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Friday, December 11, 2009

21st Century Punched Tin: Carrying On the Mountain Tradition of Making Do

The art of punched tin is a very familiar Mountain or Country craft - and was widely produced in the mountains of North Carolina, Virginia, etc., back in the day. I've heard this particular art was brought to our region by Pennsylvania German tinsmiths. Probably most familiar to us nowadays is the antique pie safe with its panels of punched tin to provide ventilation for the baked goods stored inside, while protecting them from flies, etc. Of course, now that we have other more advanced forms of food storage, punched tin is more valued for its decorative virtues than for its practicality. And you can find lots of examples of antique furniture with punched tin panels while shopping the many antique shops and craft markets all over the mountains (there's a whole string of neat places down highway 105 back towards Boone. But I digress . . .).


Here's an inexpensive way to bring some of that traditional mountain craft to your Christmas tree - again, keeping the admirable Mountain tradition of making do, and using your time and ingenuity to transform scraps and discards into something lovely.

Consider the lowly condensed orange juice can lid (or, if you have one of those dandy can openers that take off a can lid without producing sharp edges, it can be any can lid). It has a lovely finish, is a nice circular piece of tin, and all you need is a nail and a small hammer to start making a Christmas pattern of little holes in it (Don't forget to work on a piece of scrap wood that you don't mind getting holey.).

One additional, larger hole near the top, through which to string a pretty ribbon, and there you have it: A lovely little ornament which hearkens back to the virtues of simpler, harder times.

Incidentally, if you spend any time at our vacation condo, Beech Mountain Bliss, there are several examples of punched tin to be found there. Even in these modern times of plenty, punched tin continues to be an attractive and affordable way to brighten up a room. Hope this inspires you to find other clever ways to make do.
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