Illustrations by Don Carson. Copyright 2012 Red Barn Productions - may not be used or duplicated without permission.
ogether we are building the Great Dickens Christmas Fair. The concept of this much-loved event requires that we create a theatrical set that brings to life Charles Dickens' London, center of the English Empire during the reign of Queen Victoria. Although we are not able to re-create actual Victorian structures, we still may borrow their architectural features in building our booths.
As the booths constitute a major part of the scenery, our customers arrive to see your booth-building craft as well as to take in your wares, food, readings, or gaming activities. Your booth building reflects your product and enhances your sales. Your offerings are unique; your booth should reinforce that notion. As you study the sample drawings in this guide, think in terms of individualizing your selling space with Victorian-style details that reflect and highlight your wares.
Plan on building your booth in the form of a real walk-in shop, not just a street stall or a counter. All booths must have a roofline and, except for those of caterers, must allow people to walk inside.
Above is a sample of Dickens-era booths; pick from these, or invent your own. Most important is that you deliver the idea of a Victorian storefront, the opportunity for your customers to “window shop,” as well as an inviting entry into your inner shop “parlour.”
Rooflines can be made in two basic forms, low and three-dimensional, or high and two-dimensional. Three-dimensional roof façades may be supported by a series of triangular wood braces that rest on the front line of the booth and on a parallel beam which is 2'-3' back from the front line.
The façade should show features such as shingles, chimneys, and/or windows. More depth and variation are a visual bonus, but be cautious to avoid piling too much weight on an overhead structure. The high flat option for a roofline gives a great deal of sign space. This requires knowledge of basic theatrical flat construction. DO NOT build an actual second floor.
When designing your booth, try to avoid a flat front line. Add rounded or angled display windows, vary the depth, and use differing textures; mix wood with brick, stone, and/or mortar. Good quality brick or stone paneling is available in 4'X8' sections or in rolls. If you use paneling, be sure to finish or cover edges so that your piecework is not apparent. A three-dimensional quality makes your shop more interesting and entices shoppers.