Two heads ARE better than one!

MOST of the time I have TOO many ideas.  I’ll know WHAT I want to do, but can’t decide which way to do it.  And oftentimes,  my FIRST idea is not the one I end up using.  Rather one thing leads to another and eventually I get the look I was going for.  It’s a PROCESS.  Then there are the times that I just get STUCK!

4.24.13 buys stars etsy crap 013And adding ‘that finishing touch’ to these two newly re-papered boxes was one of those times! 

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 The bottom one is ‘hat box’ size and made of paper mache.  

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I have no idea what the top one was for originally.  It had an ugly red-ish alligator skin finish, and is made of wood with a velvet-like lining inside.  VERY sturdy.  My first thought was to make it into a padded foot stool, with storage space inside.

4.24.13 buys stars etsy crap 020So after I re-papered them and applied a couple of coats of matte varnish for durability, I wanted to add a ‘finishing touch’.  This round wood finial was perfect for the mache hat box; BUT I really wanted to STACK the boxes when I take them to my booth at Curiosities in Beaverton.  So, that meant I couldn’t put a knob on the box that would go on the bottom.

4.24.13 buys stars etsy crap 022BUT, the little black knob just didn’t ‘look right’ on the bigger box.  It felt too small.

4.24.13 buys stars etsy crap 024So I decided to ‘beef it up’ a bit.  I always keep some of these little wood plaques on hand, so I tried adding one of those first.

4.24.13 buys stars etsy crap 023(of course I would have painted it black too, but I was just ‘trying it on for size’ first)  Still not big enough!

4.24.13 buys stars etsy crap 012So I went back to my ‘wood parts stash’ and got another round piece like the first one.  Found this FABULOUS unfinished ‘bun foot’ and sandwiched it between the 2 small rounds.  Then added a bigger round plaque as a base.  I was still just ‘experimenting’ so nothing had been glued together yet.  And I kept trying different combinations . . .but I was just STUCK!  I could NOT decide what to do?!?!  Because I REALLY wanted the black knob on the black lid; but I also wanted to be able to stack the boxes!!  aaaaaaaaargh!!

4.24.13 buys stars etsy crap 025The SIZE of the bigger one (as shown above) was certainly the right scale, but for some reason I just could NOT commit to permanently attaching it to the bigger box.  Maybe I was ‘too stuck’ on the idea that it would make a great storage foot stool?!?

So I enlisted Michael’s help  and asked for his opinion.  Showed him all the different options, and explained why I didn’t want to attach it to the hatbox, but also didn’t want to ruin the possibility that the bigger one could be used as a foot stool.

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It took him maybe 2 seconds to come up with the perfect solution:  Just leave it SEPARATE, like a finial.  Don’t attach it to either, but just set it on top of the taller box when you display them.

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Genius!  HOW did I not think of that myself?!?!?



TUTORIAL: Painting stripes on paper mache boxes


These are paper mache boxes that I painted, striped and distressed.  The two small sets of three were ‘new’ sets.  The big box is one that I had painted a different design on a long time ago, and decided to update it.  The lid to the big one was already finished in black, so I left it as was.

First, give all the boxes a good solid base coat of black.

Pick the two colors you wnat to use on your boxes.  Select the LIGHTER of those two colors to paint over tha black paint.  BTW:  I do NOT recommend the ‘Craft Smart’ brand of paint!  It is very thin and watery and does not cover well at all.  I had to mix some other paints with mine to get it to cover well enough.)

On to the stripes!  Take your secondary (darker) color and select a paint brush that is the width that you want your stripes to be.  Note that the stripes are NOT perfect.  If you want them to be perfect you can tape them off or use a stencil.  I like prefer the slightly crooked ‘free hand’ painted look.  A lot of the inperfections in your stripes will ‘disappear’ when you distress your item later.

When you’ve got 3/4 of the way around your box with the stripes, pause and analyze the amount of space you have left and guestimate whether you are going to have to ‘adjust’ your stripe width in order to get them to ‘match up’ with your first stripe.  It’s better to SPACE the stripes a tad farther apart than to make them closer in order to fit the space.

Horizontal stripes are harder for me to do, hence I don’t do them as often.  But again, the ‘crookedness’ of the stripes will blend in with the distressing step.

Once all your paint is dry, it’s time to sand and distress your boxes.  I use my 4″ electric belt sander, and hand held prbital sander )for areas the belt sander can’t get to)  You can sand them by hand, it’s just a LOT more work.  Since I am making quantities of them, I NEED a fast and easy way.  If you do hand sand, a COARSE sanding SPONGE is recommended.

I wanted to add some designs to my boxes, but I often do them with ‘just the stripes’

Use FOAM (not rubber!) stamps and water based acrylic craft paint for your designs.  This is the same paint that I used for my base coat.

LIGHTLY load your stamp with paint (too much paint will cause your stamp to SLIDE when you press it to your box).  I also get TWO stamps per paint loading.  The second one is lighter, but that just means less sanding off later!

After your stamped on designs are dry, lightly hand sand them with a coarse sanding sponge to distress them.

I decided my big box needed some DOTS in addition to the stamped design.  Use the end of a paint brush, dipped into paint.  I made three dots with each paint loading.  Each dot comes out slightly smaller than the previous one.

Next it’s time for my ‘secret ingredient’.  This concoction is my own creation and I do not share or sell the recipe.  (Sorry, it’s the ONE THING that I won’t share) but you can buy it in a can at the store (no mail orders – too expensive to pack a ship) .  The ‘weathered wood wash’ is just brushed on over the entire sanded box and lid to give it a nice aged look.

See the difference the wood wash makes?   You can also use a  use a water based stain to get a similar look.

Once the wood wash is dry, I add a coat of MATTE varnish to seal and protect the surface.

I wanted to add some wood knobs to a couple of the boxes.  To find ‘the center’ for the knob placement, I traced the lid onto a piece of newspaper.  Cut out the circle to the INDIDE of my tracing line.  Folded the paper circle into fourths, and cut a tiny snip out of the center.  Placed the opened paper circle into my lid and used a pencil to mark the center.

Drilled a tiny hole at the center mark and screwed my wood knob on from underneath.





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Painted paper mache boxes

I originally painted these boxes YEARS ago.  Found them packed away, (in perfect shape!) but the colors were just too outdated.  I base coated them all black on one of my ‘painting marathon days’ last summer, when paint dries almost instantly.  Then I have a big pile of already base coated projects all ready to go when inspiration strikes!

I got my fill of rearranging the store last week, so now it’s time to work on some projects.  The mache boxes were chosen.

They were first painted their intended colors, then sanded down for some of the black base coat to show through.  Then I used a sponge stamp to add the design on the front.  And once that was dry, I sanded it a bit also.

Then a coat of matte varnish and I’m done!  Here’s another pair:

On this last one I added a wood knob to the lid and some painted wooden spools as feet.