It's a sobering thought to realise that I haven't actually exhibited at a fair since June 2006.
Since then we have thoroughly dismantled and cannibalised the various shelving units, display racks, etc which we used to display our dolls and kits on a 6 foot stand, which means we have to build one all over again. The normal UK fair stand space constitutes a wooden table 6 feet long by 2 feet 6 inches wide. Over the previous 18 or so years I'd been exhibiting at fairs, I had gradually developed a modular design to display my wares, trying to fit as much as possible into this relatively small space.
For Miniatura, I am downsizing a fair bit, and having a 4 foot stand, which will still give me plenty of space to display my tiny vintage toy dolls and playthings..........the smallest baby doll is just 1" and the largest toy doll is 1 3/4" so lack of space is not an issue.
However, displaying very small items to best advantage is a challenge, and we are completely redesigning and building our display area from scratch.
The spring Miniatura this year is the 50th show, so it is the Golden Anniversary. This neatly avoids major decisions on colour. We are going with black and gold. Classy or what?
Lighting is another major decision. Tiny wee items need to be illuminated properly but long experience has shown that simply clamping two spotlights at either side of the stand is not the answer. Firstly the lights get very hot.......they are on for up to 8 hours. Secondly, if they are not angled absolutely perfectly they tend to dazzle either me, or my customers, so I'm forever having to switch them on and off.
Then there's the problem of where to put all the paraphernalia....... notebook, cashbox, receipt book, calculator, bubble wrap, sellotape, paper bags, boxes, leaflets etc etc etc. Not to mention all the requirements for spending a full day behind the stand........flask of tea/coffee, cold drinks, lunch, snacks, hand wipes, tissues, something to read during slow patches. Then there's the comfort angle........a cushion to sit on (the chairs are usually hard plastic and very uncomfortable), and a bit of something warm and cushioned to stand on (being on your feet on a cold, hard floor all day can be quite painful. Layers of clothing.....large exhibition halls are either blistering hot and airless or freezing cold with kamekazi draughts.
So all in all, the forethought and preparations for doing a fair can rival the logistical planning for the D-Day landings.
However I have started my packing list. Or to be more precise my packing LISTS. There are rather a lot of them and worryingly, I keep adding to them. But Birmingham is way to far away to be able to pop home for something I've forgotten so I'm opting for a belt and braces approach to fair planning and packing.............