I’ve always wanted a vintage typesetter’s tray. The trouble is, the ones I’ve seen for sale have been on the large side, and the walls in my house don’t have any large-sized spots left to fill.
So until I can persuade my husband to buy a bigger house or to build another wall in our current one, I am making do with a small (12″ x 17″) shadow box.
It’s not the vintage typesetter’s tray of my dreams, but it serves the purpose. And I kinda like it. I brought it home from a thrift store a couple years ago. Here’s what it looked like then:
I think I paid 50 cents for it. Which was probably 49 cents more than it was worth.
I wanted to display some of my old type blocks, which are all very dark, in the box, and I knew they would show up better against a light background, so I broke out the white paint.
The faux brass hardware on the corners I painted black and then layered a little silver Rub ‘n’ Buff over, in an attempt to make them look old and worn.
Then, because I can never leave well enough alone, I distressed the wood and backed a few of the squares with some whitewashed newspaper.
I put a few blocks of vintage type, an old camera lens and a miniature wooden shoe, among other treasures, inside my new box. The type blocks are from antique stores; the wooden shoe and the camera lens were thrift store finds.
The lens came in a leather case which is absolutely fabulous.
I wish it would have fit in one of the cubbies, but it was a little too big.
An old wooden-wheeled caster with a beautiful worn patina — one of a whole box full of mismatched casters and wheels that I found at a thrift store one day — is perched in the top corner. Below the caster are a couple of square nails that I appropriated from my dad’s toolbox when I was a kid. (And by “toolbox” I mean “various coffee cans, peanut butter tubs and old pails” that he used for storage.)
A beat-up silver trophy holds a collection of blocks. The trophy is plastic and came from a thrift store for a few cents. The blocks — which spell out H-E-A-R-T-S — are a family heirloom of sorts. The really old ones were part of a vintage game. When my mom was young, she added to the set by making a few extras herself. The old Z children’s block is another cheap thrift store find.
In the bottom section of the box, I have a couple of black dice, some numbers, a few old slides and a vintage bike license plate. The license plate came from eBay. Everything else is from thrift stores.
The 2015 is part of a set of letters and numbers that obviously went with a sign blank at one time. The letters were originally white, but I painted these black to contrast with the white shadowbox.
The rest of the letters are stored in a glass bottle.
I am fascinated by the old Kodachrome slides. This is one of my favorites: It features two guys in khaki clothes and (what might be) pith helmets sitting next to a camp fire. I imagine they were on safari in Africa when the photo was taken. Or maybe they were just sitting in their backyard roasting marshmallows.
In the bottom of the shadowbox, I have a C that was lime green plastic when I bought it. I spray painted it black, then covered it with some Spanish copper Rub ‘n’ Buff. It looks like it’s some kind of aged metal now (until you pick it up and realize it’s light as a feather).