Turning a Clawfoot Vintage Tub into a Work of Art

The vintage clawfoot tub had its origin in the mid 18th century in Europe. The ball foot design was initially created in Holland and then spread to England, followed by the States. The epitome of the historic bathroom tub is the clawfoot tub. The clawfoot tub reached its popularity in the late 19th century. As a child in Sioux City, I bathed in a porcelain tub with claw feet. People who buy a home with a clawfoot tub now want to restore it or get rid of it.

In 1973, a few months after my husband and I moved into our new home, I received a call from an uncle, who had purchased a Morningside home to fix up and resell. It had an old porcelain tub with a claw foot. He called and asked if I wanted this old tub as he knew I liked old things. I told him I would love to have it, so he brought it in the back of a pickup truck and put it under our deck. I painted it red and planted flowers in it. The last several years it has stood empty, as it sat under our deck where we couldn’t enjoy it.

I wanted to refurbish it, so I called Nan Wilson, an Art instructor at Briar Cliff University. Thankfully, she accepted the challenge. I told her she could develop any design and use any colors. It was truly a ‘labor of love.’  The tub has the same design on both sides and different designs on each end. She painted the inside of the tub white. We then had it sprayed by Gordon Body Shop to protect the finish and keep it from fading in the sun.

It now has a special place in one of our flower beds, which we can enjoy from any room in the back of our home. Paul Sundquist, our gardener, suggested I not plant directly in the tub but rather, use two big plastic planters painted white. The flowers he planted compliment beautifully the colors and the design of the tub.  It certainly is the focal point in our yard!

Sandy Sabel not only inspires us to reconnect with treasures from the past in creative ways but also to connect with those we appreciate in our present in meaningful ways.

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