to build a booth and other tales.

Hey friends! Remember me? That person who used to share with you about her letterpress life and other things? Ahem, yeah. It’s been a little busy around here. Mostly All gearing up for our debut at the National Stationery Show, which starts THIS Sunday in New York!! So this week I thought I would share with you a series of posts about us getting ready for the show, before blogging the big reveal of our 45(!) new card designs….

When we decided to exhibit at the show, I did a ton of research on booth options. I found some less than desirables: the very ugly drape provided by the show, or you could bring your own curtains, fireproofed of course, or you could have Manny Stone install foamcore walls for you, also fireproofed (this option costs a pretty penny, let me tell you!). I disliked the notion of using foamcore and then throwing it out, and I super disliked the high pricetag (thousands of dollars!) and so we decided to build our own plywood walls and ship ’em to NYC. That’s where all the crazy began.

So how do you build a booth? Here’s our 1,2,3:

We started (okay, Matt started) by building some plywood frames – 4 x 4. They made these nice boxes…

Matt hinged them together, and our walls started to come into place. Our booth is a corner booth, so it only has two walls (one eight foot and one ten foot).

When the the panels are all folded up – the fit neatly into a small(ish) and lightweight stack…

The next part was up to me. Painting! It seems like it’s always up to me… good thing I love to paint. I did two coats of gray primer, and two coats of… wait for it… gray paint. To be precise, gray chalkboard paint. I’d been itching to try Hudson’s colored chalkboard paint, and this was my chance. I chose a warm gray called Designer Special.

I painted without any childcare, so Cam was entertained by painting his own little plywood “booth”…

…if you see the size of that paintbrush you know I’m a mean mommy. 😉

Meanwhile, back at the ranch… more painting!! I ordered two laser cut MDF versions of our logo, and spray painted them a metallic gold…

It only took seven coats to get the right shine…

Once our booth walls were dry and cured, we seasoned them with chalky-goodness:

…and I did a couple of test drawings and realized I LOVE the walls.  The chalkboard made my heart skip a beat or two. I had to call Matt at the farm out of the blue to express how happy the chalk made me. Silly, I guess.

Audrey, my mother-in-law and intrepid NSS booth companion, came over and we did a test run putting the booth together and taking it apart, just us two, no power tools and no ladders. I’m SO glad we did that test run! Once it was all put together, Matt installed the logo:

You can see the chalk comes in handy for placement, huh? 🙂

Sneak peek of Booth 1671!!

I have since painted the molding (white) and of course those drawings were crazy-temporary. I also experimented with cards and a chalk-pen:

…and made up a little touch-up kit for NYC because I’m crazy like that. Hey, what if it gets a big scratch en route?

The final night before it shipped we stayed up very, very late and were very, very tired. Sounds like the story of every night this month, actually.

And it was off to New York for the pallet! We’ll see you later this week, little booth!

Coming up next… a peek at our mailer and our NSS giveaway(s)!



Leave a Comment

  • That looks amazing!!! Can’t wait to see it all in place. Oh to have such a handy husband!!

  • Kelly says:

    Very cool! Looks great!!! 🙂

  • It is beautiful! I love the warm gray chalkboard paint against the glossy gold logo. You’re going to be a hit!

  • Sharon says:

    lol – small paint brush for Cam — hey, at least you let him paint! 🙂

  • Leah says:

    Way too cool and creative! Huzzah! to the both of you for not giving into the usual (and hideous) booth options. (I’ve done a few shows in my day.) Your extra efforts will pay off in the end, believe me! I really love your sense of style and design with everything you two do. Be prepared for an onslaught of orders!

  • Susan says:

    Your booth looks brilliant! Nothing better than a touch of home and style to call your own on those lonnng show days. Happy trails & best of luck!

  • shannon says:

    girl this looks fabulous! good luck and i hope you are very successful at the stationery show.

  • grace says:

    Hello, LOVE your booth, I have been looking at your site and getting great ideas for the booth, can I ask, how did you stack it on top of each other? How did you hook them up?

