a good spanner in the works


Right, the basic elements are cut to shape for my Westfalia inspire rear overhead locker, it’s now time to bring them together and start looking at the final finishes for the unit. Plywood is a great construction material in that it can be finished in so many different ways; painted, veneered, varnished, stained, wood oiled etc. it really is a very versatile base construction material! I had been originally inspired by graphic artist, printmaker and designer Anthony Burrill’sI Like It. What Is It?letterpress poster. The poster utilises traditional letterpress print and woodblock type, and it helped me discover something called KintsugiThe Japanese Art of recognizing beauty in broken things. In this case the worn imperfections associated with the age worn, woodblock type used to produce the prints.

‘I like it. What is it?’ – traditional letterpress poster by Anthony Burrill

‘I like it. What is it?’ – traditional letterpress poster by Anthony Burrill

This in turn lead me into looking at the process of surface decoration called decoupage – the art of decorating an object by gluing colored paper cutouts onto a surface. I had the idea that I could use various old vintage or battered paper/card elements to create my own interior finish based on this process. The overall concept being loosely based on the Japanese aesthetic called Wabi-sabi which represents a Japanese world view centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection – better through imperfection! People often use ‘Mod Podge’ glue for the process, but in essence, it’s basically a watered down PVA glue, so I decided to make my own alternative version of the glue by experimenting with different mix quantities until I got the desired result I was after…

time to test my home made alternative ‘Mod Podge’ decoupage glue…

time to test my home-made alternative ‘Mod Podge’ decoupage glue…

It’s a bit of a messy old process, but after some experimentation and testing, I soon got the hang of it! 🙂 Top tip, an old plastic credit card makes a great little device for spreading around the glue and removing any excess air pockets from under the paper! I practiced the technique on some paper scraps on a plywood offcut (hinge template Nº 2 to be precise!) until I was happy with the end result. However it was quite daunting to unfold a large original vintage world map to try out the process for real, just on a much larger scale! The Westfalia inspired locker would be matt eggshell white inside, but I thought the underside of the shelf would be as good a place as any to start the interior finish experiment!

original vintage world map for the undershelf finish

original vintage world map for the under shelf finish

A bit clichéd possibly, but I’ve always loved maps ever since I was a kid in Cubs and Scouts, so thought it would be cool to lie in bed and have the map effectively on the ‘ceiling’ above to gaze upon – dreaming of road trips to come and future places to visit… 🙂 Whilst planning out the ‘dry run’ and thinking of how the map could work, I thought it would be a good time to pre assemble the front facia and door mechanism for the rear overhead ‘headbanger’ locker. That way I can check it all fits/works, plus get all the screw holes made and ready before the decoupage process begins!

original refreshed steel ‘dog bone’ hinges

original refreshed steel ‘dog bone’ hinges

I’ve refurbished some original 1960’s ‘dog bone’ steel hinges to use for the opening door mechanism. These were often used in Devon interiors (amongst others) as well as Canterbury Pitt conversions, so added a nice little link to my old camper. Plus they added a nice little touch of original aged authenticity to the unit. For the door handle, I thought I’d repurpose the vintage Triumph spanner which I think will make a cool automotive related (and an interesting talking point…) handle!

turning an original vintage Triumph spanner into a locker handle

turning an original vintage Triumph spanner into a locker handle

So I drilled out two blind holes in the back of the spanner to take the ends of a couple of coach bolts that would be bolted through the locker door. Well that was the theory…

The theory seems to be working out in practice, so now to push on with the decoupage surface design finishing…

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