Nolichucky West


A Repurposed Vintage Suitcase

The telegram reads,” Am starting on my way now and will be in Johnson City tonight. Go to bed early sleep well and I will visit you. Santa Claus.”

A telegram from Santa Claus! It is dated December 25th, 1930 and is addressed to Mother and her brothers. She must have been nine years old. I can only imagine the scene and their wide-eyed faces as the telegram was delivered and read. Communicating by telegram has long since been replaced by speedier means so this little holiday treasure from the past is one I hold dear and have wanted it displayed. This year I removed it from a scrapbook to a frame and propped it inside a vintage travel case with pinecones and greens.

I’ve been a collector of vintage suitcases like the one that holds Mother’s telegram from Santa. I use them throughout the house for storage and displays. I recently found a couple that needed repairs and set about to recover them with pages from vintage books.


This is my favorite so far. I created it for my first visit to the beach with the grandchildren.


The neighbors little Schnauzer had chewed a hole in the corner of this old brown suitcase. I just patched the hole.


The inside is packed with all manner of craft supplies; paper, paint, glue, wire, markers, and so on. It has become a travel favorite and I cart it along whenever I anticipate there may be an opportunity spend a few minutes creating. It does not matter that there is a dent in the corner any more.

The tutorial at My Junk Obsession was the biggest help in making my traveling craft suitcase. At the end of the post are photos of her finished work, all are so charming.


Here is my next project. This has been in the garage for a while, desperately in need of refurbishing.

I must honestly say this decoupage project was difficult, I’m not sure why, but I even took off some of my newly applied pages and started over, there were just too many wrinkles. I looked up decoupage techniques at Mod Podge Rocks Blog to help me the second time around.


I started by scraping and sanding off old paint and another failed decoupage project, then selected a book that needed to be repurposed.


The First Reader was written in 1910, but had a lot of damage to the spine, torn pages, and scribble marks throughout.


The illustrations were delightful, and there were classic Mother Goose rhymes as well. Here is a page with failing scotch tape, and an illustration I will will salvage.


This illustration of  ” A Frisky lamb” will be placed in a spot that is highly visible.


I began careful cutting and sorting. I made a stack of illustrations, one of poems, and a stack of plain text. This book paper from 1910 was very brittle and tore easily.


The title page and the preface were interesting so they are going to be on the bottom of the case. As a “progressive educator” it was fascinating how much I had in common with the “progressive educators” from 1910.


I started with the squares of plain text and covered up the entire case, painting it with Mod Podge and smoothing down the paper,  just trying to cover up the old paint and other flaws.


This is about where I began worrying about the wrinkles. I took a step back, allowed the first layer to dry, looked up decoupage techniques at Mod Podge Rocks. Later I took off some of the wrinkliest pieces and tried again.


Things were looking better, at least my attitude was. I trimmed around the edges.


All of the pictures were spread out and organized by which ones should be the most visible.


This time I tried spritzing the paper with water before setting it on the Mod Podge.


Now it’s covered with some of my favorite illustrations in prominent places.


The inside of the covers had this charming illustration. My Sizzix Big Shot is strong enough to cut the cover into a tag shape.


By using both the front and back covers there was enough material for two big tags and two little tags.


The tags were tied on with vintage hem tape and some black and white gingham ribbon.


The tag with the little brown birds is on the front. I am not sure what to put in this case yet, but it will move from the garage to a spot on a shelf in my work room.


In retrospect preserving the title page and other relevant facts about the First Reader was a good idea worth repeating the next time I repurpose a similar book.


There are still wrinkles, but if I enjoy it as much as my traveling craft suitcase it will not matter.

One of the best loved holiday desserts at our house is Martha Stewart’s Gingerbread Trifle. I usually leave out the cognac, and add extra whipped cream. I can make the gingerbread ahead of time and freeze it. I’m going to go make that gingerbread right now. I can’t wait for the house to fill up with that lovely holiday smell and since the gingerbread is for the trifle I can go ahead and slice off a piece to have with coffee this afternoon. Sounds wonderful.

Thanks for listening. Take care.








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