Friday, April 24, 2015

Memories of Memphis Altered Vintage Window by Candice Windham

Memories of Memphis
Designed by Candice Windham 

My hometown is Memphis, Tennessee, home also of Elvis, the blues, barbecue, Beale Street, the mighty Mississippi rolling on it’s way to the Gulf and the scent of Wisteria this time of year.

I also love our history. That’s why I was so excited when I found this window from a Memphis trolley from the early 1900s at a local
antique shop. My grandmother, grandfather and great-grandmother, all included in the final collage, could have looked out this very window. Note: The dark area on the upper left corner of the window is actually an old screen print detailing the fares and rules for riding the trolleys. Someone tried to remove it, so it’s hard to read, but I wouldn’t take it off for anything. It’s history.

My KellyCraft™ Get-It-Straight™Laser Square made lining up many of the elements so much easier than guessing or trying to wield my giant 3’ t-square. I used Kool Tak™ Premium Extreme to adhere all of the photo layers and attachment to the backing and then used Kool Tak™ Foam Squares to add some extra-special memorabilia to the outside of the window: a tag from our famous Memphis Water and a key from the Hotel King Cotton, now just a memory.
Here’s how I brought this piece back to life.


KellyCraft™ Get-it-Straight™ Laser Square and Multi-Mat™ Docking Station 
Kool Tak™ Premium Extreme Adhesive, ¼”, Foam Squares 1/8" x 1/8"
Foam board cut to fit the window
Printed card stock  (Haberdashery slab, The Paper Studio)
Solid card stock scraps, cream and tan
Letter stickers (Real Life: Pebblesine)
Hinge and key stickers (Nostalgiques, Dee’s Designs )
Small white tag
Black permanent marker
Self-adhesive lace (French General)
Red and Brown Inks (Tim Holtz Distress Ink, Ranger)
Glazer’s points or staples
Tools: sponges, scissors


Trim photos and sponge edges with red and brown ink.

Trim printed card stock to ½” larger all around than the photos. Mount each photo on a different card stock print, lining up each photo with the Get-it-Straight™ Laser Square and Multi-Mat™ Docking Station and using Kool Tak™ Premium Extreme Adhesive to attach the photos to the printed card stock. Arrange the photos on the foam board.

TIP: One of the photos I wanted to use was too large for my printer, so I printed it twice, one placed as far to the right as possible on the layout page, cutting off the left side, and one placed as far to the left as possible on the layout page, cutting off the right side. I then found an easy place to join the photos and sliced off the excess. I joined them by placing a strip of Kool Tak™  Premium Extreme Adhesive close to the edge of the smaller piece and lining the pieces up. You can also use the tiling setting on your printer to print over-sized photos if your printer has that feature.

Cut plain card stock to fit the area where the screen printing is located. Stamp swirls using brown ink randomly on the card stock.

Attach all the photos and the two pieces of stamped card stock (in the upper left screen print area on the window) to the foam board. Use the sides, top and bottom of the foam board to align the photos straight.

Tip: Since the collage items will be under glass, you don’t need as much adhesive as you would normally use to hold items in place. One strip at the top will do the job.

Tear a strip of printed card stock 12” wide and about 2” tall. Add the words with the alphabet stickers.

Remove the Get-it-Straight™ Laser Square from the Multi-Mat™ Docking Station. Place the Laser Square not he upper right edge of the  foam board and line up the laser beam where you want the top of the title block to be. Adhere the title block.

Raise the laser line about ½ above the title block and place the self-adhesive lace along that line.

I wanted to use a reference to Johnny Rivers’ recording of Memphis which was also a promotional phrase used in Memphis tourism brochures, so I hand-wrote the words “Give me” with the permanent marker on a tag sponged with brown ink and attached it to the left of the Memphis, Tennessee strip, wrapping the string through the lace.

Add sticker embellishments (hinge, key and ink pen) as desired.

Place the entire board behind the window and secure it in place with glazer’s points, staples or small framing nails.

In the area on the front where I preserved the screened print, I felt it needed something to break up
the big black square, so I added this vintage key from the King Cotton Hotel, attaching it with Kool Tak™ Foam Squares. The key was too thick to be placed under the glass but it needed something to anchor it, so I added a tag from a promotional bottle of Memphis Water, securing it also with  foam squares.

I placed a note on the back describing the significance of this odd frame. This piece will occupy a place of honor in my home because it contains photos of some of the things that makes Memphis so special: Elvis, Beale Street, the original Cossitt Library building, a vintage photo of the Memphis cobblestone wharf with cotton bales and workers, the Tennessee Brewery building and employees, my sweet grandparents and my great-grandmother with my sister and me. I hope this will be handed down in my family for generations to come.

Keep an eye out for unique base pieces such as this window, whether from old vehicles, old houses or old commercial buildings. They can make unique home décor items, plus, they deserve to be rescued.

I also have a window from a 135+ year-old Arlington, Tennessee home that I’ve been hoarding for several years now and have finally decided how to use it. Watch for a future project featuring this wonderful item.

Now get out and hit the antique, second-hand and architectural salvage stores in your area. Give an old item a new home!


  1. This is absolutely amazing, Candice. I love the whole idea of using an old trolley window to display all of this fabulous memorabilia. You are so very clever, my friend.

  2. What a great piece, a treasure!