First off, I LOVE fiddling around with displays and making things look great. Your display says so much about your product. It will always look better with a quality display, whether you make it yourself or buy one. Last year I had to put out the bucks and purchase a display as I was starting to do bigger shows, and the table was just not cutting it anymore. After much thought and investigation I settled on Abstracta http://www.abstracta.com/. They are by far the most customizable display units, as a matter of fact I did 3 shows in 3 weeks last year and at each one I used a dramatically different setup just due to space constraints and types of shows. People are always drawn to my display and mention time after time that it looks so professional. I am sure that they transfer that feeling to my jewelry.
The women at Abstracta are amazing to deal with. They are always there to help any requests you might have, and can offer various solutions as to modifications to suit your situation.
One of the things that makes my display look great are my panels. I had a sheet of frosted black plexi cut at a local plastics dealer and it takes the look to "a whole nutha level" (fans of Mad TV????). This actually cost more than the Abstract Unit, but if you use regular plexi, sintra or fabric, costs are dramatically reduced.
For the one-of-a-kind application I had to provide a pic of what I would do with a tiny footprint. This unit can be built from my existing parts, with a very few and inexpensive new tubes necessary.
I can't say enough about Abstracta...but a warning. Unless you are good at putting stuff together, It's probably not for you. My head works this way...I can follow directions and read maps! You will read online that detractors of Abstracta say that it takes a long time to put up. My full unit above takes less than 30 minutes as I store it with "ladders" in tact and have a really logical way of putting it together. If you need help with yours, please feel free to e-mail me.
All of the gushing aside, the units do have some downfalls (no locking cases) etc, and in future posts I will address those issues.
p.s. For the upcoming Beach Studio Tour I have been given the dining room in my host's home, and must use her dining table. I will take bits and pieces of my display and modify to play onto the table so I have the proper height. I'll post pics when I have them.