Tramp Art

Boxes | Frames | Objects


During the period between 1870-1930 a relatively little-known but widespread form of folk art blossomed in America. It was called Tramp Art. Made of wooden cigar boxes or produce crates, these chip-carved and layered pieces were fashioned into frames, jewelry boxes, sewing caddies, and even furniture.

Though the term Tramp Art implies that they were created by hobos, they are believed, in fact, to have been created primarily by skilled but itinerant German or Scandinavian immigrants who traveled the country selling or trading their wares.

Tramp Art shares its vocabulary with quilts. Both are made from salvaged materials, and cut into patterns of primarily geometric shapes pieced together, and layered to create utilitarian objects. Both traditions could be done in the company of others with the “how-to” passed on orally.

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