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Advice? - Travel friendly con supplies storage - The art of Thornwolf — LiveJournal
Advice? - Travel friendly con supplies storage
I'm contemplating attending my first out-of-state convention, that is, one I'd actually have to take a plane to. I don't want to say which one because its all still very tentative.

I've always gone to conventions I can drive to, so hauling my supplies hasn't been an issue. I currently have an open top roll around box with a telescoping handle that I got from Staples for $20, but for these purposes I'm going to need something a little more airline friendly.

What do you artists use to easily bring your convention supplies to your various destinations? I know I definitely want something with wheels (even if it doesn't have it built in, a method in which to give it wheels such as a foldable luggage dolly). It needs to be TSA friendly, it will be checked luggage but I don't want to get all the way to the airport to have them say "no this will cost $50 to send out" or "no this is unacceptable".

I've heard there are such things as TSA locks, that is, a way to keep it closed/locked that only the TSA has a skeleton key to open it with.

My convention supplies include the following:
-A plastic drawer tower filled with markers (should I bag these up for TSA? One time they popped all the caps off and destroyed half of them)
-Print rack
-Metal money box
-Small paper cutter
-Print binder
-Print folder
-Boxes of card decks
-Metal pendant/jewelry tree (I forgot to add this originally) This bit will be the bigger pain in the ass, I'm wondering if I should even bring it or if I should just display my pendants flat on the table for ease?

So nothing too scary, but I can never tell with the TSA. I had a brand new Zippo that wasn't even out of the box yet/never been used AND it was in my CHECKED luggage and they confiscated that, so I don't really know what's what anymore.


Thank you so much :)
27 comments or Leave a comment
arikla From: arikla Date: July 29th, 2010 11:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ok, so I'll admit this is based on my one flight experience, but here is what I did:
I had a rolling suitcase that I filled with con stuff and then packed my clothes in a carry on duffel bag (admitably, I pack light). They did manage to massacre the zipper pulls on my suitcase, but the stuff inside arrived ok. I did not put any locks on at all.

I would recommend bagging the markers and taking them in the carry on as well as the money box *IF* it has money in it... if you just plan to send it empty, suitcase would be fine. They did search my bad and make me open the money box (I have the same thing) but they were find with it once it was open.

Paper things (print folder, print binder, and boxes of cards) would probably go fine in the suitcase as long as they were flat and either on the bottom or padded in the middle. I did use some clothes to provide padding for the con stuff in my suitcase... mostly cocks and underwear :) However, if you fear damage to the prints, keep them with you as carry-on.

Definitely check luggage/suitcase the scissors and paper cutter. Better safe that way. Tape would be fine in a suitcase... at least mine was.

Print rack depends on the type... does it fold down flat at all? if not, may want to consider a different type that does or make one. I made mine out of PVC pipe that disconnects and folds flat then put it in the suitcase. Painted or covered with a ribbon it looks fine :)

Generally everything that is replaceable or at least bendable can go in the suitcase. Don't put anything you can't replace when you get to your destination in the checked luggage... unless it is sharp, then it has to go there :P keep non-replaceable things (prints, markers/pencils, original art) with you as much as possible as carry-on luggage.

Also, there is the shipping option. i happened to have a friend in the city of the con so I was able to ship my box of matted prints and originals to him and he brought it to the con for me. A little more risky is having it shipped to the hotel, but find out what the hotel's policy is for shipping like that.
thornwolf From: thornwolf Date: July 29th, 2010 11:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
...mostly cocks and underwear :)

LOL I know it was a typo but that made me snort so hard, sorry XD

I thought about the carry on luggage aspect but I like to have my supplies box with me at the table. I've done it with the roller luggage at the table before but its so "long" and bulky its hard to keep it out of the way. I might be able to figure it out, not sure.

The print rack is metal/wire from Staples. I'm wondering if I can figure out another method though as that's the bulkiest thing I have.

I also completely forgot my metal pendant tree I use >_< That's part of the reason I'm thinking a hard box of sorts might be best.

The money box I can leave unlocked and I never leave money in it, so that should be fine.

I will try to take as much "delicate" stuff on carry on as I can, likely my pendants. The backpack skorzy gave me was purchased specifically to fit the carry boxes I keep them in anyways, so that might work out.

