Join the circus– C.1940’s upcycled cardboard luggage–part 1 of 3

Apologies, I forgot to take some ‘before photo’s’ . I picked this cardboard case up from an op-shop for $2. It was in it’s original shades of blue and brown, and beaten out of shape. It is cardboard with a lead lined lip on the lid to keep some form of shape. and lead surround studs on the base and side, it sports a Bakelite handle and locks without a key… My guess is that it is 1940’s – 50’s in age. I thought it was fab and took it home. I knew I was onto a winner the minute I saw it, and a week later that was confirmed when I saw another, in worse condition for $60 in a second-hand shop. What a lucky score.

After a lot of manipulation I got it back into shape as much as I could and proceeded to paint it. I got my husby to spray paint the black base coat whilst I whipped up a drawing for the front image.

I am going to split this ‘do up’ over three posts. First post will be prep and initial paint work, application of image and first two coats.

Second post will be finalising the paint work and image. The third post will deal with the interior.

Here are the pics’ after the base coat was applied


Picture Prep

I whipped up a couple of pictures to apply to the case. They are drawn on A4 size 80gsm paper – your regular paper. To apply them to the case I use a trick of the art trade and chalk up the back of the image, lay it flat on the piece and then retrace it. The chalk acts like carbon paper and leaves an imprint where your pen has been. Be careful not to lean to hard with your hand on the paper as that will leave chalks smudges as well. It takes practice but is a worthwhile trick to learn.


First layer down on the top. I touched up the side corners, handle and domes, whilst the top dried.


Applied second layer, the paint ran a little I will have to paint over the run once it is dried.

Colours of the photo are a bit weird – I think it’s because it is night time and my interior lights have a soft yellow hue.  The enamel colours that I have used so far are: jet black (soft sheen), bright red (high gloss), canary yellow (high gloss) and antique gold (high gloss). Now I have to wait for those layers to dry…..

003 - Copy

Next post – I will be applying the white for the lettering, deciding if drawing in the stylised clowns in the corners is a good thing. Finalising all of the paint work with secondary layers if required….. watch this space.


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