Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Made It: Repurposed Printer's Tray

Hello! I'm in the process of redoing our family room. Have already made a big change with switching the walls from dark red to a warm white. Decided to create some new wall hangings while I was at it. 

Years ago I'd purchased a vintage printer's tray (have also seen these referred to as printer's drawers). If you go to places where antiques are sold, you may have noticed them; they're shallow wooden trays with multiple dividers. Back in the days of printing with hand-set type, these trays were used to keep the various letters, numbers, etc. organized. 

I don't recall how much I paid for my printer's tray, nor where I bought it, but I used it for a few years to display the smaller pieces in my squirrel figurine collection. I was never really satisfied with how the display looked, however, so at some point I dismantled it. 

My printer's tray sat in our basement since then, just gathering dust. I almost got rid of it, but now I'm glad I didn't, for I decided to try to repurpose it as a collage-style display of vintage postcards. 

(I should add that before I began this collage, I gave the printer's tray a nice cleaning and polishing).

This was not a quick and easy project, even with the use of a paper cutter and Exacto knife. There are 89 sections in my tray, so it took awhile to cut up that many postcard images. And among those 89 sections are several different sizes. The smallest sections measure about 1"x2", while the largest are  around 2 1/4"x6 1/4".

For the smallest sections, there was the challenge of finding images that made sense when cut down to 1"x2". And since all the sections are higher than they are wide, for the larger ones I had to find postcards with a vertical orientation. These aren't nearly as common, but I had enough images of waterfalls, trees, monuments and skyscrapers to fill in those areas. 

My postcard collection ranges in age from the early 1900's to the early 1980's. You'd think the earliest postcards would be the most interesting ones to use, but they have more muted colors due to the printing process in use at the time. Consequently, I have a mixture of decades represented in my creation. 

Okay, enough chatter, now I'll show off my repurposed vintage printer's tray:

The finished piece, which measures about 32"w x 20"h

Several close ups of postcard images to follow:

The Empire State Building, the "Billy Penn" (aka William Penn) statue on top of Philadelphia's City Hall, and a resort in New Hampshire.

The Statue of Liberty.

Motel sign. Vintage motels are among my favorite postcard images.

The Mackinac Bridge (in northern Michigan, for those not from that state) and a small town's commercial district.

A scene from Coney Island, New York.

Another small town commercial district - Dowagiac, Michigan if I recall correctly.

The Jefferson Memorial and a Dutch village scene.

The Henry Ford Museum (Dearborn, Michigan), a California redwood, and the Washington Monument. 

I'm pleased with how this turned out, although I have to admit, I think the images would have been more effective if the sections were wider. It still makes for a fun display though. 

If you'd like your own printer's tray, they're available on eBay and other online sites, plus they show up at antique stores and flea markets. I think that new, somewhat similar versions can be purchased as well.

You may not care for vintage postcards, but search "repurposed printer's tray" on Pinterest and you'll see lots of other ideas for reuse - seashell collection, earring holder, scrapbook paper decor, photos and more. 

Not sure that in my Pinterest search I saw anyone using vintage postcards in their printer's tray - but now you have!