vintage metal display letters

I have long dreamt of having a large-scale type installation in my home. Imagine a giant, white wall covered with vintage letters of varying size and fonts. Fantastic!

Reclaimed metal lettersImage: Reclaimed

It makes a statement to visually define a space with type, spelling out words with the metal letters. I am especially fond of the “drugs” sign below.

Examples of metal letters spelling words from the Cavender Diary
Images: The Cavender Diary

One of the barriers to entry on vintage metal letters is cost. Metal display letters range from $40 to $600 depending on size, age and material. If I ever commit to acquiring a real collection of letters, I might search for the first initials of my family’s names plus iconic and beautiful letters like “m” and “x” (and perhaps even an ampersand). I have started a small (but pricey!) collection of my own. The first one—a 3′ tall letter “a” in a classic serif font—I picked up on my trip to Connecticut.


Months later I found a sweet uppercase sans serif letter “E” in red at the Stella Antiques Show at the Piers in NYC. A fine beginning!

Capital sans serif letter "E" in red

There are a couple of places in Brooklyn that carry vintage display lettering, such as City Foundry, a delightfully cramped shop near several other antiques stores on Atlantic Avenue. Metal letters can also be found at the Brooklyn Flea. A great way to find vintage metal display lettering is by visiting small town antiques stores, though they won’t be cheap there either. And there are lots of vintage and lighted metal letters on etsy, but I like to think I find them as much as they find me—that it’s serendipity.

Lighted lettersImage: Pracownia

copper foiled watercolor easter eggs

When I began this Easter egg project I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. Initially, I considered creating pattens with the copper leaf on the eggs by taping off a design and then removing the tape after foiling, thereby revealing the pattern in the white shell underneath. But applying metallic foil is delicate work, {READ MORE}

circus act

I don’t love the circus. Okay, I don’t love seeing the animals in the circus (sad!). But I do love the big top, the clowns and bright marquee lights announcing the show. I am inspired lately by primary colors, bright red lips and exaggerated proportions. And I’m not the only one. Fashion designer Cynthia Rowley’s collection {READ MORE}


Flipping through Hemispheres magazine, I came across an article entitled, “Wish You Weren’t Here” about how healthy couples vacation separately. The luck! My decision to go on an expensive, solo trip validated by a few paragraphs in a travel mag. It was officially O.K. for me to leave my family and work for a week-long vacation and {READ MORE}

deer antler jewelry organizer

I’ve come across some beautiful and inspiring painted deer antlers at flea markets and on etsy. Most of the antlers I see are sold as tabletop art. Being a utilitarian girl, and also generally averse to clutter, I look for innovative uses for everyday (and not-so-everyday) objects. It occurred to me a mounted deer antler, {READ MORE}

valentine’s day cupcakes repost

Recently i was daydreaming about frosting and how beautiful it is when the food coloring is mixing in, before it’s fully incorporated. I wanted to try to recreate that as a finished look. So I made some valentine-themed cupcakes to bring to a dinner party. I have been into sweethearts as a source of creative inspiration (see also {READ MORE}

babying the big girls

While one of my children has never been seriously injured, the other one has been to the emergency room many times. We could talk about the iniquity of it all, but life is just like that: unfair. Our latest visit to the ER was for a nasty radius fracture—the result of a poorly-executed backbend walkover. {READ MORE}

pie fun(nel)

One of the best gifts I received for Xmas this year was from a dear friend who presented me with a pie funnel. What is a pie funnel? you might ask. Well, it’s a kitchen gadget worth owning, that’s what. Pie funnels, also referred to as pie birds, are a time-honored baker’s tool that have helped create {READ MORE}

keeping it light

So much has been going on in life right now. One kid with a broken arm, the other one (and me) getting the flu, and fighting with a stressed-out spouse have kept me close to home the past few weeks. This season, my theme is lightness. Light in spirit, heavy on love. I remind myself daily {READ MORE}

Shoe Organization How-To

It’s been about a year since I wrote about organizing my shoes. With the recent closet cleanout, and my teeny weeny footwear obsession, the shoes in my closet have changed. Time to reshoot my shoes and organize the boxes for easy identification. At the risk of repeating previous topics, I’m including a how-to for shooting {READ MORE}