Designing A Sawdust Festival Booth

Creating Booth #229

Last year I gave you a brief outline of how the Sawdust Art Festival comes together, from Booth Pick Day through the booth building process.

I had managed to get the same location for 3 years in a row, so designing my booth didn’t take much thought. I simply took the design from previous years and tweaked it a bit to fine-tune the layout & functionality.

This year, however, someone else took my old spot before it was my turn to choose, so I had to pick a new location. Such is the way of the lottery system at the Sawdust! You can still find me in my old neighborhood, though – I moved just around the corner (to #229).

The new location has its advantages and disadvantages, but on the whole I think it will be great. It does present a few design challenges, however. Fortunately, I love space planning!

The Outline

Here’s what every artist starts with in designing their booth: the official plot plan.

180601_plot plan

As you can see, I have a basic rectangular space to work with (my previous location was a triangle – booths come in all shapes and sizes, some with trees in the middle of them). The diagram is not really to scale — the actual location is nice and wide, but very, very shallow. After taking into account the wall framing, I have less than 4 feet of space from the front edge of the booth to the back wall. This photo gives a better sense of the dimensions.


Note my cardboard cut-outs representing the counters and cabinets for my jewelry display! Although my space backs on to an existing structure (The Art Spot), I still have to build my own wall in front of it. This location also has an electrical box in it – that’s the green thing in the ground in the corner. I have to keep that accessible, so when the floor is done, my builder has to create a cut-out for it. It also constrains what I can put in the corner, since anything on top of that box needs to be moveable.

Design Challenge

If all I needed were countertops for jewelry cases and a chair to sit on, designing this space would be trivial. But I actually make jewelry in the booth over the summer, so my plan has to incorporate a functional jewelry studio. And since my techniques involve sawing, soldering, forming, and stone setting, I move a lot of equipment into the booth. I need a workbench, a soldering tank (which has to be enclosed in a fire-rated box), all the accessories associated with soldering work, a flex shaft, a buffer, a tumbler, a bench vise… and the list goes on. I also have to plan lighting, and where and how to run power strips for my equipment and lights.

I also have to account for a “husband space”. My devoted art slave (although he prefers the term “booth babe”) spends most evenings and weekend mornings in the booth with me.

And because I never leave my booth unattended, even to eat, I need a dining space. It’s usually just whatever surface I can clear at mealtimes, but for this year’s design I have ZERO extra surface space. Ikea’s flip-up Bjursta table will be used to solve this problem, although when the table is in use, I think I will have to crawl under it to get from one end of my booth to the other!

First Step

The first step is drawing out my basic construction plan: noting height, walls, flooring, roofing, and access to the booth. Because I build counters around the perimeter of the booth, I have to make sure there is a 2-foot wide opening to the booth. This plan has to be approved by the Grounds Manager at the show before construction can begin.

180601_Booth Plan Sheet

The Details

Since my space is so tight, I spent a lot of time double- and triple-checking my measurements. Being off by just half an inch could mean that the cabinet I thought would fit under the counter won’t. My booth builder suggested creating a recessed area between the studs to give me an extra 3” depth on my back wall shelf, which was a genius idea.


Usually my work area is in the interior of the booth, behind the jewelry counters. There’s no room for that this year, the jewelry bench is front and center. Customers will really be able to see me demonstrating my craft. The dashed line box between the chair and stool represent the dining table when it is in use. When it’s closed it gives me a 4” deep shelf, perfect for a beer or glass of wine!

Progress So Far


As you can see,  it’s coming along nicely!

Visit Me

Opening day will be Friday, June 29th, and the show will be open 10 am – 10 pm every day until September 2nd (except on the 4th of July, when we close at 6 pm). I hope to see you there, at booth 229, and in the meantime, is always open!

One thought on “Designing A Sawdust Festival Booth

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