Thursday, July 14, 2011

Recyling an Old Letterpress Drawer

     If you're anything like me, you love vintage junk goodies, and love to find new purposes for them.  Case in point: I have always loved seeing letterpress trays at flea markets and antique stores, but what the heck do you do with one?  (Contrary to popular belief, I am not a hoarder of useless items.)
     A printer used to have to type set each letter in order to print newspapers and such.  They would lay out letters in a row, and after inking a plate, press paper against the letters to create an imprinted image. Hundreds and hundreds of letters would need to be stored, and they were neatly organized in drawers and put into large cabinets.  Since modern technology has made letterpress almost obsolete, you see these trays for sale from time to time.  But back to my original question.  What the heck could you use one for now?
     After spotting one for $8 at a flea market, I decided I would purchase now, and decide later.  Fast forward a year, and I have finally gotten around to making it something.  I decided to make it a showcase for old family photos, and hung it on the wall in my craft room. It is a work in progress, as I will probably be tweaking it here and there as I find little goodies small enough to fit in the compartments.

 Here is how my letterpress drawer started.  It was in pretty rough shape, and needed a serious cleaning with a toothbrush and some water. I then cut photos and slips of decorative paper to fill in certain sections.

Here is the tray from a distance, so you can get the gist of what it looks like on the wall.  Note the cool antique cup pull on the front (now bottom) of the drawer. This drawer is likely over 100 years old!

I added the word "Family" in the center of the tray to set the theme.  I cut out the letters using my Cricut machine (of course) and the "Stamped" cartridge.

This key was found in an old family desk, and no one has a clue what it went to.

This dapper gentleman is my great-grandfather.  Thank goodness I didn't inherit his ear genes.  Does he look Irish, or what?

The little holes I filled with teeny pictures, which are easier to find than you would imagine.  Most old pictures are pretty small.  Those that are not you can crop or edit them to fit.

Some of the empty spaces I filled with decorative paper including pages from hymnals and dictionaries. I also like the look of some of the spaces being empty.  This was a fun project, and a great way to showcase some tiny old photos that probably would not have been suitable for framing.

Don't forget about our giveaway!  Dragonfly papers is giving away a recycled Nancy Drew journal and your choice of note card sets from our shop.  Check out the details HERE.

15 comments:

  1. insanely jealous of this!!! So cute and such a good idea!!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks, ladies! You really can find these plenty of places, and it was easy to do!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I saw a smaller letterpress tray in a store recently. The spots were too small for pics but I thought of you :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Snap!! I just posted my version of a repurposed letterpress drawer on my blog. I have used the drawer for other purposes and Now I use for my wooden stamps.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Angela, your letterpress tray looks great! Thanks for stopping by!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Love it! You could add some family memorabilia- report cards, grocery lists, recipe cards!I was recently given one...hmm..inspiration! How did you hang it?

    ReplyDelete
  7. I nailed in two picture hangers on the back. Thanks for the great ideas!

    ReplyDelete
  8. This looks fabulous and I can't believe you only paid $8. I have 2 filled with miniatures and old photos. They are my prized possessions.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Wow - this is such a great idea. I've got a letterpress drawer, and have been wondering what to do with it. Now I know - thanks for the inspiration!

    ReplyDelete
  10. I grew up with one my mom had on a wall, full of little keepsakes and things she picked up on trips and such. I just bought three (yeah, I know...) but hadn't thought of the family photo idea. Definitely going to add this to my plan to fill them. :)

    ReplyDelete
  11. Glad you got a new idea, Laurie! I'd love to see a picture of it when you're done!

    ReplyDelete
  12. I bought 4 of these draws a few months ago. I wanted to do something with them and knew it would involve some of my old printers blocks but hadn't really thought beyond that. Your post has inspired me beacuse now I'm thinking about a whole 'print works' theme with some old printing tools I have, using vintgae pages etc. Thanks again.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Fiona, so glad you liked the post. Be sure to send photos of your finished project to wecandoitblog@yahoo.com! I'd love to see it!

    ReplyDelete
  14. How did you clean the old tray? I have purchased one and it needs some cleaning. Do you use soap and water, mineral spirits?

    Thanks for the help!

    ReplyDelete