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A most unusual find!

Updated: Mar 6

I love to paint in 3D - especially wood boxes. I find them challenging and in addition to being decorative, they have a variety of uses when completed. When they are vintage I love them even more. Giving a piece new life and learning its history is very satisfying.

THIS ONE! This one is very unique. It is extremely well made, heavy, and comes from the George Gorton Machine Company. Established in 1893 as Gorton and Graham Machine Co., it was a family owned business for roughly 75 years (1868?), then sold a few times ending its history in 1975. Their initial location was an unused greenhouse in the Gorton family backyard, and was roughly 12' by 15'. Now that is a nod to small businesses like Studio At Burlwood. Yes?

The company had notable impact on early conveniences and safety items. You can learn more at, but here are some highlights:

  • Collaborated on the design and construction of a prototype refrigeration unit.

  • Inventing/manufacturing a safer cooking stove (fires started by stoves were common).

  • Inventing/manufacturing a safety can for gasoline with featured a fusible link. If a fire started, the lid would close, thus suffocating the fire. This was especially important given the multiple uses of gasoline in manufacturing industries.

  • 1897 - designing a brick enclosure for the 330,000 gallon town water 'standpipe' in Racine, Wisconsin where they were located.

  • Late 1890's - designing a safer coal-burning stove (for heating).

  • In April, 1900 - Gorton Machine earned a bronze for excellence in design of disc grinding equipment at the Paris Industrial Exposition.

Well, enough of the past. This box is "speaking to me" about its future. As you can see in the photos it not a lidded box. It has a drawer. Inside is a wood grid divider that was used to store engraving letters and numbers for the machines the Gorton Machine Company produced. Some cool features:

  • The wood grid inside is removable. The sizes of the grid can be changed by taking some of the sections out. (Don't lose them, though! You might want to replace them later for other purposes.)

  • The drawer operates smoothly and can be completely removed.

  • The original metal label is intact and will remain intact in the new design.

  • It has a variety of uses: jewelry; tea packets; aroma therapy items; sewing items; rock samples; miscellaeous treasures; what can you think of?

At this point I am pondering adding a base so the drawer is more easily accessible. It will certainly be sanded to reveal what I believe is wonderful maple wood. Then we shall see what story it will tell me and how it wants to enter its best future life. I can't wait to show you the progress!

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