Monday, July 1

The Art of Primitive Decor

I've had an idea in my head all week, ever since I saw an old wooden crate with a really neat label at our local antiques store.  I wanted to get the crate when I saw it, but was unsure what I'd do with it, because the crate itself was really unstable and wobbly.  But I loved the label on it, and hadn't been able to get it out of my mind since first seeing it.  Then I realized that it would fit great in the kitchen with my vintage seed packet wall hangings, and maybe I could take the crate apart and make a wall hanging out of the one end!  Now, it goes against every fiber of my being to destroy something that's old and has a lot of character, but the label was the only thing that made this crate stand out.  I told myself that without it, the crate was nothing more than some old, dry wood and rusty nails, and would have served no purpose.  Thus began my project.

I returned to the store, hoping that the crate was still there, two weeks later.  I quickly navigated the booths until I saw it--in the same place as before, on top of an old piece of furniture, too high for the line of sight of most people.  Happily, I got it down and marched back up to the checkout, purchased my crate, and went home, eager to start on this piece of art.
With my husband's help, we carefully took the crate apart.  It wasn't too hard to separate all of the pieces, and we did no damage to the panel I was going to display, so that made me quite happy.  It's not often that a plan comes together exactly as I had imagined it in my head.
After I had removed the stray nails, I gently wiped the wood down with a damp cloth to remove dust and cobwebs.  I did not go over the label because it's already deteriorating and I did not want to damage it further.
After the crate was apart, I found some old handwriting on the back of the wood:
Best I can tell, it says, "Bay City" and either Wis. or Wash.  I'm leaning more toward Wisconsin, due to its proximity to Indiana.

I attached two picture hanging hooks on the back and strung picture wire for hanging.
Then I took the piece outside and sprayed it down with several layers of acrylic sealer on the front, back and all four sides.  Over the label, I sprayed additional coats of the acrylic for added protection.  The acrylic sealer is made for use on wood and paper, and will not yellow over time.  I allowed the piece to dry in the garage for 24 hours, as per the instructions on the can of spray. 
The label was put on over an existing graphic that was applied directly to the wood.  I'm not sure what it is underneath, but the label on top is for canned peas from the Brookside Canning Company in Kokomo, Indiana, Grafton Johnson, Proprietor.  In doing a search for information on this company, I was only able to find an excerpt from the book A History of the Canning Industry by Arthur Ignatius Judge.  The information I found at the bottom of the page is as follows:

"In 1886 a canning factory was built at Kokomo, Ind., by the Charles Bros., under the name of the Brookside Canning Company, and was operated until 1901.  The plant was sold to Grafton Johnson, at Greenwood, Ind., who operated it until 1904."

Based on that info, I know that the label was placed on the crate sometime between 1901 and 1904.  It very possibly covers the original label of the Brookside Canning Company that dates between 1886-1901, but I'll never know because I don't plan to remove the label.
I just love this label art
The original label is exposed under the top label
I absolutely love this.  It really only took maybe an hour of work plus drying time for the acrylic.  But the vintage label just adds so much character to the room, and I'm so glad I was able to get this.  I think it looks great!  And the best part was that the whole project cost me under $15.  Score!

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