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Practical Help in Exhibit Design

4. How Do I Do That?

Now that you've decided what you want to make your panels out of, what colors you are going to make them, and what font you will use for your text and your title, and you've drawn it all out on graph paper, you are ready to do some construction.

How do I cut fomecore or gatorboard?

You can cut really big pieces on a table saw if you know someone who has one and will cut it for you, but you can also cut it with a knife and a straightedge. Here's how.

This shows fomecore being cut, but gatorfome can be cut the same way--it's just harder to cut through it since it's stiffer. If you were cutting board for your big panels, I'd say don't worry about the bevel cut. We usually just use the bevel cut for illustrations or text that we are cutting out to attach to the panel or wall.

How do I light my exhibit?

Some extra light is probably a good idea. There are so many lights out there to choose from. You could use a picture frame light but those can be really expensive. A cheap clamp lamp from a discount store will work just as well. Clamp one to each panel, or maybe just one would work in the center panel. It depends on your exhibit.

How do I attach a piece of paper to fomecore or gatorfome or fomecore/gator to my panel?

There are several ways to do this. Some stick well, but can be expensive, some are cheaper, but don't work as well. Some are messy, some are not. Lots of choice! Here are some of the choices you have and what it looks like after you use some of them:

double sided tape - You can buy this at any discount chain, craft store, or office supply store. It often comes in a tape dispenser similar to scotch tape but can be bought in varying widths. Put a piece between your paper and the board, pull off the backing and it sticks. If you are mounting a cutout illustration, make sure you use enough of it around the edges to keep it from lifting up. This is good for sticking paper to fomecore or gator, but it's not quite strong enough to stick gator to gator. For that I'd use foam tape, glue or velcro.

foam tape - You can buy this in big rolls at art supply stores, but it's very expensive. You can buy little pre-cut pieces at discount stores, hardware stores or office supply stores and you won't have to invest as much money. This is more expensive than regular double sided tape, but it works much better for some things. This is also a double-face tape, but the tape itself is about 1/8" thick and made out of a soft foam. It is extremely sticky and strong, it can take plaster off walls. I wouldn't use this to tape a piece of paper to anything, the thickness of the tape will show through the paper and it will look crummy--look how the letters on the photo up above aren't flat. I'd use this mainly for attaching fomecore or gatorfome to your panel, not under paper.

spray adhesive - This works well for attaching paper to fomecore or gator, but you have to practice. Don't spray it too much in one spot or you will have a wet spot on your paper. Do this in a well-ventilated place (preferably outside)m, the fumes are nasty. I'd use this for attaching paper to a board. I've not used it for putting two pieces of board together, but I suspect you'd be better off with foam tape, glue, or velcro.

white glue - White glue would work for most things, but be careful when gluing paper! If you use too much, your paper will wrinkle and look bad. I think I'd use double sided tape before I used liquid glue, but that's just my preference. I also think it would work well to stick two pieces of gator together.

cold mount - It's quite expensive, at art supply stores you can buy something called Scotch PMA, (PMA stands for Positionable Mounting Adhesive). It comes in rolls and works kind of like a big roll of double sided tape. It takes some work, though, because you have to rub it down to make it stick to your paper and then rub it again once you take the backing off and have stuck it to your board. We use this quite a bit in our exhibits. It's not as messy as the spray adhesive. This is best for sticking paper to board, not board to board. Sometimes this will make your paper bubble if you don't press it down hard enough.

velcro - Sticky backed hook and loop tape, is great for attaching boards to your panel, because things are removable. This also works well for things that stick out from your panels--like the stacked fomecore pieces. I wouldn't use velcro for sticking paper to board. You'll have the same problem as with fometape--it will show and be bumpy.

Letters attached to fomecore

For any other questions - Drop us an e-mail if you have a specific question that we didn't address or if you have questions about what's here. We'd also like to hear from you if there's something else that worked well for your exhibit that we didn't include here.

1. How to Relate the Topic to the Design of the Exhibit
2. Interesting Exhibit Design
3. Fonts and Type Faces
4. How Do I Do That? (a virtual hands-on demonstration)
5. Sources


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Herbert Hoover Presidential Library-Museum
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West Branch, IA 52358 | 319-643-5301