The World's Largest Resource for the Cart, Kiosk, and Temporary Retail Industry

Summer 2010
Found Art Risers: A Step Above

Visual merchandising with props and custom secondary fixtures makes a big difference in the look of your RMU, kiosk or inline store. Creating something specific for the products you are selling ensures that the display will be unique, eye-catching, and will drive sales.

A general rule of thumb is to work with objects that are not normally used as fixtures, alter them so that they fit certain criteria, and incorporate this new “found art” fixture into the display. “Found art” fixtures require some artistic alterations in order for them to work effectively. Where do you find these objects thatcan be converted into interesting fixtures for your cart or kiosk? Try a variety of stores including Marshall’s, IKEA and Home Depot.

Risers rule

One of the many tenets of visual merchandising calls for a display that presents merchandise at different and adjustable heights. This display technique is called stair-stepping or pyramiding.

Pyramiding products organizes the merchandise so that the center of each side is higher than the periphery. The result is a visual focal point, which communicates to the passing consumer: “This is the best.” The cascade of merchandise down each side provides an attractive, symmetrical appearance and allows you to tell a story by adding product variations along the way. This technique utilizes different types of risers, staircase fixtures, boxes or pedestals to anchor and arrange items at different heights and positions.

Found Art Riser Materials

Learning how to create a riser will help you put together a cohesive and functional display. The first approach is to always think out of the box and look at ordinary products as potential raw materials.

Tins: Different types of tins/cans/small buckets can be used as risers. Cookie tins, paint cans, and soup cans also work. You can find a variety of tins and cans at Home Depot or a craft store like Michael’s. When choosing a tin remember to measure the products that will be placed on top.
Pick a variety of sizes and heights to insure the pyramiding effect you need to create in your display.

Covers: Once you have purchased your tins you can either find a pre-made disc for the top of your risers or have one cut from a rigid material: plywood sheets, melamine, or composite board works. Alternately a larger square tile can be used as the top surface.

Fabric: Creating a riser using fabric requires a bit more planning. For one thing, you need to pick the color you wish to use for your display. Choose a vibrant, eye-catching color that complements your products. Measure your tins and top surface disk to make sure you purchase enough material. Pick a material that can be cut easily without fraying and that is thick enough to not show glue stains.

Ribbon or Paint: You’ll need ribbon for the edge of your top disc or spray paint that matches your material color. You need to make sure the exposed edge has a finished appearance. The tops of your risers can be painted instead of using fabric, but if you choose to do so, sand the top surface and apply several coats of paint to achieve a smooth, flawless result. Both options are good, but the goal is to make sure the tops and edges have a professional appearance.

Tools: You will also need sharp scissors, a ruler, spray adhesive, and a glue gun with multiple clear sticks. If you wish to paint the top of the risers prior to placing the fabric, or to use a painted top; purchase sand paper, spray paint and a drop cloth. If you choose to paint the top disc edge, make sure you paint the tops first and allow time to dry prior to attaching the fabric.

Found Art Riser Steps

Measure and pre-cut all the fabric and ribbon. Cut the fabric clean and straight.

Spray the tin with adhesive and quickly wrap the fabric around the tin, making sure the ends align on the backside creating an even and finished seam. Spray adhesive can be messy so make sure you use a drop cloth or newspaper under the items you are spraying to prevent the glue from adhering to other surfaces.

Spray the top disc and apply the material to the disc.

Place hot glue around the top edge of the disc and quickly apply the ribbon.

Place hot glue on the top of the tin and quickly center and place the top disc in position.

Allow enough time for the glue to harden. In some cases you may need to flip the tin over and apply a second bead of glue around the perimeter of the tin to insure a tight bond.

Out-of-the-Box Riser

It helps to always think out of the box and look at ordinary products as potential raw materials for risers. The next thing to consider is to marry the material with the products that are being sold. For example, if you are showcasing jewelry, think about a material that denotes quality, such as marble.

Home Depot has a large range of marble, granite, glass and ceramic tiles in a variety of sizes. Use these tiles to create small to medium and even large size risers for jewelry, hard goods/gift lines and bottled products.

First, always measure the size of your products so you know how big the tiles need to be in order to place them on the riser. If you are displaying jewelry, measure the neck forms, earring stands, ring stands, etcetera, that are going to be placed on the risers. Always take the measurements with you to the store and carry a measuring tape.

Once you pick the tile, you need to figure out what will make the “legs” which will be placed on the bottom of the tile. Home Depot has a large selection of drawer pulls, handles, and finger pulls—these can be used as elegant “legs” for small risers. You can choose one or multiple styles depending on the height of each pull. Make sure that when the drawer pull will be sturdy and not wobble, even when it is turned upside down.

In addition, if you want to vary the height of the tiles more substantially you can use PVC pipe. You can buy precut pieces or buy a long thin pipe and cut the lengths yourself. In the lumber section of Home Depot you can also find wooden furniture legs that can be used raw, painted or stained to complete the risers.

Once you have these materials and a glue gun you can build your riser:


Make sure the tiles are clean and dust free.

Plug in and heat the glue gun.

Mark the underside of the tile for the location and placement of the legs.

Place enough glue on the end of the legs to create a strong bond and glue the legs to the tile.

Let the glue harden before turning the tiles right side up.

And here is yet another technique to create a riser using slightly different materials. The basic principles outlined are the same.

Sharon Loeff

Sharon Loeff, of the Scottsdale, AZ-based consulting firm, Shopworks, has been involved in the specialty leasing industry for more than thirty years. For more information, visit

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