Checklist For A Sawdust Booth

Creating A Sawdust Art Festival Booth

It’s time for my annual essay taking you behind the scenes at the Sawdust Art Festival. Last year I wrote about the challenges of designing my booth, which encompasses a functioning jewelry fabrication space as well as my display cases for selling my work. The year before that I gave you a brief outline of how the Sawdust Art Festival comes together, from Booth Pick Day through the booth building process.

This year, the story is about the down-and-dirty nitty-gritty work required to get ready for opening day. I’m in a new location, straight up the concrete pathway from Gigi’s Mediterranean Grill

directions to my new booth, #327  – it’s up the concrete path from Gigi’s restaurant

First Steps

After picking my spot on Booth Pick Day, I design my space, get it approved by the grounds manager, and then hand it off to my booth builder. He takes care of framing, flooring, hanging drywall, roofing, installing the light fixtures, and building my countertops. Then I come in and do the rest.

Mud, Paint & Stain

I mud the walls (filling in the joints with compound and adding a light texture) on one day, let it dry overnight, then come back the next day to paint. I stain the countertops and any work shelves.

painted and stained (note the monster tree I’m sharing with this year)

Phase 1: Power & Shelf

In the past, I’ve usually had one marathon day of work to set up the infrastructure of the booth, but my back just can’t handle that anymore. So I have to pace myself. I went back another day to install my power strips. This is always a hassle, because it generally involves  working under counters in very awkward positions. The cords must be stapled out of the way using insulated staples (I used to use the kind you hammer in, but a couple of years ago invested in a special staple gun for this, which makes this much easier), and the strips mounted above the floor.

I have a lot of things that requires power: main lights, task light, flex shaft, buffer, fan, pickle pot, interior lights for jewelry cases, tumbler and ultrasonic cleaner, and they all have to connect to my primary power strip, so that everything can be turned off at one location.

I also installed a floating work shelf during Phase 1, and moved in a couple of bulky things: a freestanding storage cabinet and the fire-retardant box that I have to keep my acetylene tank in.

Phase 2: Load in Big Stuff

A friend helped with Phase 2, which included moving a lot into the booth and setting up things which are much easier with two people! This included:

  • moving in my portable workbench
  • hanging my signs and posters
  • putting in the light bulbs and getting them pointed in the right direction
  • setting up the jewelry cases
  • installing the sun shade (I have one short side which will get very sunny)
  • hanging a mirror
  • touch-up painting
my portable workbench, along with the shelf I installed and the main power strip

Phase 3: Day Before Preview Party

There are still a surprising number of things to move in, and these are things which I tend to leave until the day before Preview Party (our pre-opening private event).

  • display forms (not heavy, but bulky, and several items just don’t fit in boxes)
  • portable shelving that’s part of my workshop set-up
  • sales materials: boxes, cash box, additional signage and education material
  • chair for me and stool for my husband
schlepping in more stuff

Phase 4: The Workshop

After the mad scramble to get ready for Preview Party, I move in the tools & equipment needed to create a jewelry fabrication workshop in my booth. My checklist for this is about 50 items. I won’t bore you with all of it, but here’s a sampling – the “bench tools” category:

  • bench pin
  • GRS mount
  • pliers
  • hammers
  • files
  • ring mandrel
  • ring gauges
  • bracelet gauge
  • saw
  • saw blades
  • bench block
  • sandbag
  • tweezers


In addition to all of the above, I am of course schlepping back & forth a ladder and necessary tools. All told, it’s about 5 carloads of stuff (and my car can be loaded with a LOT of stuff) and at least 60 hours of work that I put in myself to pack, load, unload & set-up.

Visit me

Opening day will be Friday, June 28th, and the show will be open 10 am – 10 pm every day until September 1st (except on the 4th of July, when we close at 6 pm). I hope to see you there, and in the meantime, is always open!

I look forward to seeing you at booth #327!