Building a tramp art cupboard.
I made this painted tramp art cupboard a while back but have been wanting to show the process of how it was made. Like many things I make, this one changed several times before I came up with something that I was really happy with.
This whole thing started when I bought about 1000 reject drawers for router cabinets from my local Woodcraft store. I figured they would be a good starting point for lots of different projects that required small drawers. One idea was to make a small cupboard that would hold several small drawers. I wanted this cupboard to be plain on the outside, and a bold surprise on the inside. Dan Mack once said that you should not explain your piece to the viewer, but instead, let the piece open up and allow the viewer to discover the story for themselves. I wanted the story to be inside of this cupboard, waiting to be discovered.
My brother was remodeling and old country post office building that needed a new roof. The old roof had really cool pressed tin panels that were rusted nearly to the point of falling apart. I also had a stash of reject walnut lumber to use for the case.
Here you can see the cupboard being roughed in. I decided to use some birch plywood for the doors to keep them from warping. You can see that I am going to have to piece together the tin panels to cover the doors completely. Getting the old rusty tin to form neatly around the door panels was a bit challenging. The old paint kept flaking off where I did not want it to.
I added chip carved fronts to the drawers and matching chip carved panels on the insides of the drawers. I added only simple edge-carved side panels on the outside.
Here is what the primitive cupboard looked like with the doors attached and the tramp art carving completed.
Ok, here is where I ran into trouble. My plan was to have the inside be very bright and decided to go with an americana set of colors. I should add that I usually need to consult Shelley about colors to get something that looks good. I did not do this.... So here is where the paint job ended up for a while.
Now this is with my old camera, and the red did not look quite this bad, but it was close. It did not take long to realize that this cupboard was not finished. I let it stew for a few weeks to see what would happen.
This was about the point where I started adding metalworking tools to my little shop. I also found some patina solution in our supplies that put a copper patina over a base metal, in this case, tin. So I fiddled around with crinkled tin panels that followed the lines in the tin on the doors, and added the patina in several layers.
For the inside I went with a sort of new age-y green with metallic blue, gold and green speckles. It sort of ended up with a green night sky sort of feel that I was very happy with. By adding the door panels and repainting the inside I came up with a neat little cupboard that I am pretty happy with...for now. Here is the finished cupboard. It is about 14 inches tall and about 5" deep.
In retrospect, 1000 drawers was about 950 more than I really needed. I ended up giving them away by the case. The last 450 or so went to the local school art department. At least they did not end up in the landfill.