Thank you for your insight!
arikla From: arikla Date: July 29th, 2010 11:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
OMG! I missed that... obviously *sigh* must be a Freud week :P *snicker* that is is funny... they would make good padding, though, I suppose. And I can't edit it now... Oh dear lord... internet ignominy typo forever... *snicker*

If you do a hard rolling box, get a couple straps for it. I asked my Mom about some things when I flew to Rainfurrence and she discouraged the hard tupperware box idea. Apparently, TSA handles things so roughly they are prone to breaking and "leaking" everything out of them.

Making the print rack system I have was actually really easy and simple, I can take some photos if you are interested. Since they are self-made, they can be made to any shape or size and modified as needed. It fold down to practically nothing but some 3/4" PVC tubing.
thornwolf From: thornwolf Date: July 29th, 2010 11:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hee hee XD Well it is a furry con, the padding would be all too appropriate! *nods*

And yes please, I'd love to see your rack! *Freud strikes again*
arikla From: arikla Date: July 29th, 2010 11:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
Whoo hoo! Ok, I'll take some photos... *wiggles eyebrows*
arikla From: arikla Date: July 30th, 2010 12:29 am (UTC) (Link)

Arikla's (Art) Rack

So here is a photo set of how I made what I use and how it works. It is really easy to modify as needed with other PVC parts. The example here is for my smaller 8 x 10 prints, I have a larger rack made exactly the same way, just the crossbar in the front is 12 inches instead of six for my 11 x 14 prints.

Step 1: http://www.arikla.com/rack1.jpg
Three basic pieces. The front piece made of three pieces of 3/4" PVC cut into 6 inch pieces and two PVC Elbow Joints. I used PVC glue to make the pieces stick together so I reduce the number of "moving" parts, but keep it all together. The other two pieces are made to two elbow joints, 2 - 12" pieces of PVC and a PVC cap to smooth out the end. PVC pipe can be cut to whatever size you want, and T-connectors can be used to add in dividers if you like them (though would make the later ribbon-cover difficult).

Step 2: http://www.arikla.com/rack2.jpg
Assembled, so you can see how it goes together. It is important to glue the bottom elbows ONLY to the bottom pvc piece, otherwise you can't take it apart and if you glued to the front piece, but not the bottom the back pieces would fall flat when assembled.

Step 3: http://www.arikla.com/rack3.jpg
You could paint the PVC as well, I decided to use 2 1/2 " ribbon sewn into a "tube" so I would have a little more decoration and be able to clip or pin things to the front of the racks as needed (like finished badges or example pieces). There IS such a thing out there as "tube ribbon" however it likes to only come in transparent colors so doesn't hide the PvC very well. Sewing the ribbon was the most time-consuming part, but it was just a LONG strait line. I used twice as much ribbon as the length of the tubing all around so I would be able to bunch it up nicely (66 inches of tubing so about 130 inches of ribbon... time 2 to fold in half and sew together = =260 inches of ribbon total for this rack). I used the gold ribbon just because my tablecloth/sign/bedsheet is blue so it was a nice contrast.

Step 4: http://www.arikla.com/rack4.jpg
Just showing how the ribbon is threaded over the PVC tubing.

Step 5: http://www.arikla.com/rack5.jpg
All covered with Ribbon.

Step 6: http://www.arikla.com/rack6.jpg
the "open" end of the ribbon I then fold over and safety pin to hide the edge, though for the larger rack the prints hide the ends... I over-sized the back of this small rack so the ends show over the prints... oops. I hide this by placing a larger print in the back :)

Step 7: http://www.arikla.com/rack7.jpg
For travel, then, I take it apart as seen in step 1, but leave the ribbon on. It holds the pieces together so assembly is just a matter of fitting the PVC back together. Also, the side pieces swivel so you can make it as wide or narrow as you need to.

I have not yet had this system tip over as the weight of the prints seems to hold it fairly steady.
thornwolf From: thornwolf Date: July 30th, 2010 12:36 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Arikla's (Art) Rack

Oh wow that actually seems to work out pretty well. Thanks for the step-by-step! If I can't find something that folds I'll look into a DIY now that I know how easy/customizable it is :D
arikla From: arikla Date: July 30th, 2010 12:50 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Arikla's (Art) Rack

So far, so good, I've used it for more local cons as well and it fits so nicely in my usual tupperware "con-box" I can bring more stuff :P Fairly durable... all parts are replaceable as needed... can even change the color if I want to. I had this idea because I was using the metal staples rack as well at first and couldn't fit it to fly.

