This summer, I was commissioned to make a wedding present for a delightfully nerdy couple who do a lot of the same things my husband and I do: Play Dungeons & Dragons, throw Magic cards around, go to Renaissance Fairs, Settle Cattan. The people commissioning the present suggested that a D&D / gaming organizer might be fun, and I fell in love with the idea – so deeply in love that I literally spent weeks tromping around the city looking for a vintage piece to alter. Finally, I stumbled upon these two candidates:
Although I didn’t know it at the time, these are both “Union Utility Chests” manufactured in LeRoy, New York in the late 1940s / early 1950s.
After the client picked the one on the left (those drawers are big enough for character sheets and even a monster manual!), I was off and running!
First up, sanding! And cleaning! And more sanding! And clean more-ing!
To protect the metal from future incursions of rust, I primed and painted with rust-inhibiting enamel.
Two coats, in fact.
Then came the hard part. You can’t accomplish anything on top of enamel. It’s like trying to do ballet on a layer of banana peels delicately covering the ice. To restore safe conditions for arting, I had to gesso and paint over the enamel. That was a rough day, because it felt like two steps backward, five steps back.
But then stripes!
I love stripes!
In between coats on the cabinet, I was also painting mats to go inside the drawers and protect the enamel. Here’s my homage to a game called Agricola.
And the D&D GM manual
And my beloved Magic
Meanwhile, the top two drawers obviously needed some dividers to hold dice, figures, etc.
And the top needed a quote from Shakespeare about gaming, or – fine – a quote about hunting that can be (mis)construed for my purpose: “This way, my Lord, for this way lies the game.”
The top, distressed and done
With mats and dividers