The Johnny Journal

Why...Yes! I'd Love To Show You My Homemade Vintage Tie Clip Display! Thanks For Asking!

I ADORE vintage 1940's-50’s wide neckties and have amassed quite a few over the years, but I’ve also collected lots of incredible vintage tie clips from the same period. I love the different themes and clever designs…the kitchier, the better!

Unfortunately, though, I’d never found a good way to display them all, so I ended up keeping them in this crude cardboard box. How barbaric! I had to dig around forever to find the perfect tie clips to wear with my favorite vintage neckties. There HAD to be a better way!

I had this vintage tweed suitcase lying around that I found while I was out on tour (yes, I collect vintage suitcases, too—stop the madness!). The outside looked great, but the inside fabric was trashed, so I decided to pull out the lining and use the shell to create a display case for my tie clip collection. The goal was to turn the suitcase on it’s side and be able to view all the clips so I could choose the perfect one to wear after I had knotted up my tie.

Next, I built this wooden frame with hinged panels to be inserted into the suitcase shell. This took a looooong time to figure out, because while I try to look pretty, I’m not the brightest bulb when it comes to construction. Because there wasn’t an established central post for the panel hinges to swing from, the challenge was to mount the hinges onto the panels themselves so that each panel could be supported and piggyback off of the one behind it.

I found some great velvety chocolate brown fabric that I thought would complement the mostly brass color of the tie clips. Then I measured and cut all the fabric pieces to cover the panels and “clip strips™” (trademark pending—don’t try to steal it).

“Clip strips™” glued and ready!

Here’s what one of the covered panels looked like, with strips in place.

With all of the panels upholstered, it was now time to install the frame into the case. This is where all the measuring paid off :)

Last minute lining of the suitcase hinge and heavy duty velcro straps installed to hold the heavy wooden frame inside.

With the frame in place and velcro straps fastened to the sides, you can see now that the design concept was not to have the panels stacked up inside the deeper part of the suitcase, but rather, to extend them outside of the case so I could easily flip through them and see the assorted clips on both sides. To keep the panels from falling forward because of their weight, the wooden frame inside the case needed to be heavy enough to act as a base.

Covered flat panels were also installed inside the front lip of the suitcase and on top of the frame in the back to maximize the amount of display area.

With the case ready for stocking, I decided to clean all the tie clips before I displayed them. I used ketchup: brushed it onto the clips, worked it in with a soft toothbrush, let them sit for 30 minutes, rinsed three times in a bowl of hot water, allowed them to air dry and then polished them lightly with a clean cloth. The acid in the ketchup supposedly cleans decades of old tarnish and deposits off of the brass metal pieces (or so I’m told by the Internet gods). The clips did look a lot better after they were cleaned! Thanks Al Gore!

WOW! You could eat off of those tie clips!

Commence to stocking!

And now, the finished product…

Mission accomplished! I can see every clip in the bunch by simply thumbing through the panels. It still takes a minute or two if I’m trying to locate a particular clip, but it’s a night and day difference from the impossible digging I was tasked with doing before. Plus, I’m able to enjoy my collection so much more now!

Here are many more pics of my vintage tie clip collection as displayed in the new case. I hope you dug this post!

Updating A Vintage Suitcase For A Vintage Microphone

I discovered early on in my career that my voice sounds best when recorded with a vintage ribbon microphone. An ol' skool ribbon mic provides the darkness and depth found in the recordings of my favorite mid-century singers that I don't think can be replicated with modern mics. The downside is, because they're so old, vintage ribbons have become harder and harder to come by, and the cost to rent them...well, it's ridiculous.

So I decided to take the plunge and purchase my own vintage RCA 77-D ribbon mic. After shopping around for awhile, I found a superb model on sale at Vintage King in Los Angeles. By avoiding expensive microphone rental, insurance, and shipping fees for my last few recording sessions, it has already paid for itself! I love it when that happens.

But, I still needed a mic case to protect it while in storage and in transit...

Experts recommend that a vintage ribbon microphone be stored vertically (up and down), so the ribbon inside doesn't sag over time. I hate sagging :) Vintage King wanted to sell me this red case for that reason. It's fine, it houses the mic vertically as recommended, but I didn't think it suited the mic. After all, a vintage microphone should have a vintage case, right? Plus, this modern foam case was priced at $150-$200. Umm, no thank you.

So, after rooting around the house for awhile, "The Muse" found an old suitcase I had used as a road case during my Indigo Swing touring days. Seemed like the perfect choice to keep things in the family.

The outside was still intact, but the inside lining was trashed. I cut out all the pocket fabric from the sides and the bottom, glued down any stray material and painted the exposed wood with some black latex paint we had lying around.

Next, I would need to create a cradle to secure the mic inside the case.

About a year ago, I commissioned a local company to make an ATA stage case to be used for touring. When I went to pick it up, I noticed a large bag of foam in the garbage area of the shop. When I asked if I could have it, they shrugged and said "whatever" (yes, I'm THAT guy). It was, however, a good premonition, because I had what I needed now to finish this new project.

Some foam pieces for the cradle, glued and trimmed.

These two items were absolutely necessary for this project.

Cradle ready for installation!

 I cut the foam extra tall so the lid would squash it down when closed and hold the mic in place.

The moment of truth...

It fits!

Just one more piece on top to hold the cargo in place.

Have mic, will travel! Vintage cool, stored on it's side to prevent the "sag". See you in the recording studio :)