Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Giraffe's Gilly (aka circus wagon)

Hi everyone, Ann here today, sharing an inspired vintage circus wagon with you.
I was recently fortunate enough to see The Greatest Showman at the theatre. Wow, I was completely in awe of the incredible sets and costumes, and most amazing music. I found myself wondering how I could alter one of my Gypsy Soul Laser Cut boxes into a vintage circus wagon; as a multitude of fabulous visions from the film were playing through my head, I could not wait to get started.

I began with the ATC Shrine Box. This box arrives flat and contains five pieces. It is easiest to figure out how the pieces fit together before adhering paper or any adhesive. This box will form the cart portion of the wagon. The cart will sit on four 1" Wheels
Using a quick grab tacky glue, I assemble the box and set it aside. While it is drying, I consider papers for the exterior and interior of the piece that will be rich in color and convey the circus theme I have in mind. I select a red and white striped paper for the interior.  I cut an eight inch long strip of paper that equals the interior height of the box. I measure the interior of the box from left to right for depth and width and mark those measurements on the strip of paper. It is always best to measure twice and cut once, so I double check that I have the correct measurements and then cut the strip the appropriate length. I score the strip at 7/8" from each end to wrap the interior.
I envision a wagon that transports circus animals from city to city. This type of wagon requires a caged opening.  The front/caged side of the wagon will have a decorative opening for the cage to attach to. I first cut a piece of red Distress cardstock that covers the entire opening. Using a Tim Holtz Sizzix labels die, I center it where I would like the opening to be and run it through the die cutting machine. A modified Tim Holtz Gothic Gate die cut will create the cage. This cage piece is covered with embossing ink and coated with Emerald Creek charred gold embossing powder and heat set.

All of the remaining exterior sides of the box are painted with Distress Paint in fired brick and candied apple. Once the red coat has completely dried, I apply  Distress Paint in walnut stain and black soot with a stiff dry brush to create  a time worn patina.  This process is also used to paint the wheel housings. The interior ceiling of the wagon is painted with a coat of antique linen and the floor is painted with a mixture of antique linen and walnut stain. The floor will be covered later with a thin layer of straw pieces.
After the paint has completely dried, I adhere the paper to the interior. I add a metallic remnant rub in each upper corner. I resize a piece of Tim Holtz "traveler" ephemera, and add details with a gold gelly roll pen. This is inked around the edges and adhered to the back wall. Once the interior is complete, the caged panel frame is applied to the open face of the box. Ideology stars are added in each upper corner and a fussy cut CIRCUS banner is attached to the topmost center. 
When attaching the wheels to the wagon, I want the wheels to be situated apart from the housing. To do this I place a very small wooden bead between the wheel and the housing with hot glue. A brass nail serves as an axle to align and hold all the pieces together and another wooden bead is located on the inside of the housing. After assembling all four wheels and housings, I attach them to each side of the wagon.
The back side of the wagon is covered with circus posters. I searched for images of vintage circus signs and resized them to be a compatible scale for the wagon. Once they were printed, I cut them out, distressed the edges with ink, crumpled them, and rolled the corners to make them look authentic. I arranged the pieces to create a desirable layout and adhered them to the box.  I also added a pennant banner punched from Tim Holtz paper and strung on jute string.
 My wagon would not be complete without an occupant. I found wonderfully vintage circus giraffe and elephant images that I fussy cut. The giraffe stands inside his gilly, eager to arrive at the next destination.

Thanks so much for visiting the blog today,
I hope you experience something that inspires you to create.

Gypsy Soul Laser Cuts used:
ATC Shrine Box
Wheels 1 inch Fancy


  1. Ann! You are truly a like-minded soul. I just love creating vintage circus things and I love giraffes! You nailed it with this piece. You captured the essence of vintage circus--from the stripes to the worn posters. Kudos!

    1. Thank you Betsy! Your comment really made my day, I loved making this piece.