The Interrogator

The Interrogator
Sexy Dieselpunk Fascist Girl

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Mini-Bar in a Vintage Suitcase

Mini-bar built in in vintage suitcase from Carson Quality Luggage

Making a retro mini-bar from a vintage suitcase.

I used an LED flashlight underneath the tray to illuminate the glasses

I recently discovered through Pinterest that there were a lot of cool things that could be done with vintage luggage. I think I discovered this by looking up industrial d├ęcor, but often times this is very retro in its nature and so the two concepts tend to complement one another.  One of the favorite ways to repurpose vintage luggage it seems, is to convert them into mini-bars or drinks tables. As I’m a devout fan of quality hard liquor, this seemed an appropriate first project.

The ice bucket takes up a lot of real estate
By good luck there’s a little shop near the St-Henri  Metro called Mixx Authentik specializing in vintage items of all sorts from the 40’s to the 70’s or so and they usually have several suitcases there on any day of the week. The prices are reasonable (compared to other places I’ve seen) and can usually be bargained down a bit. A few weeks prior to this writing I came across a suitcase I really liked. The outside was not too beat up—nothing that couldn’t be fixed with a bit of shoe polish over the leather parts and the inside was immaculate. All of the lining was in place, with no tears or rips, and definitely no stinky-musty smell. The shop owner wanted $80.00 but I bargained down to $70.00.
Since the suitcase lining was in such good condition, I was loath to tear it out, even though the fabric divider posed a few problems given what I wanted to do. Instead, I devoted myself to figuring a way keep it intact and out of the way at the same time. Essentially, I rolled it up and got it to stay in place by wedging in a tight fitting piece of artboard to which I had glued a 1930’s map repro bought in a local art supply store using techniques learned from a book on how to make scrapbooks.

Little details matter
To hide the rolled up divider, I pinned a number of photos to a strip of wood and then suspended this from the suitcase latches. The photos were all printed on fine art photo paper using one of my Epson R3000 printers and care was taken that they were all the same height. Three of the photos were of my 3rd Montreal Field Battery (3BAM) friends in their WWII uniforms, and one was of a pinup photo I'd shot of a lovely young model in a sailor outfit several years ago.

Something had to go into the bottom part of the suitcase to provide a hard, flat surface to put the bottles and glasses down and shopping around a bit, I found a nice looking tray at Stokes which was just about the right width, though a bit short in depth, which worked out quite well anyway. I glued some wood slats to the bottom using Lepage Contact Cement. Once inside the suitcase, the space between the edge of the tray and the wall of the suitcase was just right depth to fit in standard soft drink cans and I use it to keep a ready supply of mixers to hand, with more below.

Before I'd added the lower trays  or the ice bucket
Next, I needed some sort of stand to put the suitcase on top of.  A friend who knew of my project volunteered an old director’s chair that had been sitting in her garage for years, waiting to be thrown out. I happily took it, knowing that if I couldn’t use it for this project, I’d find another. I began by taking the back off, which was easy as the poles jutting upwards from the armrests were held in place by easily removable screws. This left a bit of a problem with the armrests, the tops of which were curved but a solution was at hand from stuff lying around my apartment. In film photography days, I had bolted an old enlarger to a piece of wood and placed rubber mounting feet bought in a hardware store on the other side to make sure it wouldn’t slip. I’d long since removed the enlarger and this piece of wood was just lying around plain view. I decided to place it on the armrests to try it for fit, and happily, it was just about the right width and the rubber feet, quite by accident had the right height and placement as to allow the board to rest level on the curved armrests!

Finally, I placed a 1/72 scale plastic model of a Curtiss P-40 fighter-bomber to the top of the open lid of the suitcase. The P-40 was a classic WWII aircraft produced to the end of the war and used in several different theaters.

All in all, this was a very fun project, and to boot, many of the elements needed to complete the look or make it come together, came from stuff that was just lying around my apartment or my friend's garage.

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