Decoding a few of the Mysteries of the Fine Craft Tradeshow Circuit

by Lisa Call on January 31, 2013

in News

As I prepare for the American Craft Council Wholesale and Retail tradeshow in Baltimore at the end of February I am learning a lot. As in more than can currently fit into my head.

One of the most critical bits I needed to address was the all important question “what will my booth look like?”

I settled upon propanel walls as they are perfect for hanging textile art.

They arrived in my studio last week and they are quite gorgeous.

Although I’m not sure who is more exited – me or the cats.

Building a booth with Propanel walls for the ACC Baltimore show ©2013 Lisa Call
6 big boxes and 200 pounds waiting to be unpacked. Help is already on the scene.

Building a booth with Propanel walls for the ACC Baltimore show ©2013 Lisa Call
1st box open. Everyone wanting to read the instructions all at once.

Building a booth with Propanel walls for the ACC Baltimore show ©2013 Lisa Call
The lower level of panels are up within 45 minutes. Union helpers are on break.

Building a booth with Propanel walls for the ACC Baltimore show ©2013 Lisa Call
No tools needed to set up the walls. Pretty fancy hardward holds it all together.

Building a booth with Propanel walls for the ACC Baltimore show ©2013 Lisa Call
1 1/2 hours later the booth is put together. It is 15×8 feet.

Building a booth with Propanel walls for the ACC Baltimore show ©2013 Lisa Call
It barely fits in my studio so getting a photo is a challenge.

Building a booth with Propanel walls for the ACC Baltimore show ©2013 Lisa Call
You know things are about to happen when all she does is look up.

Building a booth with Propanel walls for the ACC Baltimore show ©2013 Lisa Call
Yep – kinda expected that.

Building a booth with Propanel walls for the ACC Baltimore show ©2013 Lisa Call
Quality control gives the booth a thumbs up.

I’m pretty sure I have the worlds most expensive cat jungle gym in my studio and I’m looking forward to putting it back in boxes so I can ship it to Vermont next week so they stop using it as a scratching post.

Yes – Vermont – surprisingly this is the easiest and cheapest way to get it to Baltimore if you can’t drive it.

Breaking into the fine craft trade show biz isn’t for the weak at heart.

Next week I’ll be making line sheets, order sheets and figuring out my terms for the wholesale show. Never a dull moment!

PS – American Craft Council show details are here.

Friday, Feb. 22: 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 23: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Sunday, Feb. 24: 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.

The Baltimore Convention Center is at One West Pratt Street in Baltimore, Maryland.


Nanci E January 31, 2013 at 11:18 pm

Wow- a big step up in the world. It reminds me of the first and only time I did an outdoor event. (Cherry Creek no less.) And I had to go from 0 to 60 in a few short months. Tent, walls, flooring, supporting materials. etc. So I can appreciate the guts it takes to make this huge investment. That’s a lot of hours to be “on”, but you’ll be great!

Lisa Call February 1, 2013 at 8:48 am

Nanci – yes – it’s all rather crazy! I am at least indoors – so no tent.

Thanks for the vote of confidence!


Kristen Hoard February 1, 2013 at 12:27 am


The booth looks great. Wonderful color choice. It definitely goes faster if you have a helper too. Hopefully you got a good lighting setup as well.

Definitely dont let those babies become scratching posts for the kitties they will ruin your investment fast!

Good luck

Lisa Call February 1, 2013 at 8:49 am

Thanks Kristen,

I’ve got pretty good lights but I haven’t turned them all on yet. That is a project for tonight.


Judy Murdoch February 1, 2013 at 12:44 am

Looks great Lisa, good luck.

Lisa Call February 1, 2013 at 8:49 am

Thank you Judy!

Lori LaBerge February 1, 2013 at 8:51 am

Propanels are definitely the way to go. Really like the layout you created with them. Have a great time!

Lisa Call February 1, 2013 at 11:17 am

Lori – yes! They are pretty fun – like great big carpet covered lincoln logs.


Sherri February 1, 2013 at 9:10 am

Looking good! I look forward to shots of the real thing.

I was accepted into the Atlanta show a few years ago, but something happened and I didn’t get to go. Or maybe I just got cold feet! Logistics are crazy! I did do a big outdoor show (Main Street), and discovered it’s a lot of work just setting up. Smiling all day was also something new!

Lisa Call February 1, 2013 at 11:18 am


Logistics are indeed crazy – as is the expense. Yikes!

Yes – the smiling all day thing will be fun. 1 day is pretty doable – 5 in a row is going to be interesting.


Catherine Whall Smith February 1, 2013 at 11:14 am

Thanks for sharing this experience – it all looks so impressive. Best of luck – looking forward to reading your thoughts during and after the Baltimore Show.

Lisa Call February 1, 2013 at 11:19 am

Thank Catherine – right now I have 1 goal for this show “prove to myself I can do this” :):)

I’ll share more as it all unfolds!


Cheryl lynch February 2, 2013 at 5:33 am

This is so exciting Lisa. I love the look if the booth and how the frey will set iff your quilts. Do you pin the pieces to the walls? I wish you a great show and am sorry that I won’t be able to come to the show. Maybe Philadelphia next?

Lisa Call February 2, 2013 at 7:20 am


Maybe – it will all depend on what I think of this experience.

I’m using a combination of drapery hooks and pins to hang the work. At least that is what I hope to do :)


Dori February 2, 2013 at 3:25 pm

Wow! That’s going to be a great layout. You must be planning a lot more shows, that’s a hefty investment. I’ve heard great things about the ACC shows. I’m hoping to go up to the one in St Paul (to browse/shop) this year. Make sure you take and post lots of photos of the booth – I’m sure everyone will want to see the results of your efforts. I find looking at artist booths as inspirational as looking at the art itself.

Lisa Call February 5, 2013 at 7:13 am


The propanels were a big investment but if I decide these types of shows aren’t for me I can sell them and while I will lose money it’s not too much different than the cost had I rented walls for the show.

I’ll share lots of photos!


Ana February 4, 2013 at 11:54 pm

This sounds like an awesome way to start the new year! And you are also teaching. Way to go! Good luck with the booth and the show and I look forward to reading about your experiences the pictures.


Lisa Call February 5, 2013 at 7:13 am

Thanks Ana – I’m excited. All sorts of new things this year!


Dale Anne Potter February 9, 2013 at 9:46 am

WOW! What an AMAZING experience that is going to be Lisa! I look forward to seeing photos of your booth all filled & ready for the buyers. CONGRATULATIONS!
Stock up on energy before those 5 days – the smiling all the time is more work than constructing the booth.
ENJOY every minute of the experience!!!

Lisa Call February 10, 2013 at 11:24 am


Yes -amazing is exactly it – I’m pretty excited and think it will be most fun.
Thank you!


Margaret Almon February 9, 2013 at 10:16 am

Love the cat jungle gym! It helps to have a glove on when getting the drapery hooks into the Propanels, since they dull pretty quickly and need some pressure. Velcro is awesome for signage. Hope it goes well!

Lisa Call February 10, 2013 at 11:25 am

Margaret – thanks for the tips – I’ve added glove to my packing list.

Thank you!


Alyson B. Stanfield February 9, 2013 at 11:30 am

Tons of work! I’m hiding it from my kitties so they don’t get jealous.

Lisa Call February 10, 2013 at 11:53 am


You need to lock your computer to keep them from learning about these things!


mary February 13, 2013 at 10:17 am

so pleased that the panels went through a through feline quality check!!

Lisa Call February 15, 2013 at 9:25 am


Yes – it’s a good idea to ALWAYS get the felines in on the action – they have such good taste :)


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