Tuesday, 14 April 2015


   Displaying textiles at a Fair is quite a problem - you can't do much with the one 6' trestle table usually supplied and there are no hooks or rails to help on the walls.    You can show small piles of similar things on the table but you really have to have hanging space for most larger pieces.  So you must resort to collapsible dress rails which are heavy (if strong enough for considerable weights)and take up quite a bit of your valuable floor space.  Over the years I have assembled a variety of props which work quite well and I list them for your info. in case you have similar problems.   The most useful aid is my  Florence Nightingale screen frame which has three rails on each side.  These screens were used at Scutari and other hospitals for privacy for the patients and are well made and very strong, I used to see occasional examples at the big Ardingly Fair in Sussex and have always assumed they were surplus army stock considered obsolete and unhygenic for modern hospitals and sold by the then M.O.D.  The upright poles are sturdy and the rails equally strong and the ingenious iron hinges are pretty unbreakable.  I sometimes set it up on top of, and at the back of, my sales table.  Some people find laundry airing racks handy but they are only good for small items.   I have never seen a Florence Nightingale screen  with any  original fabric, but knowing Florence, and how efficient and practical she was in all her efforts to improve the care of the army, I expect it was something very strong and serviceable and unlikely to have been any flimsy and pretty cotton that we associate with bedrooms screens. 
   A little wire newspaper stand with shelves for folded papers acts as another display aid.
   A folding bamboo bookcase, painted blue, makes good shelf space for heavier linen articles and is light to carry and set up.
    I have invented my own 'rack' which consists of two 4" X 2" upright posts about 8' long and have two circular holes (diameter of the two poles) drilled through the 4" side one at the top end and another 15" lower down, for two rails. It has no base . Also, at the top there are two small pegs about 3" long, attached with a string just above the holes, one on each side. I then have two round poles (the rails) about 8' long with pair of small holes drilled to be each side of the uprights when the pole is slipped through the large round holes of the uprights, to take the little pegs on strings. The second (lower) pole can then be inserted and I do not bother with pegs there as the top is firm enough. The whole thing is then safely wedged against a wall if possible, behind the display table(s) which are heavy with linen, etc., and I tie the uprights to any available table legs so it cannot fall forward and maim me and my clients! The two uprights and 2 poles fit in my car with the ends sliding down beside the passenger seat and the whole thing enables me to show large tapestries, long curtains and much more. This saves excessive handling, folding and creasing and gives the customers a good view of large pieces, and the scale of any patterns. See enclosed very rough diagram.
This home-made contraption is now for sale as I have only one small final sale to attend - It is £18 (rather less than the cost of the timber and will easily pack into an ordinary car or van.  Regret cannot deliver as am too old for long journeys!
Contact 01225 866 136. 

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