Monday, June 18, 2012

How to Build A Vintage Clothing Display for Craft and Trunk Shows

vintage garment rack - top view
With the upcoming craft show season, I needed a clothing display to showcase my new line of Indian-cotton summer wrap skirts. Just any garment rack wouldn't do for this gal. I had criteria: the display needed to be classy, compact, and easy to carry up and down the steps to my second floor apartment.

full length view view of lamp/rack
Disappointed by conventional garment racks (bulky chrome monstrosities), I decided to rummage through my apartment's basement. That's when I saw the antique lamp. It had wires sticking out and was covered in dust and splattered paint, but its solid metal and elegant constitution appeared strong enough not to blow over (a necessary attribute for any outdoor display). I wasn't sure how to make it work. But I know potential. When I asked my landlord, he told me his father used it as a stand to hold a clamp light when he painted. He gave it to me.

before photo of lamp
Upstairs in my apartment, I showed the lamp to a Very Cute Jewish Carpenter (VCJC). He unscrewed some parts and we discovered it  had holes on the arms that, with some drilling, a rod could be inserted through.  VCJC got his drill and got to work.

After a broken drill bit - and a few unforeseen but minor difficulties - the holes were enlarged to hold a 5/16" dowel rod. The addition of vintage door knobs drilled out and secured with epoxy added a finishing touch to the ends.

vintage wooden door knob attached to dowel

VCJC scrubbing with steel wool

With the help of VCJC - and baking soda and vinegar - we scrubbed the metal with steel wool, removing spatters of old paint and ages of crud. Slowly, slowly, our elbow grease cut through the layers to reveal a brilliant mottled brass.

intricate center piece of stand
A few days later when I set up at the craft fair, I sat back and watched with a feeling of satisfaction as people's eyes were drawn to the skirts displayed on the most awesome vintage clothing rack!

They cooed.
Touched them.
Asked questions.
Tried them on.
One guy insisted on purchasing my clothing display - twice.

Here are a few things you'll need to build your own vintage clothing rack:

the petaled feet gleaming after the scrub-down

  • Vintage lamp stand (metal)
  • Dowel rod (5/16" minimum)
  • Cobalt or Titanium drill bit
  • Epoxy 
  • Steel wool
  • Baking Soda and Vinegar
  • Very Cute Jewish Carpenter
Okay, so he doesn't need to be Jewish... but he should have a drill and know how to use it :)