Repurposed Vintage Train Case


Look – my new “art supplies on the go” case!  I used to have my art supply basics in a huge Ziplock bag, and would put that bag inside a larger tote when I attended art classes or creative gatherings, but I definitely needed an upgrade.  Sure, my old bag was easy to transport and functional, but it lacked style and charm.  I began thinking of a vintage train case as a potential candidate for my upgrade, and found the perfect case the weekend before last while antiquing with friends.  Originally $22.00, it was on sale and my total was $18.96 with tax.  This was more than I’d wanted to pay, but when I checked eBay I found it was reasonably priced when compared to similar pieces and I saved on shipping by buying locally.


Though the case could easily be decoupaged, I’ve opted to keep the blue exterior plain, and just dressed up the handle.  I DID decoupage the inside though.  The interior’s bottom and sides looked a bit “undesirable”, so I used vintage ledger paper to cover over the makeup stains.  This ledger paper was a fab choice because of the vintage feel and the tiny blue lines running across the pages.  These lines tie in to the case’s blue exterior without being super matchy-matchy.  An added bonus of the decoupaged interior is that the inside surfaces are now sealed and protected.  That said, if I happen to spill ink or some other art supply inside who cares?  After all, it IS an art case!


Vintage Train Case interior – before.  The interior was intact but stained, and a vigorous cleaning didn’t help.


Vintage Train Case Interior – after.  So much better, don’t you think?


The front side of the tag…


The back side of the tag, which includes my business cards…

Curious about this case’s transformation process?  Here are the steps:

  1. Clean the case – inside and out.  I used 409, paper towels, and an old toothbrush to clean up the somewhat dingy case.  The old toothbrush worked really well in the nooks and crannies.
  2. Cut pieces of paper to line the case with.  I used vintage ledger paper, but you might use tissue paper, magazine pages, wrapping paper, or another thin decorative paper.
  3. Apply the paper to the interior using a decoupage medium like Mod Podge or water-soluble Minwax Polycrylic.  First, adhere the paper pieces to the case’s interior and let that dry completely. Next, apply two or three coats of sealer on top of your paper to protect the paper’s surface.  Be sure to allow each coat to dry completely before applying the next coat.
  4. Attach a custom luggage tag with your contact information on the handle.  This will make it easy to identify the piece as yours, and easier for the case to be returned to you should it become lost. I used a business card, watercolor paper, vintage ledger paper, glassine, a carved cork stamp, masking tape, and vintage buttons to make my custom tag.
  5. Enjoy!  I can hardly wait to take my new art supplies case on its first outing.  I won’t be taking the train on my trip, but I’ll be hitting the road on Sunday and am really looking forward to transporting my art supplies in style!

Please let me know if you have any questions, dear readers.  Oh, and please post a comment and share if you’ve converted an unconventional bag into something you carry on your artful outings.  I’d love to hear about it and am sure my other readers would, too!

Warm regards,

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  1. Posted March 1, 2012 at 6:47 am by Vanessa j | Permalink

    Simpley lovely!! You did. Great job!! I did one a few years ago, mine is wild and crazy.. But that’s me! Lol
    Your papers just fit the style so perfect! I tool mine to Mexico and it was nice to have supplies with me!! ( on my blog ) I always enjoy reading your posts!! Have a great awesome creative day!!

  2. Posted March 1, 2012 at 8:24 am by Melody | Permalink

    Thank you – so glad you like it! I’m glad you hear you found your case useful abroad. I’m sure this will work out well for my needs, too. 🙂
    I’m really glad you’re enjoying my blog, and thank you for reading and commenting!

  3. Posted March 1, 2012 at 8:46 am by Elizabeth | Permalink

    Oh my goodness, I love this so much I can hardly stand it!! I wonder if my grandma still uses her case that looks exactly like that one…. 🙂

    Great work!

  4. Posted March 1, 2012 at 8:46 am by Evette | Permalink

    Great job!
    There are quite a few train cases for sale on etsy, as well. Even though I have wanted to do something like you have done here, I haven’t been able to bring myself to pay the price for the case. They are overpriced, for sure. You were fortunate to have found one locally . From what I’ve seen, you got it at a very reasonable price. Happy crafting!

  5. Posted March 1, 2012 at 7:42 pm by Melody | Permalink

    Thank you so much! It’s always nice to have one of my “tweeps” leave a comment.
    I wonder about your Grandma’s case, too. Please keep me posted!

  6. Posted March 1, 2012 at 7:44 pm by Melody | Permalink

    Thank you for your kind words, and your comment! I know what you mean about the cost, but I finally went for it and am really pleased with the results. I know I’ll get a lot of use out of it, and it made for a fun blog post, too!

  7. Posted March 2, 2012 at 11:11 am by georgia lichon | Permalink

    Love how you handled the “case”. Sometimes in doing an outside all funky—it gets boring. Besides—-you CAN always do that!!! Like how you did the inside. I love giving old stuff new life—but my first inclination is to clean it up…you did it so classy. geo

  8. Posted March 2, 2012 at 6:21 pm by Melody | Permalink

    Thank you for the positive feedback! Yes, I can always add to it later on if I’m inspired. In the meantime, I like that it’s a bit more neutral, with just a little something going on with the handle and interior. Thank you for commenting!

  9. Posted March 5, 2012 at 10:00 am by Amanda | Permalink

    Love the choice for the really turned out beautiful! Love it!

  10. Posted March 5, 2012 at 12:29 pm by Melody | Permalink

    Thank you! I love how it turned out, and am glad to have found it while I was out with you and Alma. Such fun!