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Crafting & Typewriter Tchotchkes

Like every typewriter collector I have a drawer filled with typewriter-related ephemera; extra spools, case keys, and ribbon tins. Most of the things in this drawer came as extras stuffed in portable cases. A few were gifts from people who know that I like old stuff. I like all of these things and I want to keep them, but displaying ribbon tins is tricky.

That's when I stumbled on this idea that is really simple for you to make at home. While I am sure that someone has thought of this before, I think my method has the added benefit of being very inexpensive.

First, you'll have to get a few things together.

  • Roll of adhesive magnetic sheeting ($9.90 for a 18" x 12" roll from Michael's)
  • A picture frame with a glass front no larger than the magnetic sheeting ($3.39 from Target)
  • Metal tchotchkes for display
  1. Take apart the frame by removing the backing and the glass. Do be careful with the glass edges. Depending on how inexpensive your frame it, the edges of the glass might be a little knife-like. Discard the superfluous paper printed with the ever-happy family or newlywed couple.
  2. Cut a piece of magnetic sheeting the same size as the glass.
  3. Clean the glass well and then peel the backing of the magnetic sheeting. Apply to the glass carefully avoiding any bubbles or stray bits of grit. 
  4. Reassemble the frame, but in such a way that the magnetic sheet is facing outward. The cutaway below shows what I mean: 

The magnetic sheet should be facing out, the glass under it, and the cardboard backing holding it all in. What you should get it a frame much like the one at the start of this post.

You can adhere keys, ribbon tins, and other interesting bits with ease. If I was more crafty I might have made the magnet facing more decorative, but I like the slat-like look. It would probably look really good in a natural wood frame, but I wanted to match an existing collection of similar frames.


  1. Very attractive display. That is a great idea for displaying tins.

  2. "Tchotchkes". Never heard that word before. VERY familiar with what it describes.

  3. Brilliant. And are you going to help us out by identifying that typewriter tantalizingly partially presented? It says some sort of 1950's Olympia to me, based on the color and chrome strips. But I wouldn't bet my life on it ... not even my breakfast.


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