Necessity mother of invention and all that :)
skorzy From: skorzy Date: July 30th, 2010 08:06 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Arikla's (Art) Rack

That's a really good idea. Thanks for sharing that. I might make it a garage project for Niko.
martes From: martes Date: July 29th, 2010 11:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ditch the markers and take watercolors or colored pencils. Much, much more portable.

No papercutter. You can use scissors or borrow someone's if you really need one.

No metal money box. Too heavy/bulky with a "please steal me!!" sign on it.

If you're taking a print binder, you won't need the rack.

ALL my con art supplies I can fit into two small plastic boxes that can easily fit into my suitcase. I carry all my prints in two binders, also easy to fit in the suitcase. Prints usually don't sell that well and there's no need to bulk yourself down with a ton of them.

I've been doing this for a long time and have art supply portability down to a science. And remember, anything you can't bring, you can borrow from someone who's local and can afford to bring the bulkier stuff.
thornwolf From: thornwolf Date: July 29th, 2010 11:33 pm (UTC) (Link)
Glad I asked then, I know a lot of you more experienced convention goers have a system. The print rack is for my matted prints that I do keep with me and they do actually sell pretty well so I'd like to still take them with me but I'm thinking of fashioning a different method for displaying them as the rack doesn't fold.

Markers are my main way of coloring, but I think if I ziploc them they'll be fine. I'd take them as carry on but I'm not sure if an excess of markers is okay (they can be used to smuggle gasoline or god knows what else, oh no!) The reason they didn't do so well previously is because I had them all taped together in bundles so they got mashed around when the TSA hamfisted all my belongings.

I'll be sure to cut everything I need to prior, so I won't bring the paper cutter. I've done things without it before, and have rarely needed to use it, so that is definitely good advice there.
martes From: martes Date: July 30th, 2010 12:36 am (UTC) (Link)
In the early days I used to take markers, but they were too bulky and took up too much room, both at the table and in the suitcase. I switched to a box of colored pencils, and eventually settled on watercolors, which are infinitely more portable and take up less space than a book. They also can take a lot of abuse, people are unlikely to steal them, and you don't have to worry about them drying out.

tl:dr-- you might try switching your media if you're going to be doing a lot of out-of-state cons.
thornwolf From: thornwolf Date: July 30th, 2010 12:40 am (UTC) (Link)
I did watercolors at cons before and I just don't like them as much. I guess I need to figure out a system though. I did watercolor badges at EuroFurence and I really didn't like it, but I'm a bit more experienced now. We'll see.
skorzy From: skorzy Date: July 29th, 2010 11:30 pm (UTC) (Link)
Part of me thinks that perhaps it would be cost effective to get you a inexpensive 22" "rolling" luggage piece for this purpose. If you don't have anything very fragile inside, it should hold your prints and marker supplies quite handily. Pack the "sharp" things inside the money box to keep them from puncturing anything. The problem might be the plastic marker tower

You can also make a liability claim against TSA for checked baggage in the case of your markers. They are liable if they don't re-assemble your property with "reasonable care". Leaving caps off the markers is not reasonable.

Wal Mart, Target etc. would be the best place to shop.

TSA locks are everywhere. You can identify them by the logo.
thornwolf From: thornwolf Date: July 29th, 2010 11:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
The pendant tree I forgot to mention (I'll edit to add). That's my bigger concern. I'm wondering if I should even bring it or if I should just display things flat for this purpose? I see the tree being a pain in the ass.

I have a soft luggage I can use but the fact that its soft doesn't make me feel very confident. Not that there's anything fragile, but I feel more secure with a box like item.
arikla From: arikla Date: July 29th, 2010 11:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hmm... might be able to make an assembled pendant tree with a 1" dowel and a few screw-in hooks. Then you could just un-screw the hooks for transport and assemble on-site.
thornwolf From: thornwolf Date: July 29th, 2010 11:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm debating on getting a display box for them instead in the long run and just using the tree for at-home necklaces. I wonder if now is the time to do this...*goes to look around*
mpd_84 From: mpd_84 Date: July 30th, 2010 01:42 am (UTC) (Link)
what about a piece of cardboard with groves cut in the top for the cords?you can prop it up on something or make a little thing for the back...
keovi From: keovi Date: July 30th, 2010 12:51 am (UTC) (Link)
I admit, I haven't read the other comments here. That said..