    Thank you!

  • Leighton says:

    Looks excellent been thinking about making something similar for ages!
    How did you get it to stand?? Did you put some kind of feet on?
    Thanks in advance, Leighton

    • rebekah says:

      Hi Leighton! At the show, we attached it to the poles via zip ties, but it does stand on its own (with a bit of lean) just by virtue of the hinged center. No built-in return or t legs!

  • Grant says:

    Hi! Thanks for your awesome post!

    We are first time NSS exhibitors this year and we are going to make hard walls once we found out that Manny Stone is only offering 3/16″ foam core… which means no shelving! Yikes. So, we are hiring a carpenter, but I had two quick questions.

    1) Did you fireproof the plywood walls, or have to show proof that you did?

    2) Do you mind sharing the shipping service you used and approx. how much the shipping cost?

    Thanks in advance!

  • Hi Rebekah, thanks so much for this inspiring post! If you could copy me on the e-mailed response to Grant (above), that would be wonderful! I’m in the midst of deciding foamboard vs. hardwall and really hope to go hardwall. Thank you!! #fresh booth #1468

  • Miranda says:

    Hi Rebekah, We were neighbors last year at NSS. This year (for my second show) I am going to build my own walls (too much $$ for Manny) The “boxed” walls and hinges look straightforward enough, but I have two questions:
    1. How did you attach the walls to each other once they were unfolded and side by side? What if you arrive and the person behind you is already set up and you can’t get behind the booth?
    2 I see eye hooks at the top of your walls. Did you attach zip ties to these? Was the pipe and drape sturdy enough to keep the walls from falling down? Are the bottoms attached too?
    Your post was so helpful!

    Miranda, Ornament Letterpress (#fresh booth #1551)

    • rebekah says:

      Hi Miranda (neighbor :)) – We attached the walls together with bolts and wingnuts, although some people use clamps. The key is tool free fastening. We had the issue of booth set up (your booth was set up by Manny stone before we got there) and we simply put the booth together out a foot or two and then group lifted it into place at the end. We attached zipties, and the walls themselves are sturdy enough not to fall on their own – the zipties just help keep it straighter. The bottom of the walls are ziptied to the poles as well. Hope this helps! -Rebekah

  • Miranda says:

    Hi Rebekah, Thank you so much for your response I understand completely. I was just sitting with my friend looking at your photos and he was surprised at how thin everything was on the framing. It looks thinner than 2″ x 4″. Did you guys use 1″ x 3″? Has it warped at all? (his concern) How thick was your plywood? (1/2″)

    What were your panel measurements for the 10′ wall? It looks like you had at least one 4′ X 8′ panel but then two smaller ones. I suppose you could do any configuration as long as at added up to 10′ ( ex: 3 panels of 3’3″)

    I am pretty sure we are going to go ahead and I am so psyched!!

    Thank you!! – Miranda

  • madi says:

    Hi Rebekah, I found this very helpful thanks for sharing it. My wife and I do trades shows not nss. My questions is what company you use to ship your walls/equipment with and where to get laser cut letters? thank you any info will be appreciated.

  • Val says:

    Hi Rebekah! I’m sorry to inundate you with more questions, but I’m also building a booth similar to yours for my first time exhibiting by myself at NSS (was with Ladies of Letterpress before) and wanted to ask you about your solution for fireproofing, too. Your booth looked great last year and I’m grateful that you shared your build ideas here.

  • Joseph Rose says:

    I would also love to know about the framing (1×3’s?), and the fireproofing. And, pretty much any other detail that wasn’t covered. =P

  • steph says:

    Where did you order the MDF laser cutouts from? I would love to order some!

    Thanks in advance:)

  • Teri says:

    I am also interested in the fireproofing question Grant asked. Can you forward your reply to him to me?

    Your posts are incredibly helpful, and I can’t thank you enough.

  • Adonna says:

    I, too, am curious bout the fireproofing of the walls! Would love to see what you sent to there in this regard! Thanks for being so helpful!!