D-I-Y ideas

1st March 1996 at 00:00
* Most classroom ceilings havesoft tiles. If you push in a drawingpin to hang a mobile or child'smodel, it will pull straight out. Use a dressmaking pin and push it in sideways. For heavier objects, lifttwo of the tiles slightly and pass the thread around the metalwork.

* Add some 3D effects to your displays. Bulge big pictures outwards. Mount some work on a shallow box hidden behind. Use a shallow wooden vegetable box mounted upright as a window for soft toys or models. Fold and staple small, stout cardboard boxes to make shelves on your display for books or artefacts. Use card tubes for almost anything from organ pipes to chimneys.

* If you are short of display space build one or more free-standing display towers - perhaps a metre and a half high and half a metre square - from stout cardboard boxes with corrugated card wrapped around. Fasten the boxes together with soft iron wire.

* If you really do not want to use a staple gun or if you cannot get your hands on one, mount your display with dressmaking pins. These look much better than drawing pins. You can also use this method if you want to experiment with layout before you staple everything.

* Use backing paper on your display board, but choose a colour that will not detract from the display. Black is often effective, or beige. Many displays suffer from being mounted to brightly coloured backgrounds. If the surfaces of your display boards are in good condition, you might emulsion paint them instead of using backing paper.

* If young children are to look at your display, remember that theireyes are much lower than yours,and plan with this in mind.

* If the display is extra special, take Polaroids and sit quietly and study them before you finalise everything. Faults of alignment and balance seem to show up better on a photograph.

Tools for the job

* Staple GunsThe staple gun, or tacker, is thebasic display tool. Buy the best you can afford, paint your name on itand chain it to your person. Make sure, particularly, that you always use the right staples - not just the rightsize, but the same make if at all possible, because the right size staples from a cheaper source are sometimes just different enough to jam the gun. A typical good classroom tacker is the Rapid 23, which will be on displayat the Education Show and is available from the Alternative Display Company at Pounds 25. 25. Shop around, though.The same tacker is in The Consortium's catalogue at Pounds 9.30. Another similar machine, theRapesco 23P, is in the current ESPO catalogue at Pounds 13.75.

* Staple removerThe only reason why anyone isever reluctant to use a staple gun is the problem of getting the staplesout when the display comes down. If you do not have the right tool, staple removal can be not only difficultbut dangerous. The small pincer-type staple removers costing under Pounds 1do not work well on staples which have been belted in by a good gun. The most effective tool has a small flat blade, a pivoting flat surface against which you apply leverage, and along handle. You slide the blade under the staple and it comes out like shelling peas. Again, you could pay over Pounds 6 for one of these. The ESPO catalogue has one at Pounds 1.86 andThe Consortium at Pounds 1.88.

* Glue gunsThese operate at various temperatures. The hottest ones are very effective, but you will jump if you get a drop of glue on your hand. Some lower temperature ones are safe for children to use. Choose the one for the job, use it carefully and buy the right glue for the right gun. With a glue gun you can attach thick card to brickwork orto glass and then put work on it with a staple gun. A Bostik Standard hotmelt gun costs Pounds 8.10 and a Magic Princess low temperature gun, suitable for primary school use, is Pounds 7.85, both from ESPO. Glue sticks are around Pounds 10 for a one kilogram box ofabout 250 sticks.

* RibbonThe Alternative Display Company's methods use lots of ribbon, and they sell it at attractive prices - Pounds 3.25 for 100 yards of two-inch satin ribbon, with a choice of about 30 colours. Their price list also shows a range of other ribbons, papers and tools.

* BordersAmong the good selection of papers and other materials in the Creative Educational Materials Catalogue of Bemiss-Jason International are a number of time-saving ready-made borders - scalloped, decorated, corrugated, and in various colours.

* Free or cheap materials.Cardboard boxes: Small ones can be cut and folded to make shelves on a display, or can form the basis of a 3D effect. Larger ones can be used to build free standing display pillars.Wooden boxes: The small boxes that vegetables are displayed in are usually made of wood thin enough to be stapled to a display.Tubes: Claim the card tubes that come in the mail; see a carpet warehouse about the long card tubes thatcarpets are rolled around.Newsprint: The local papermay let you have the fag end of a newsprint roll. It will still have many yards of usable white or football pink paper on it.Paper and card offcuts: Look in the business pages for the nearest paper and card maker, and ask about offcuts of good quality coloured card. Some firms will supply packs of offcuts cheaply on a cash and carry basis.

Display boards

* Classrooms rarely need expensive purpose-made display boards. Chipboard or thick compressed paper board bought from a timber yard and put up by the caretaker is very suitable. Beware of materials too hard for staples though - hardboard and pegboard, for example. The minimalist approach is just to put up parallel wooden battens, so sheets of thick card can be stapled or glue-gunned to them as necessary. For more formal purposes, in entrance halls and public corridors, smart, well-finished wall-mounted boards may be called for. A new two-tone board from Nobo with a speckled finish and an aluminium surround is very attractive. These start at Pounds 45.

* Free-standing boards with hessian surfaces are often appropriate for entrance halls and libraries. You really need to think what you need, though: lightweight, easy to move boards may be unstable if you hang books on them, for example, or if you ever contemplate using them in a draughty hall.An alternative to individual free-standing boards is a modular display system in which boards and flat table surfaces link together in various ways to create a whole display area. The Consortium's catalogue has a very wide range of display systems, including, for example, Marley Haley's Bigscreen. The Consortium's price for a Bigscreen Kit of three panels six feet by four, with poles, clamps and bases is just under Pounds 700.

* Alternative Display Company,91 Bristol Road. Edgbaston, Birmingham B5 7TU.Tel: 0121 440 2569. Stand B83 * Bemiss-Jason InternationalSaltwells Factory, Saltwells Road, Dudley DY2 0BY. Tel: 01384 569500. Stand E33 * The Consortium, Hammond Way, Trowbridge, Wiltshire BA14 8RR. Tel: 01225 777333. Stand H59 * Eastern Shires Purchasing Organisation (ESPO), Leicester Road, Glenfield, Leicester. LE3 8RT.Tel: 0116 265 7878 * Masonite CP, West Wing, Jason House, Kerry Hill, Horsforth, Leeds LS18 4JR. 0113 2587689. Stand J11 * Nobo Visual Aids, Alder Close, Compton Industrial Estate, Eastbourne, East Sussex BN23 6QB. Tel: 013233 6411521. Stand F41 * Rapid Staplers, 4 Lanchesters, 162-164 Fulham Palace Road, London W6 9ER Tel: 0171 603 1446. Stand F72

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