Assemblage Art: Florida Vintage 1940s Motel Door and a 1930s Toy Circus

I spent part of last week working on a couple of assemblage art projects.  I used old parts and old artwork and some vintage linens to create a 1940s Florida motel door and a make-do child’s circus toy. Whether these things will find a new home or not is up in the air, but they will get some people to stop and look in the window.


This is my imagined door to Unit #8 at The Pink Motel in Florida.




I made the following diorama from a student’s art project created during the late 1930’s at the Art Institute in Chicago. The artist’s name was Jean Romano and I purchased a stack of her art work a couple of years ago. Her work is so charming, but the toy, painted on cardboard, needed a firm structure to hold it up. I moved it into a wooden crate, just the right size, and turned the crate into a circus tent. I dyed soft, old cotton with food coloring to make faded flags and strung them from one end to another. I added the night-light cord so that my toy might catch peoples’ attention as they walk past at night.




The red, blue and white canvas was a sample of outdoor furniture all-weather fabric.



The center ring actually spins.



These uncut hand-drawn and painted characters can be cut out by the new owner of the circus. There is a marching band, a poodle dog act, clowns, elephants and a couple of politically incorrect acts that were acceptable in the 1930s but are now in poor taste. I didn’t show them here and it is encouraging to know that humans are evolving, with the passing years, into higher forms of being. Good for us! We are getting better!

Till next time,


Vintage Linen Bedding for 18″ (American Girl) Doll Bed

I like everything about vintage linens…the embroidery, the high-quality linen or cotton and the crochet-lace edges. A boxful often comes home with me from an auction. Inside, the handy work of American girls and women from the Victorian Era through the 1950’s continues to amaze me. Sometimes the workmanship is just passable, but I often find a treasure included, no doubt passed on from an earlier generation. After washing and ironing, I sell the best examples in my shop and keep all the ones that have defects, such as stains that cannot be removed. I’ve lived here for ten years and the pile is growing. All six drawers of this dresser and the suitcases are filled with vintage linens.


If I’ve found a vintage or antique doll bed over the summer, I make new bedding for it using this supply. Christmas is a good season for shoppers looking for a gift for daughters, granddaughters and nieces with an American Girl doll. These 18″ dolls are just the right size for vintage doll beds which usually measure between 18-20 inches long. Some of my beds sold to women who collect dolls, too.

This year, I found only one doll bed, a typical 1940’s – 1950’s bed with a crib-style side that lowers. I painted it white, as the wood looked listless, using some left over Fine Paints of Europe enamel.

I made the mattress from some high-density foam pieces that I had left over from furniture projects and covered it with some thick 1950’s pillow ticking fabric. You can see the ticking showing through the linen mattress cover.


The top sheet is part of a tea towel. It worked out perfectly because I had just enough of the embroidered linen for the back of one of the pillow cases.


A twin size Chenille Cinderella bedspread had just enough strong fabric left to make a doll-size blanket while pastel-colored crocheted scallops decorate the tea towel top sheet.


I made linen-covered pillow forms in fun shapes to pal along with the embroidered pillow covers.  There were quite a few  petticoat ladies linens in the drawer.


Embroidery motifs popular between the 1920’s and 1940’s are charming and I could have made the bedding using linens featuring butterflies, a favorite flower, Japanese lanterns or ladies’ fans, to name just a few.  Flower baskets were popular for decades, but particularly in the 1930’s. Below, you’ll see a few pieces of flower basket embroidery from my dresser drawers. Aren’t they pretty?