The Joy of the Tackle Box

Tackle Box 1

Years ago when I was in high school, art students like me would go to sporting goods stores in search of just the right fishing tackle box to hold our pens, brushes, paints and other art supplies.  Eventually, companies like ArtBin caught on to this practice and began producing their own versions of tackle boxes, often made out of translucent plastic, that they pitched directly to artists.  Why use an ugly rough-and-tumble tackle box when you could carry an “art supply box” instead?

Except that on a recent weekend at Kimberly Ann’s Petersburg Pickers (, I chanced upon the perfect tackle box for use in my artistic endeavors.  Behold the Union Steel Chest Corp. Watertite Tackle Box, patented in 1951.

Tackle Box 2


This vintage baby is in practically mint condition, with only a barely noticeable dent in the top and a speck or two of rust along a few edges and around the lock.  She was filthy and loaded with hooks, flies and a 1967 Virginia Fishing Regulations Booklet, and she was MINE.  I cleaned her out, then cleaned her up, and what a beauty she turned out to be.  They just don’t make fishing tackle boxes like this anymore.  I’m using her now for my jewelry-making supplies, so let’s take a look at what she’s got under the hood.

Tackle Box 4


The sections of the upper tray hold all of my jewelry-making tools, spools of wire, some findings, and a red-and-white bobber I kept as a good-luck piece from the box’s original contents.

In the bottom section, a vintage metal ice cube tray holds small bags of buttons, and can be used to keep my supplies organized while I work.   An Altoids box is a convenient way to catch small pieces of metal and other trash.  I’ve also included 8″ and 12” rulers, more findings and chains, and a piece of fleece that is great to work on because it prevents beads, buttons and jump rings from rolling away.

Tackle Box 5

Tackle Box 6


I used to lug around several large totes filled with all of my jewelry supplies, but with a little project planning, I can create jewelry at any location, carrying everything I need in this one steel tackle box.  Think about the kind of art you like to do “on the go.”  If your supplies are small enough, a vintage fishing tackle box might be the perfect solution for you as well!

Tackle Box 7

Tackle Box 1