check the box.

Aside from the occasional winter estate sale here and there, I got in my first real bit of garage saling this past weekend and I’m so excited that garage sale season is finally here!  OK, maybe not quite in a big way yet, but in dribs and drabs.

My picker Sue gave me a heads up on a sale taking place nearby last Friday while I was out plant shopping with my neighbor, nnK.  So we headed over there after purchasing our plants.

I didn’t find a ton of things, but I did come home with these items from that sale …

First up, I grabbed that vintage camera.  It was priced a little higher than I wanted it to be, but I purchased it anyway.  I didn’t realize it was brown rather than black until I got it home and was cleaning it up.

Boy, it’s really hard to see that it’s brown even in that photo.  You’ll just have to trust me.  It’s dark brown rather than true black.

I won’t be hanging onto this one, I will be taking it into the shop to sell.  My non-collection of cameras is mostly black.  Although I guess I do have one brown one, the Brownie Holiday camera is also dark brown.

I hang onto this one to use for staging photos around holiday time, although looking back it doesn’t seem as if I’ve ever remembered to do that.  Hmmmm, I need to work on that.

And speaking of photo props, I snagged the vintage, green handled garden clippers to use for that purpose as well.  They were 50¢, how do you pass that up?

I plan to keep an eye out for red and green vintage books this summer at garage sales.  I will hang onto them until Christmas and then sell them as sets.  They work great for elevating Christmas village pieces …

But also, well, the book called The Boy Scouts to the Rescue is just kind of fun.

Finally, I couldn’t resist the box because I thought the zinc lining was kind of cool.

I have no idea what the original purpose of this box would have been?  nnK suggested it was for storing one’s plutonium.

I’m pretty sure that’s not it.

Could it be a milk box like this example on chairish?  Priced at $275!  What?!  Anyway, it does seem feasible that this box could have been for milk.  It seems like the right size for bottles of milk.  Do any of you have a better idea what it might have been used for?

Well, regardless of the original purpose, there is some water damage at the bottom of the box.

So I decided to paint it.

I mixed up some Homestead House Milk Paint in Algonquin.  If that color sounds familiar to you, it might be because there is also a Fusion paint by the same name (Homestead House is the parent of Fusion).  I brushed two coats of Algonquin onto the box.  I specifically chose to use milk paint because I wanted a chippy look.  So once the paint was dry, I sanded lightly with 220 grit paper but there was no chipping.

No worries, I can fake it with tape.

I always start out with the yellow Frog tape when I’m using this technique.  This is the tape for delicate surfaces, so it has minimal sticky-ness.  I have run into pieces where the yellow tape won’t pull off any paint, and then I switch up to regular masking tape.  If that still doesn’t work, I’ve even been known to use duct tape … but those instances are few and far between.

All you have to do with the tape is press it onto your surface randomly and then whisk it back off again.  It’s a lot like using tape to remove cat hair from your favorite black trousers (I have a fair amount of experience with that too).  Just use caution and go slowly, especially with that first strip of tape.  It can surprise you and pull off more paint than you think it will.  Go slowly and get a feel for it as you go.

Next up I added a coat of Dixie Belle’s flat clear coat before adding some I.O.D. transfers.  If you have chippy paint, sometimes the paint will stick to your transfer (much like with the tape), rather than the transfer sticking to your surface.  In fact, even though I’d taken the precaution of adding the clear coat, I still had this happen in one little area …

I lost most of my ‘S’ and a little bit off the end of that flower bud above it.  I should have let my clear coat dry longer before applying the transfer, but I’m an instant gratification sort of gal.  I can’t make myself wait the recommended 24 hours before adding a transfer.

So, to be on the safe side, let your clear coat dry overnight if you’re going to be adding transfers.  Or, if you’re willing to live on the edge, do as I do and wing it.

Just be prepared to live with the consequences.

And P.S., I used sections from both I.O.D.’s Label Ephemera and their Floral Anthology transfers on my box.

This box is for sale if any of you locals are interested (you can store your plutonium in it!).  Check out my ‘available for local sale‘ page for more details.  I’ll likely take it into the shop in the next week or two.

We had stopped off at one more sale before heading back home that day, and that’s where I found another wooden box.

This box came filled with everything needed to shine your shoes.  There were something like 10 brushes for various colors of shoe polish, multiple tins of dried up shoe polish, and lots of well used polishing rags.  I tossed all of that.

When I initially grabbed this box I definitely planned to paint it.

But when I looked at it more closely, I thought the markings on the sides of the box were pretty cool.

And I really liked the back of the box too.

So I’m kind of loathe to cover all of that up.

But I don’t love the front of the box, and the top lid is in pretty rough shape.

As is the inside …

So here are some options I thought of …

□ option no 1 – I could paint the interior of the box, and the lid, but just clean up and wax or hemp oil the rest of the box.  But what color?  Black, green, dark grey?

