

HINT: I learned this the hard way, but to keep track of rings, put the same number of rings in each row.

As you sell them, if you don’t have replacements ready right away, use a penny or a button to mark the place.

This will encourage people to put the ring back in the its place after trying it on and you will be able to keep track of your stock. No one is immune from sticky fingers these days!

I have a wooden cigar box full of valuable carved crystal and turquoise skull pendants, and I thread the price tag on each with fishing line and use jewellery pins to pin the skulls securely in place to the velvet-covered foam.

The foam cushions them when the lid is closed, and I place a piece of bubble wrap cut to size on top of the skulls to protect them from the wooden lid.

Just be prepared to get offers on the wooden cigar boxes – I discovered last week that they’re quite the collectible item and I should have bought more than one… but I sell jewellery, not collectibles… maybe I should sell both!

Thanks again, Dawn, for your great idea!

Barbara MacDougall
Artefaccio at Etsy


Display system that saves hours of setup time
by: Rena

Barbara, thanks so much for sharing this fantastic system (and many thanks to Dawn for sharing her original ideas with us too!).

I’m so thrilled that Dawn’s ideas here helped you make such a difference in your setup time. That makes a tremendous difference in how much energy you have for working with your customers and selling your wares at the show.

I so appreciate that you took the time to post such a complete write-up and great photos for others to follow in your footsteps.

I really enjoyed reading your post!

Thank you, Rena
by: Barbara

I’ve said it before, but this has to be best forum on the web for every aspect in regards to jewellery, both making it and selling it.

After I posted it, I had another blinding flash of insight: One of my concerns is with chains and cords getting those nasty goinks in them if what they’re hanging from is too small in diameter. Remember the post about using paint rollers for bracelet displays? I could easily thread one or two of those, plastic pipe or a thick cardboard roll covered in velvet onto the curtain rods, thereby protecting my investment and the life of the necklace chain/cord.

I’m really looking forward to reading how it goes fir other people if they adapt these ideas and any tweaks they come up with.

Thanks again, Rena,

RE: Tweaking Table to Save Hours of Setup
by: Dawn Kruchoski

Boy we have some unbelievably creative people on this site. What a great idea – I am glad to have brought you something that you can go by and I love your “tweak” – and just may have to do a bit of “tweaking” from mine and yours.
Awesome is all I can say!

Good luck this holiday season!

Dawn Kruchoski

Jewelry getting tangled?
by: Polly – Guardian Village Handicrafts

I prevent tangling by attaching shower curtain rings to the top and bottom of a handful of necklaces. Then I lay them in jewelry trays. !!!!!

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