03 October 2011

Junk Box = Post Box

One of the joys of this Summer's Wizarding Project was the creative challenge of making things on the cheap. Reuse, Repurpose, Recycle - we did it all!

Trolling rummage and garage sales; checking out Goodwill, Salvation Army, and resale shops; picking up some cool looking thing that some one had put out for trash pickup - yeah, we did it all.

And the neatest thing would happen -- something that our Main Making Crew often laughed about when we would get together -- how one's Imagination Eye totally shifted and could see how some cast off or piece of furniture or old dress or fabric or parts of something else could be transformed into some amazing prop or costume. (Brother Architect was a master at this! He actually "saw" an entire 7 foot set when he saw the 6 wooden pieces left over from a treadle sewing machine I'd dismantled some time back, some old glass bottle and lamp pieces, and a 1970's era end table.)

As the Main Maker of the event's Post Office set and activities, I wanted us to have an unusual, but some how typical letterbox for our wizardy students and faculty to send their snail mail on event day.  I looked at all the letterbox images I'd found for this blog to see where my Imagination's Eye might go.

I decided I wanted something made of wood but that's all I had at first.  So over the next few weeks I casually looked for some wooden thing that could be re-made into a letterbox.  

I happened to be at a Goodwill one day and there it was!  The box!  I couldn't have asked for anything better.

It was old and a bit beat up, made of plywood, and - best of all - had a hinged top with a metal clasp.  And it was priced under $10.  

It was a nice size, too, about 12 x 12 x 6 inches.

I wiped it down with a damp rag and scratched off the price sticker.  But that's all I did.  I wanted it to stay looking like something that had seen a lot of time and weather during its Owl Post service.

Here's the schematic I made up to show the event Maker Crew.

As with the Wizard's Typewriter, I traced the Owl Post logo I'd made onto its front.  But the paint job for this was a little more elaborate.  The typewriter cover logo was done in a single color.  For the postbox I did some layering.  Unfortunately, I forgot to take pics of the painting process, but here's what I did.

(1)  Measured the diameter of the Owl Post logo and drew a circle that same size on the center front of the box.

(2) I painted the circle a solid off-white color using some left over matte-finish, latex interior wall paint I had.  Let it dry for 24 hours. 

(3) Traced the Owl Post logo onto the wood using transfer paper (similar to old fashioned carbon paper, but with a non-wax tracing surface. I bought a pack of 9x13 inch sheets in 4 colors plus a sheet of graphite paper at my local artist's supply shop.)  This (below) is not the brand I bought, but it is the same thing. Dick Blick carries it in all the colors and graphite.


(3)  The logo was painted in using dark green acrylic paint.  I added a wide border as well.  I imagined that in an earlier time this postbox sat outside so the logo needed to be easy to see by passers-by.

(4)  I aged the entire image by marking it randomly with several shades of brown and black drawing pastels which I then smudged thoroughly with my fingers. 

The postbox before the mail slot had been cut in.

(5)  Finally, to make it look properly used, I created a few cut marks along the surface with an awl. Once it looked right to my eye, I sealed the image with a matte-surface acrylic spray.  Later, another crew member marked off and sawed out the mail slot.

I used the same cutting technique to age the logo on the Postmaster's Stamp Cabinet (below). 

The color-aging, in this instance, was created by judicious use of "Antique Gold Rub-N-Buff." The ridges of the wood created a nice effect.

Image from the Amazon product page.
(I bought it locally, though, at a hobby shop.)

The postbox (left) "in action" on the day of the event.

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