by Lee Franklin July 25, 2019
A little over two years ago Jason Franklin (no relation) began a journey to make his basement in Canton, Ohio into a Mid Century retro getaway. He wanted to create a place where you could transcend in time back to a different era and it was through this journey of restoration and construction that he developed a love for atomic age and MCM decor. So much so that he began designing and casting aluminium starbursts and other MCM inspired decor to share with other vintage collectors. This then turned into the Vintage Revival Art Co …. We got talking to Jason about his mammoth restoration project and the fabulous business that was born out of it …
First up Jason, please tell us about your home. What made you want to create a Mid Century world in your basement?
My love for Mid Century and atomic age actually began when I was remodelling our main bathroom. I was looking for some vintage cabinets and came across some Youngstown Kitchens all metal wall shelves on Craigslist. After doing some research on them I found that they were built beginning in the 1940’s in Warren & Salem Ohio. Once I saw some old brochures and ads featuring them I fell in love with them.
I started collecting as many Youngstown cabinets as I could from all over and pretty much designed my whole basement around the kitchen. Everything else just snowballed from there as I would find new things from thrift store, estate sales and online.
How long has it taken you? And have you done it all yourself?
It took me about 1 ½ years from start to finish and all of the work was done by me.
Is the rest of your house retro in style?
I refinished our main bathroom in retro style and my office is all vintage, Mid Century style as well. Our main kitchen has modern appliances but everything else is retro style especially our 1950’s chrome and Formica table.
You obviously enjoy renovating and making (and are rather good at it!), is this something you have been trained in or are you self-taught?
For the most part, I’m self-taught. I worked a little bit in home remodelling right out of high school but have always been hands on and wanting to learn new crafts.
Your basement is full of totally fabulous pieces. Do you have a favourite piece? And can you tell us why?
This is a tough one! I would have to say the Youngstown cabinets would be number one on the list. They are kind of like an old classic car. Solid, well built, and tons of style that you just don’t find in modern stuff. And for the insane amount of time I put into them. I have a vintage tension pole lamp that I bought from an estate sale that is one of my favorites and a 1950’s Naugahyde chair that has the coolest pattern ever.
Where does your love of vintage come from?
My grandfather and father were both into vintage motorcycles all my life and I was turning a wrench and tinkering with them as a toddler. I was always the one to take things apart and build something different.
How would you describe your own vintage style?
I would say my style is more atomic era than Mid Century. In the late 40’s and through the 50’s a lot of things were made from steel and I feel a real connection to that era.
What is your favourite era / maker?
The 1950’s would be favorite era for sure. Just the style of homes, furniture, cars, appliances etc.
Where do you source your vintage items?
I constantly look on Craigslist, Letgo, Facebook marketplace, estate sales, flea markets and garage sales. I also have a couple friends who kinda know my style and send me pics of things they find. I don’t necessarily know what I’m looking for until I see it most times. The stuff finds me!
Do you have any other big restoration/creation projects planned?
I would love to do a vintage travel trailer eventually.
Moving onto your business, how and why did you start Vintage Revival Art Co?
It actually started with the tension pole lamp I mentioned. I had picked up a whole stack of 1954 home builders catalogues from an estate sale. In one of the catalogues were several ads for starburst door escutcheons. I ended up hand fabricating a large starburst as a decorative piece that sits against the ceiling at the top of the tension pole.
I got to talking with my friend who owns the foundry and we discussed making a couple rough castings of several different size starburst just for the heck of it. They came out really nice and I posted a couple pics on Instagram. People went nuts over them and I had many inquiries on where I got them and if there were more. I saw an opportunity to fulfil a need in the market and took it.
Do you make all the pieces yourself? If so, I am guessing you have some kind of training in, or have previously worked (or still do!) in a foundry?
I design and make all the patterns myself and from there I take them to the foundry where they are cast for me. I work part time at the foundry a couple of evenings a week. Prior to this I had no experience in casting or foundry work. I’ve been fortunate enough to work at the foundry and learn all the steps necessary to make this happen. Once I get the rough castings back I do 100% of the finishing processes myself.
What does the future hold for your shop? Where would you like to see your shop heading?
The future of Vintage Revival Art Co is looking fantastic! I have recently added some new equipment to my shop to help beef up production. I have many other ideas and designs that I want to make a reality and eventually see my work all over the globe.
Do you have plans to expand into many more products?
I do have some other starburst designs currently in the works and many other products I want to get out there. The beauty of sandcasting is that anything you can dream up can be poured in aluminium if you have the skills to make the initial patterns.
Are there any specific pieces that you are dying to make?
I have a couple ideas with boomerangs and Mid Century shapes that I want to incorporate into some larger wall pieces.
You were recently featured in Retro Renovation, that’s pretty big, how was that for you?
That was really exciting and overwhelming at the same time. I was pleasantly surprised at how well my towel bars were received by everyone. It took me awhile to catch up after the article was released. I’m so thankful that Pam saw my work and added it to her blog.
Any closing remarks?
Making this type of art has been a dream come true for me! It’s not very often you meet someone who can truly enjoy their work and make a living at it. As well as provide some really cool stuff that cannot be found anywhere else.
Photo credits: All photos kindly provided by Jason.
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by Lee Franklin June 25, 2020
Less than a year ago, Nikki bought her 1964 ranch home and, in this short time, has been transforming it throughout … playing out a personal battle between colourful kitsch and MCM minimalism …
by Lee Franklin June 11, 2020
Gwenn, in her own words, is a “mid-century, retro, colours and eclectic stuff lover!” Her home is full of objects with stories, where broken and unloved things are upcycled into beautiful items full of purpose.
Hi there! We are mad bad fans of eclectic vintage and retro style ...
The Inkabilly blog features fabulous real-life retro homes ... from vintage fanatics to eclectic collectors. We delve into the secret worlds of retro fans and their homes, passions & inspirations ... stories of hard work and happen-chance.
We also love to share cool vintage and retro sellers, DIY restorations, snippets on design history, our favourite vintage eras etc ... Our aim is to be a resource for fabulous retro inspiration!
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Inkabilly is husband-and-wife team Lee and Karl. A mid century obsessed couple who've been designing and creating our vintage-inspired homewares, accessories and gifts in our Bristol studio, UK since 2010. We love to mix up our Retro! So in our emporium you will find a happy, eclectic mix of nostalgic and kitsch designs inspired by the 50's, 60's & 70's.