Saturday, April 20, 2013

Faux Zinc Travel Case

Almost a year ago, I guest posted this transformation of my travel bar Romance on a Dime.  I came across it while creating my Projects page and decided it was time to post it here.  I love how this case turned out and have used it several times while traveling to take a craft project along to work on...not while I'm driving of course ;)

I'm going to show you how I transformed an old Travel Bar® into a zinc-look craft case.  Travel Bar® cases are easy to find at thrift stores.  This one only had the original spoon, but I recently saw one complete with all cups etc., for $4.99.

I had no interest in a traveling bar, but a traveling craft case is right up my alley!  Have you priced a craft case lately?  There are a lot of really cool ones available, but my budget is too tight for most of them. This one cost me 2.99 at a resale store.  The rest of the supplies I had on hand.`

It was dirty and in pretty rough shape, but it was very solid and clean inside.  I washed it with a sponge dipped into a little Murphy's oil soap, mixed in a pail of water, and wrung out well.

One small section of the edge had started to pull away.

I used a toothpick to stuff wood glue into the opening, then wiped off the excess and held it in place for a few minutes.

 Once dry, I sprayed it with a few light coats of Oil Rubbed Bronze paint.  THAT didn't looked like a cheap, beat-up, pregnant briefcase.

Back to the drawing board.  If at first you don't succeed...try Pinterest!  I had pinned this faux zinc table top technique some time ago.  Ann Marie did a stunning job on this end table.

The Travel Bar is not leather, but it had a sort of leathery look to it.  It was also a little dinged up, and I thought this technique might just enhance the dingy dings.

First I brushed on a coat of gray primer, without painting the hardware.  Of course, I forgot to take a picture of that, but I think you get the drift.  

Next I sprayed several light coats of mirrored silver paint over everything including the hardware and the handle.  There are a couple different brands - I used Krylon.

I was painting this on the table, and I honestly didn't see the headline on the newspaper until I was uploading this.  I guess the little guy has been yearning for a place to call his own!  With a sponge brush I brushed on black acrylic paint that had been watered down about half (half paint, half water).  It doesn't take much. 

 Working fairly quickly, I painted one side at a time, then dabbed off most of the paint with a crumpled paper towel.  I dabbed three times over the same section.  Here's the first couple of dabs.

Then the second pass.

And finally the third.  I liked it at this stage, but you could stop at the second stage, or keep going to get the look you want.  You might want to practice on a piece of cardboard if you've never used this technique, but really, it is very easy.

Rather than painting the hardware the same, I chose to use the blotting paper towel to rub back onto the hardware in strokes to give it an aged patina.

After allowing the paint to dry completely, I cut out a number stencil from contact paper, using my Silhouette.  You could also use purchased stencils, or hand cut the stencil.  The numbers I chose have significance to my family...they are the days of the month each of my children were born.

After the stencil was in place, I dry brushed (dip paintbrush in paint, then dab most of the paint back off before using) the stencil.  Before removing the stencil, I carefully lifted one side to make sure I liked it.

The finished case looks kind of like a vintage metal military kit.  I love it!

Here it is with some of my bookmark making supplies inside.  

You could use this technique on so many things!  I can think of old suitcases, metal buckets, signs, and file cabinets right off the top of my head.

Until next time keep craftin' and smilin'!

I've linked to these parties:


  1. Deborah-That turned out great. Do you know I don't think I have ever seen one of those old bar cases thrifting. I love how cute it is now. Great tutorial, too. xo Diana

  2. Looks really great! Thanks for sharing all your trials and tribulations in the tutorial!

    :) Linda

  3. stinkin' cool is THAT?! It never ceases to amaze me how something can start off so blah...then turn out so awesome!


  4. Wow, you did a great job, Deborah! I love the stenciled numbers on it. I think there would be many uses for a case like that!

  5. I love this amazing makeover! You have so many good ideas. Thanks so much for sharing the "how to" and have a great weekend. Blessings, Patti

  6. Wow, This was all new to me and very interesting. You did a great job. Thanks for visiting me and leaving a comment...Connie

  7. wow! that does not even look like the same piece at all! awesome work!

  8. fantastic! you did great! love the layering of the paint. Great tutorial

  9. Wow Deborah, it really looks like metal. What a great transformation and tutorial. Love it!:)

  10. I LOVE this!! It's so cool looking!

    Again, thanks for joining the Link Up this week!

  11. Wow! I love this! I’d love it if you could link this up to our party, Give Me The Goods Monday! {1 party, 5 blogs}
    Have a great week!
    Jamie @

  12. It looks amazing. Thank you for this tutorial. Can't belive you achived this look with paint- looks like real zinc. WOW:)

  13. Wow! What an amazing transformation! You made it look so easy!I always wondered what to do with those traveling bar cases as it is hard to find anyone these days who is using them for what they were actually intended for.I just love them so now when I run across them at my local resale shops I will have your ideas in mind.You can never have too much storage.Enjoy!

  14. Wow! What an amazing transformation! You made it look so easy!I always wondered what to do with those traveling bar cases as it is hard to find anyone these days who is using them for what they were actually intended for.I just love them so now when I run across them at my local resale shops I will have your ideas in mind.You can never have too much storage.Enjoy!

  15. I love a good faux zinc finish! Yours looks great! Pinning!

  16. This turned out SO great! Thanks for the tutorial...I can't wait to try it!

  17. grazie per il tutorial, bellissimo il risultato!

  18. I'm beginning to like the old luggage. I found an old "make up case" at GW last week but it was priced high, even there - I decided to get it but it was gone when I went back :-( I like the kind with the mirrors in them. You did a nice paint job on this one ;-)

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  24. Wow Deborah, it truly looks like metal. What an extraordinary change and instructional exercise. Love it!:)city siege

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