I remember my grandma coming to visit us carrying all her essentials…hair & makeup stuff in this very train case. She never would have left home without being prepared to fix her hair or makeup. And as the years went on, I’m pretty sure most of it was filled with different sorts of medication. But what I remember most about this train case, is that grandma always had little surprises for my brother and I hidden inside, so she could get to them easily as soon as we picked her up at the bus station. Even though she had to switch buses a couple times on her 14 hour journey, she refused to fly. Airplanes just weren’t her thing.
So when my mom gave the train case to me, a few years after grandma passed away, I knew I had to do something special with it. And when the Transatlantique paper collection arrived from Graphic 45 last year, I knew just what that “something” was.
Right when I saw Transatlantique, I knew the blues would match the train case perfectly. And the graphics on the paper drew me to it even more so than the colors. The travel scenes from the early 20th century couldn’t be more fitting for this train case. My grandma grew up in New Jersey, just outside Manhattan. Her father worked for the railroad. Grandma’s family traveled to the Jersey Shore each summer, spending time relaxing at the beach, while my great grandfather took the train to meet them every weekend. Grandma’s parent were from England and Germany. Her German grandmother traveled across the Atlantic by ship to visit her when, as a child, she was stricken with polio. Of course, Grandma survived and later went to school to become a hair stylist. After she married, her husband traveled the world in the Navy during World War II. An independent lady always, Grandma received a letter from her husband that his ship would be coming to port in San Diego, and she set out alone to travel across the country by train. I can’t imagine what determination and bravery it must have taken her to pack her things and get on that train, alone, not knowing where she would stay or what she would do once she arrived in faraway California. Thank goodness, she met a nice family on the train who took her into their home when they arrived in San Diego, for her husband’s ship would not come to port until much later. When the ship finally did come in, in San Francisco, not San Diego, Grandma had fallen in love with another man, who would later become my Grandpa. But that’s a story for another time….
As for the train case, it has also traveled many miles during its lifetime. I thought you might appreciate it and the papers I chose to cover it with, if you knew a little about the travels of my grandmother. So many of the scenes on the Transatlantique papers show trains and ships, while many of the locations mentioned, like New York and Atlantic City, were special to my grandma. I just wish there had been a graphic showing the Hotel Del Coronado in San Diego. But I’m so happy with how the project turned out, I’ll let it slide!
I’m sure you’re waiting for me to talk about the project, so enough of my grandma’s story. I started by choosing one of each of the papers in the Transatlantique collection, along with the matching die cut tag sheet. I used Modge Podge to attach the papers to the train case.
I started on the bottom of the case, by measuring the distance between the top and bottom trim pieces. I chose a paper with a larger pattern to cover this section, planning to use individual travel “stickers” placed randomly over the top of the paper later in my project. (Many of the papers in this collection show graphics for the travel stickers collected all over the world in times past, and stuck onto the suitcases, trunks and train cases of the travelers.) Once I had cut my paper to the correct height, I folded it around the case, being especially careful to press around the edges of the hardware. I used short tipped, very sharp scissors to cut around the creases the hardware made in my paper. Next, I painted the bottom of the case with Modge Podge and carefully laid my paper in its place. After the paper was laid down, I coated the surface with Modge Podge, using care to avoid getting the Modge Podge on the hardware.
For the strip around the lid, I cut a sheet of paper, covered with travel stamps, in vertical strips and applied it in the same way as I had for the bottom part of the case. Before cutting the strips, I measured the space between the trim pieces on the lid and found that I would not be able to place the stamps in that area laying vertically. I was disappointed, but decided to cut the sheet of stamps in columns and lay them down horizontally. In the end, I think it looks just fine.
Next I looked at the lid and decided to use individual travel “stickers,” cut out of another sheet of paper. I cut out all the “stickers” first, looking to see which ones might have had significance to my grandma. I set these aside. Then I chose large “stickers” to put down first. For the curves in the corners, I carefully pressed the paper pieces down, creating creases to use as cutting lines. I used Modge Podge to apply each layer of “stickers,” putting those I thought my grandma would have liked best on last. After applying all the “stickers,” I applied one more coat of Modge Podge.
For one last touch, I chose some of the tags from the die cut sheet and tied them onto the handle using garden twine and kitchen string. These two items seemed more old fashioned than ribbon. I could see Grandma grabbing them out of the drawer at the last minute before her trip and using them to attach a luggage tag.
I haven’t shared the inside of the case, because I haven’t decided what I should do with it. Right now, it’s a little worn and waiting for a special use. I think I’ll use the case for carrying some of my scrapbooking supplies. It only seems right to use it to carry things that are important to me, just the way Grandma always did.
I hope this project inspires you to create a special memory for yourself! Grab that Modge Podge and a stack of your favorite Graphic 45 papers and get to work! For more Graphic 45 inspiration, don't forget to check their blog!
Graphic 45 – Transatlantique double sided papers and tags
Garden Twine & Kitchen String