In the heyday of unapologetically big, tiki-inspired furnishings, the Western International Trading Company (WITCO) reigned supreme. If your home tiki bar needed some nautical art or lacquered tiki totem stools, WITCO was the brand to go with. Even Elvis famously decked out Graceland’s carpeted ceiling Jungle Room with WITCO furniture.
Much to the disappointment of mid-century furniture collectors, the Western International Trading Company is no more. But, with some time and the right tools, you can make your own WITCO-inspired artwork in a weekend.
To show us how it’s done Philip Bradley (aka World of Woodcraft) posted a detailed tutorial on how he created two mixed media works inspired by WITCO. The art was made for (and with) Philip’s retro-obsessed friend.
Using plywood, canvas, paint, and a nice wide grain wood as his raw materials, Philip put together two beautiful pieces that would look right at home in Don Draper’s apartment.
The more detailed shapes were rough cut using a scroll saw, then refined using a grinder with a carving burr, along with a sanding disk and later, sanding manually. What’s funny to me is that WITCO famously carved many of their pieces using chainsaws.
Pieces were stained using a mix of rosewood and walnut finishes, which Philip refers to as rosenut. After the stain set in, a few coats of finish were applied and later a light, neutral wax.
The finished result is gorgeous (in my retro-loving opinion), and arguably holds up to scrutiny better than many of the original WITCO works I’ve seen. But I suspect the best part is the feeling of hanging something on the wall that you had a hand in creating.