Assemblage Art: Florida Vintage 1940s Motel Door and a 1930s Toy Circus

I spent part of last week working on a couple of assemblage art projects.  I used old parts and old artwork and some vintage linens to create a 1940s Florida motel door and a make-do child’s circus toy. Whether these things will find a new home or not is up in the air, but they will get some people to stop and look in the window.


This is my imagined door to Unit #8 at The Pink Motel in Florida.




I made the following diorama from a student’s art project created during the late 1930’s at the Art Institute in Chicago. The artist’s name was Jean Romano and I purchased a stack of her art work a couple of years ago. Her work is so charming, but the toy, painted on cardboard, needed a firm structure to hold it up. I moved it into a wooden crate, just the right size, and turned the crate into a circus tent. I dyed soft, old cotton with food coloring to make faded flags and strung them from one end to another. I added the night-light cord so that my toy might catch peoples’ attention as they walk past at night.




The red, blue and white canvas was a sample of outdoor furniture all-weather fabric.



The center ring actually spins.



These uncut hand-drawn and painted characters can be cut out by the new owner of the circus. There is a marching band, a poodle dog act, clowns, elephants and a couple of politically incorrect acts that were acceptable in the 1930s but are now in poor taste. I didn’t show them here and it is encouraging to know that humans are evolving, with the passing years, into higher forms of being. Good for us! We are getting better!

Till next time,


35 thoughts on “Assemblage Art: Florida Vintage 1940s Motel Door and a 1930s Toy Circus

  1. ohmyohmyohmy what eye candy have we here…if only your store was closer to home!! That door is so gorgeous and the circus I can so see put up in a sunroom or dining room and become the centre of everybody attention and bring many smiles to to may faces! I was also slightly drooling over that pink beauty case with the polka dot lining…
    Lovely Genine, more of this please. xo Johanna


    • I can see we are kindred souls, Johanna. I think the circus would make someone a happy nightlight. And, if they can’t sleep, they could get up and play with it! The way the artist made the center ring spin was ingenious.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Both of those are so stinkin’ cute, Ginene. I love that you took the time to create them and spark your customers imaginations. We seem to have better intentions than we do in putting our thoughts to action at Panoply. The pink motel vignette is especially charming


    • Rita, I laughed when I read your comment because a group of six women came in Saturday and a woman said, “This place is so stinkin’ cute!” I told her that was one of the best compliments I have received and now I’ve received it twice!


  3. Ginene, The door #8…oh my gosh… What fun!! And the pink flamingos has the Florida Keys spot on. The Pink Motel there’s a real story behind that. You really turned the circus into a work of art, really, it’s no longer a toy. Wonderful work. And thanks for sparing us the 1930 acts. I can only imagine. Great post as always.


    • Hi Linda, I don’t have much of a front window because this was a bank, but the window is just large enough for the door. I am on the north side of the street so I focus a light on whatever I put in that space. I am next to a martini bar and across the street is a big, popular restaurant that gets a lot of business at night. I’ve found checks slipped under the door for things I’ve placed in that location. What fun that is!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. You are one talented lady…I love what you’ve done there. I would take the MOTEL door and cute little suitcases “kit & kaboodle”! It is just so retro…so Key West when Hemingway still made a home there. Love it!

    The circus is awesome, your really knocked the ball out of the park with this. Every time you post I promise myself that someday I will visit your shop! :)

    Jane xx


  5. Both these projects are just fabulous. Each so different however the common denominator is “outside of the box” creativity! Just beautiful and as everyone else comments, “That door is just too much!”


    • Thank you, Denise. You gave me the inspiration for these Florida art projects. It started when we were talking about you taking Grandma’s travel trailer to Florida and I remembered its vintage interior.


  6. Those fabulous window displays will without a doubt draw people inside. You did a great job on the circus. Everything you added looks so authentic as if it were all originally part of the diorama. I love the door display too. Bravo!


    • Thank you, Ann. I’m going to put the door in the window today…we received almost a foot of pure, white snow this morning so it seems like the perfect time for something related to Florida.


  7. Like to salute your flair in creating beauty out of vintage bric-a-brac. One is at a loss to pick the winner out of pink motel, the circus and ring master, not to speak of other pieces opening out a world of colourful characters….keep up the good work, Ginene…best wishes… Raj.


  8. How fun! So charming!! You took a lot of time with that and I’d say it is well worth it. Adding the lights was such a good idea. I would never be able to resist going in to a shop with displays like that. Dying and cutting the tiny banners… Creating the whole scene in the crate, complete with circus tenting! Wow!! Mixing up the materials adds so much, doesn’t it? (Time as well as punch, lol!).
    Those flamingos and vintage Florida things really bring me back when I was little, driving south in our big old station wagon to visit my Grandma.
    As always, you share things that always fill me with delight, admiration and inspiration!! Another great one!!!


  9. Ginene,
    What a treat for those who frequent the nearby establishments; to walk out after a lovely evening with family or friends and wander over to look into your window. Wish I lived closer. :) Looking forward to warmer weather!


  10. Every time I visit your beautiful blog, I am enchanted with vintage views, and today is a perfect example of your imaginative creativity, Ginene. I want to be at that circus, mindlessly nibbling on my cotton candy, as my eyes are glued to the roaring lions, ball balancing seals, and the pretty girl on the pony! Then, we would head back to our hotel, room #8, the one with the charming door, to relive those moments of suspense and fun!


    Happy Spring!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Poppy! I have spent a few winters when young in Sarasota where I often met people who were with the circus. I remember spending an evening talking to an elephant trainer from Africa. What a life he must have had.


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