|Columbia's Wells Fargo Building with|
Stage Depot to the Right
Older Image Courtesy www.malakoff.com
Earlier this year, Park staff began removing the original trunks to better storage, while curator Thonni Morikawa and Amber continued the planning of an updated interpretive display to replace them. This new display would be more in keeping with the Park's mission to better teach California history and would include appropriate text panels and graphics. My part in all this would be to build four replica trunks, based on originals salvaged from the old display. Three of the four picked by Thonni were good examples of mid-19th century styles and one was definitely early 19th century. My replicas would become key elements in the new display, eliminating the angst caused by the loss of original artifacts. What made this project a curious depature from my normal work was that the trunks would only be used as props and never be opened. In other words, non-funtional but pretty cool to look at.
|Jenny Lind Trunk Form (upper right) Covered in Leather|
Two Lower Trunk Forms in Unpainted Canvas
Hair on Hide Covered Trunk (upper left) Near Completion
Photos Lindy Miller 2012
After gathering the data from the original trunks, I began by building the hollow forms for each trunk from one inch, number two pine. A careful layout on paper allowed me to project where thicknesses in the pine planks needed to be, in order to sculpt the profiles of the original trunks. A lot of planing and rasping brought out the curves and angles that lead to solid but graceful forms. Two of the mid-century trunks were similar and would eventually be covered in painted canvas. The Jenny Lind style trunk would get a covering of tooled, vegetable tanned leather and the fourth, earlier cylinder trunk, was destined to wear unborn calf hide, or as they call it, "slunk".
|Progress on Coverings and Hardware|
Hair on Hide Trunk Completed
|Hidden Details on Canvas Covered Example|
Awaiting the Final Brass Tacks
Finding all of the appropriate materials is always a challenge but I was pretty lucky to find close matches from online vendors. A good source for solid brass tacks is Crazy Crow Trading Post and they have a selection of sizes. The Jenny Lind style of tack is less common but I found two sources for two varietys. Van Dykes Restorers offers a large cast iron Jenny Lind style tack, that comes from India and the Furniture Restoration Center of Oregon has a smaller version but still a good style. For iron roller buckles, I used Blockade Runner Sutlery of Tennessee. All of the leather came from an online auction.
|All Four Trunks Completed and |
Ready for Delivery
All of the locking mechanisms were crafted from scratch, using brass and steel and although based on the original versions, they didn't need to be functional. Some of the original trunk's leather handles and straps had hand stitched detail which I copied in my replicas as faithful as possible. Embossing the leather was an interesting exercise. I ended up making a tooling wheel - roller thingy , using a strip of embossed brass wrapped around a wooden cylinder. That, plus an embossing plate made from some of the same brass strip, gave me the tools neccessary to stamp the veg.- tanned covering for the Jenny Lind trunk with decorative panel designs.
|Closer views of the Hide Covered Versions|
To allow for display options, I made sure that the trunks were complete and authentically styled from all sides, including the bottoms. All in all an interesting project with its own challenges but well worth it and I got to help improve the interpretation of our local history.
|The Trunks in Their New Home|
But Not the Final Display