photo of my art show booth, designed to look like an art gallery

Gallery-style art show booth by Kathy Engholm

Last spring I visited the Oregon Glass Guild’s big art show and saw some wonderful glass. I also saw my friend Kathy’s innovative, low-cost art show booth design, which looks simple but is chock-full of great ideas.

Kathy’s an author, blogger, artist, engineer and inventor, used to solving nasty technical problems (she’s invented a glass hanging system you ought to try, which is also available in Bullseye’s catalog). I asked if she’d mind contributing a post or three to my blog…enjoy!


Cynthia invited me to write a guest article about my new(ish) booth furniture, and booth design for art shows. This first post is about the requirements I set before starting the design. Yep, I’m an engineer, and my name is Kathy Engholm.

I used to make fused glass plates and bowls, then switched to fused glass-on-glass screen printing in 2014. In my old booth, I used shelves to display the work, but now the new pieces are made to hang on walls. I needed to make a new art show booth.

I set these requirements, which drove my eventual design:

  • Must look clean and high-class, like a fine-arts gallery.
  • Displays heavy glass panels securely, so that nothing falls if the booth is bumped.
  • Stores extra art, wrapping materials, and other selling supplies out of sight, but without draped tables or bulky cabinets that get in the way of the art.
  • Lets me rearrange or hang new art from inside the booth, since it might not be possible to get to the back side of the furniture after neighboring booths have been set up.
  • Fits entirely inside my Volvo XC70 station wagon.
  • Can be transported and set up by one average person.
  • Goes together in 60 minutes or less.
  • Integrates LED lights. Art shows frequently give exhibitors strict power limits, so low-voltage lighting is a must.
  • Minimizes the number of loose nuts and bolts that might go missing.
  • Uses inexpensive materials to keep costs down. (last, but not least)
photo of the art show booth in my car, with all its tools and accessories

The booth in my car, with all its tools and accessories

That seemed a pretty tall order, and in fact I spent more weeks designing this thing than I did building it.

The two most challenging requirements for this art show booth? Loose hardware and making it all fit into my car.

I just didn’t want to deal with a bunch of nuts, bolts, and tools. And since setup time at a show is usually short, I didn’t want a design that forced me to assemble something big and wobbly one piece at a time by myself with a screwdriver and wrench.

I wanted rigid panels, since they would be convenient for hanging pictures. But the cargo room in my station wagon was only 6 feet by less than 4 feet. That eliminated the rigid panels; I’d have to find a way to use flexible/foldable panels that still fulfilled my secure wall hanging requirement.

In my next post, I’ll cover the key parts and materials, which let me design furniture that can be assembled from a small pile of stuff and practically snaps together.