For markers, I either bring them in my carry-on, or seal them airtight (I actually do this in both cases, but PARTICULARLY check-on. I use one of those machines intended for vacuum sealing food; I skip the vacuum (learned the hardway by breaking my case) and just do the heat seal.

Tape can go above or below.

Scissors should be fine for check-on. I typically use a shitty pair so that I don't mind if they get lost, and this also has the distinction of being grade school type scissors, which aren't very threatening. Never had those or an XActo confiscated, rotary cutter, etc, either.

Print rack can go below, just be careful it can't be easily crushed and bent. I usually by my table sign stand (the plastic kind) when I arrive at the con, since those almost always break.

I *always* carry my money box with me up in the cabin. I'm not about to leave a key to a box containing a pretty some of money for the TSA to rifle through. Just have your key with you, and you're a-okay.

Binders can go in either place, but again, if below, make sure they're reinforced so they can't get bent.

Same for card decks.

Same for the tree.

No reason not to avoid taking Zippos or anything than makes fire, unless it's a gift. In that case, I'd just mail it if you're hell bent on getting it to the con. They really shouldn't confiscate them (my matches always do okay), but you never know with the TSA.

I would highly urge you to carry-on *any* items/devices that you're allowed to. I like to keep an eye on my belongings, particularly the valuable and delicate ones. This usually means I have my laptop/iPod/etc in my backpack, and a small rolling suitcase with the chosen items. Works great! And I don't go the douche route and pick a suitcase that's way too big for overhead, like many people do.

Hope that helps! I fly frequently with art supplies and con supplies, so feel free to ask any questions you'd like.
thornwolf From: thornwolf Date: July 30th, 2010 06:37 am (UTC) (Link)
Yeah I was stupid and had the lighter with me, it was a gift, but I don't typically bring a lighter for any reason (I don't smoke, heh XD) so fortunately I don't think I have to worry about that. My main concern is the markers. A couple people who responded to my question mentioned that the TSA threw away their markers right in front of them. Needless to say that was enough to terrify me that I wrote the TSA with marker brand names (I wonder if the copics matter because they're refillable?) to hopefully get some answers, but I'm thinking of doing carry on the whole way if I can help it.
hbruton From: hbruton Date: July 30th, 2010 01:04 am (UTC) (Link)
Since I deal with the border I ship just about everything. This does add to the costs but I don't really have a choice. Usually I ship one box with art and one box with print bin, binders, bookmarks adn card decks. I usually carry my art supplies with me or in my checked baggage, especially important when it comes to my marker refills. They have caused me much trouble in the past. My boxes are either shipped to the hotel or to a friends house.
thornwolf From: thornwolf Date: July 30th, 2010 06:35 am (UTC) (Link)
So you haven't had problems with them confiscating your markers or refills in carry on luggage?
hbruton From: hbruton Date: July 30th, 2010 01:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
\i mistakenly carried on my refills once and was caught. They sent me back to check them but my bag was already gone. thenice lady found me a box to put them in and I then checked them, thank heavens it was before the days of fees. Since they were pretty expensive I was glad to find some way to send them along.
champawat From: champawat Date: July 30th, 2010 06:32 am (UTC) (Link)
Heard nothing but amazing things about zuca pros. http://zuca.com/
thornwolf From: thornwolf Date: July 30th, 2010 06:35 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh heck yes! A little pricier than what I can do for now, but damn that is awesome.
From: onesteptwo Date: August 10th, 2010 01:33 am (UTC) (Link)
For displaying your jewelry, what about a cork board with some tacks in it for them to hang off? Then put it up on a small easel?
thornwolf From: thornwolf Date: August 10th, 2010 01:43 am (UTC) (Link)
Yeah I'm thinking of something similar to that. or if anything a clear box that folks usually display pendants in. The tree was a really great purchase for looks and local cons, but its just not optimal for anything further than driving distance. It's heavy and pokey XP
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