How to make a hanging system for an exhibition

Useful for anyone exhibiting in a non-gallery location

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A few months ago I was asked by some friends who work in an Estate Agent in Spain if I would like to exhibit my collection of paintings in their office. Great. I love exhibiting in non-gallery spaces: it means non-gallery people get to see my work. Whilst they had lovely empty plain white walls in their office there was one caveat – I was not to make any holes in the walls at all. Not even to put up a hanging rail. After exploring lots of options (which included buying 16 easels or arranging my work on step-ladders) I decided it might be possible to clip a hanging system onto the metal frames that held the ceiling tiles in place.

I very quickly learned that the cost of buying an off-the-shelf hanging system was not only beyond my reach, but disproportionate to what it was actually made from. I set about making my own low budget version and though I would share the results with you here. A standard hanging system is based on a track (or hanging rail), cables and hooks.

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Without a track to attach the cable to, the first thing I needed to do was buy a clip that could hold the cables to the metal ceiling frames.

 

 

After trying out a few options, the best option I found was these in a local budget store (the Chinese Bazaar) for less than €2 a packet.
After trying out a few options, the best option I found was these in a local budget store (the Chinese Bazaar) for less than €2 a packet.
I then needed to find cable. Most professional hanging systems use transparent cord – which means it can be used on any colour wall. The walls were white, so it wasn’t a huge issue, but I did want to find something I could use again. I considered fishing wire, but it was too stretchy and thin. Eventual I found plastic strimmer cable at only €1.25 for 10 metres. It was the perfect strength, material and length (the walls were over three metres high)
I then needed to find cable. Most professional hanging systems use transparent cord – which means it can be used on any colour wall. The walls were white, so it wasn’t a huge issue, but I did want to find something I could use again. I considered fishing wire, but it was too stretchy and thin. Eventual I found plastic strimmer cable at only €1.25 for 10 metres. It was the perfect strength, material and length (the walls were over three metres high)
 Finally the tricky bit – I needed to find a way to make an adjustable hook for my paintings. After consulting my tech support (my husband) we came up with the idea of using electric cable block connectors. You can buy strips for a couple of euros.
Finally the tricky bit – I needed to find a way to make an adjustable hook for my paintings. After consulting my tech support (my husband) we came up with the idea of using electric cable block connectors. You can buy strips for a couple of euros.
You can cut each block off the strip
You cut each block off the strip

 

And you have a perfect mechanism for feeding the cable through and tightening or loosening it with the small screws
And you have a perfect mechanism for feeding the cable through and tightening or loosening it with the small screws. TIP: Check that the size of your cable fits through your cable block connectors (both the cable and the connectors come in various sizes)

 

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I also bought some cable ties for 75 cents and some “s” hooks (which were a waste of time, my tech support ended up fashioning some out of wire). I will explain what both these are for in a minute.

MAKING IT ALL HANG TOGETHER

First I stripped the red plastic from the clips.
First I stripped the red plastic from the clips.
And attached a cable tie to the end of the clip to the cable would not slip off. If you are able to use a hanging rail, you won’t need to do this.
And attached a cable tie to the end of the clip to the cable would not slip off. If you are able to use a hanging rail, you won’t need to do this.
I next made a loop with the strimmer cable, using the cable block connector to hook over the end of the clip.
I next made a loop with the strimmer cable, using the cable block connector to hook over the end of the clip.

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For the bottom of the cable – the bit that the paintings will hang on – I made a loop with a cable tie (for the “s” hook to hang off) and fed the cable through the cable block connector.
For the bottom of the cable – the bit that the paintings will hang on – I made a loop with a cable tie (for the “s” hook to hang off) and fed the cable through the cable block connector.

The lower cable block connector was not tightened fully, so it could slide up and down the cable to the required height.

NOW TO INSTALL THE EXHIBITION!

First the wall was cleared and the estate agents desks were moved! (By now they were getting worried).
First the wall was cleared
and the estate agents desks were moved! (By now they were getting worried).
and the estate agents desks were moved! (By now they were getting worried).
Then the cables were clipped to the metal frames holding the ceiling tiles
Then the cables were clipped to the metal frames holding the ceiling tiles. Note because the cable has been coiled it remains spring like, but once it is bearing the weight of even a light painting, it hangs straight.

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Climbing carefully down the ladder you can now attach the “s” hook to the back of your painting. Note: I use two cables for each painting as it helps set it straight easier (and used blue tack hidden behind the frame to secure corners in place)

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In the exhibition nobody even spotted the hanging system (perfect).

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I even hung some paintings from the same cables

 

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I was happy (if not a little tired!)
I was happy (if not a little tired!)
and the estate agents could carry on with their work whilst I prepared for the private view...
and the estate agents could carry on with their work whilst I prepared for the private view…

I hope you found this article useful.  Please leave a message if you did!

With thanks to Mar Menor Services for supporting my exhibition!

More details about my paintings for the exhibition here

logo mar menor services pink

 

 

 

 

 

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One thought on “How to make a hanging system for an exhibition

  1. You are a very clever lady Artist . Thanks for the info it is a great idea . I will keep it for future use . Hope you are all well . Love

    Ramzieh

    Sent from my iPad

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