□ option no 2 – I could do the painting in option no 1, and then also re-attach the lid facing the other way so that what was the back of the box becomes the front of the box (because I much prefer the graphics on the back of the box).

□ option no 3 I could remove the lid from the box entirely.  Paint the interior of the box black or grey, clean up and wax the exterior, but leave it unpainted.

□ option no 4 – I could paint the whole shebang, inside and out, and dress it up similar to the zinc lined box.

This is where you come in.  Which box would you check?  Option 1, 2, 3 or 4?  Or do you have an option 5 that I should consider?  Leave a comment and let me know.


42 thoughts on “check the box.

  1. Love everything you bought and the way you Quandified the box-could it be a humidor? If the Ushers box were mine, I would go with option 1 as people around here love their graphics and go with a black or deep grey for the lid to match the box’s lettering.


  2. I’m going to go for option number 2 but I am interested in what everyone else thinks. The top wooden box turned out wonderful!


  3. I love the painted box but on the second box I would definitely leave it “as is”, do absolutely nothing to it! Most of us love upcycled things but also love things that show their age, use and have character. That box has all that going on.


    1. Nothing? Hmmmm. Not sure I want to leave all the shoe polish marks alone. Maybe they look better in the photo than they do in person 😉


  4. #2 option and paint top black then distress. Other box is for milk bottle delivery. The box went on front porches. My dad delivered for Borden’s milk co. when he was young. He being the young new guy got the worst route. He would come by to collect the bill money and people would hide and not answer the door. He could see little ones in the windows. He felt sorry for the kids so he left the milk in the box without them paying. Then Borden’s would take it out of his pay. He was a great man.


    1. Oh, that was so sweet of your dad. I can imagine him not wanting those kids to go without milk. I think you are right about it being a milk bottle delivery box. How cool.


  5. If it were me doing it, I would choose #2. Then I would do the inside in a slightly darker green on the inside and stripe the lid in green that matches the lettering going the from front to back with the stripe.


  6. No matter what you do, I’m sure it will be wonderful! But my choice would be option 2 with a green lid.


  7. Great boxes!
    I would go with option #2 with a grey interior.
    However, can you possibly salvage the lid interior too? The text there fits in with that on the outside – then I would match the interior color to the color of the interior text.


  8. Option 2 … switch the lid. Love the boxes! And I actually remember milk boxes, but the ones we had were all aluminum and pretty utilitarian. Love that this one is wooden.


    1. Option 2 is in the lead! Wait, what? You can remember milk boxes, how old are you? LOL, just kidding, I know how old you are. Older than the hills 😉


  9. I love that floral stencil on the first box. For the second box, I vote for #2 with gray interior and black lid. Curious to see how it will look after you decide what to do to it.


    1. That’s actually a transfer (just to keep people from getting confused), not a stencil on the first box. Those florals are my favorite of any I’ve ever seen in a transfer 🙂


  10. The plutonium box turned out lovely. I vote for option #2 for the second box. I mean, you spend a lot of time and effort expertly creating similar looks on other objects so unless you have a very specific design scheme in mind for it, it would be a shame to cover up the authentic graphics. Oh, and squeeeeeeeeeeeee, floral frogs and seed packets above! 🤣😜


    1. That’s exactly what I was thinking, I do spend a lot of time and effort trying to recreate the look of vintage graphics. I does seem silly to cover up authentic ones when I come across them. And I threw in those frogs just for you 😉


  11. I would do #2 on the scotch box. It can always be painted later, but those are authentic graphics and once they’re gone they’re gone…


  12. So many choices, so little time… I’d go with #2. Honestly I’d never have thought of all those options if it were me. It would have been 2, paint or leave it😉 that’s it.


  13. I love painted furniture and always your projects, but my Antiquer’s heart cringed when you painted both of those boxes. Some bits of the past should be left original, and yes, it is an expensive milk bottle box, and anything with that great graphics from a time gone by would have loved to have landed in a collection of a collector.


    1. If I find antique items that are in good condition, I almost always pass on them for that very reason. They should be left alone, and I don’t have a resource for selling them on. But these two were in pretty poor shape. I find that antiques lose their value if they are badly damaged and the only way to sell them on is to give them a new lease on life.


  14. My parents had some hand clippers just like those. Remember using them to edge the walk up to the the front door. Love the boxes I was thinking maybe the first one was a humidor too.


    1. I remember using clippers like those as well. They never worked terribly well, but that was probably because ours were dull and we never took care of them properly!


  15. Great finds! I choose #2. I would use a graphite color. Instead of black. Whatever you do with it I know that it will be fabulous!! 😊


  16. what about painting just the inside of the box, and just sanding down the top (and maybe distressing it a little if it looks “too clean”?


    1. Brilliant minds think alike. I was just looking at the box and thinking ‘maybe I can sand that top down’. I’ll give it a shot and see how it looks, and if it doesn’t work I can always paint it after that.


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