Monday, October 12, 2009

Repurposing: Letterpress Printer's Tray

Almost 2 months ago, Aaron and I went to the International Printing Museum's Printer's Fair. I know next to nothing about letter pressing, except that I like it. The fair provided a great opportunity to find lots of letterpress cards, posters and art from all sorts of artists selling their art at the fair. I am a sucker for stationary anyway, so this was kind of like a little paradise. I could have spent a fortune on cards.

Instead, I limited myself to a few and came home with this: a letterpress printer's tray.

I have been looking for something to display my small treasures in. I need a shelf or display case of some kind for the tiny Eiffel Tower we found at the flea market in Paris, for the little wooden doll I bought in Budapest when I was 17, for a favorite rock, coins from India, a pin that belonged to my grandfather and more odds and ends that would get lost sitting on a big shelf.
This was just the thing!

I love the handle at the top. It says Hamilton. I am not sure what that stands for. But I like that it is there. It gives the tray a story. It has history. Just like the things it will hold.

I also like that the trays is beat up and worn. It isn't perfect. It has character.


It seemed like it needed something.
Oh yes, color.
I couldn't just leave it boring, old brown. I needed to brighten it up a bit. I needed to add a little touch of Greta.

At first my plan was to paint it. But I didn't want it all painted. I just wanted to paint the inside of some of the boxes. I thought of pulling off the back and painting it all one color, or tracing and taping the squares, painting it and then reattaching it. But I worried that I might damage it when I tried to get the back off.
Trying to paint the inside of those tiny boxes without getting paint everywhere was too much for messy painter me. So there it sat.
On the floor, leaning against the wall, calling out to me each time I walked past, "do something. Paint me. Hang me. Use me."

Last night I finally got the inspiration I needed. PAPER.

Hello. All I need to do was cut paper to fit the squares, attach it and I was on my way. So I made my color choices and got to work.
It reminds me of Mondrian's squares.

I was going to use Mod Podge to affix the paper, but in the end, I chose double-stick tape. I didn't want to do anything permanent in case I decide to change the color scheme.

I was pretty please with the result.
Of course, it isn't hung on the wall yet, and my treasures are not on display. So, it isn't quite done. But I think I am going to be pretty happy with it when it is.

I was looking around the world wide web for other letterpress printer trays. Turns out I am not the only one repurposing these. Look here.

Lastly, if you get a chance, I highly recommend a visit to the International Printers Museum. It is located in Torrance and makes a great place to spend an afternoon. They have great classes and also special events for the whole family. I know my boys would thoroughly enjoy watching those printing presses at work. Their next big event is the Dickens Holiday Celebration. You can read about it here.

I am hoping my letterpress display case will be hung in the next few days. Check back for pictures.

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