Thursday, 31 May 2012

Mixed Media–Altered Box–Sea Theme

I have altered a small box for a birthday present for a friend. I bought these boxes at a craft show. They were originally brown in colour, and at the time I painted them all with cheap decorating primer in readiness for altering when the time came – I haven’t done very many of them yet.

04 Boxes Painted with Primer 1-10-11

While doing this, I decided to alter another two boxes while I was at it, covering them with scraps of tissue paper in blues and greens, attaching them with regular matt gel medium.

This is the first layer going on. First I painted the box with the gel medium, and then with the loaded brush, picked up each piece of tissue paper and laid it on the box, painting more gel medium on top and spreading out the wrinkles as much as possible. However careful I was, I still managed to get gel medium all over my fingers and the work surface – thank goodness for non-stick craft sheets!

01 First Layer 28-5-12

Here are the next layers going on.

02 Second Layer 28-5-12

03 Third Layer 28-5-12

At this stage I thought it was looking a bit too stark and needed toning down, so I applied a final layer of tissue paper all over, in a pale blue shade which allowed the other colours to show through.

04 Fourth Layer 28-5-12

I gradually built up this layer until I got the effect I wanted. This next photo was taken while the gel medium was still wet, but when it dried, the underlying colours showed up a bit more.

05 Fourth Layer Completed 28-5-12

Now time to add some embellishments.

Firstly I added some yarn on the box and lid sides and top, to resemble waves or ripples. Another very sticky and messy job!

06 With Yarn Applied 28-5-12

Here is a mock-up of how the embellishments on the lid would appear.

07 Embellishments Mock-Up 28-5-12

The starfish and shell I made some time ago when I did a batch production of mould making and Friendly Plastic casting (mostly gear wheels and other steampunk parts). The small pebbles have been pinched from the supply I made for my Choc-a-Bloc mixed media project (still a work in progress).

I painted the small embellishments initially with a mixture of yellow ochre and white acrylic paint. When this was dry I added a bit more colour to give some dimension and make them look more realistic.

I lined the inside of the boxes with just the pale blue tissue paper, building it up until it was the right colour, using the regular matt gel medium as before, but not lining the sides of the lid because otherwise the lids won’t go on – I’d already added a bit of thickness to the outside of the boxes, but did try to keep it to a minimum. The lids are quite a tight fit as it is. When the lining was as I wanted it, I painted a final layer of gel medium over it, and then added some gold gilding flakes, picking them up individually with a brush loaded with gel medium, and laying them down where I wanted, and finally painting over them with gel medium so they were properly anchored. I think this gives an interesting effect, and I like the way the gold is slightly dulled by the matt finish of the gel medium. (If you didn’t want this effect, you could always apply them using a gloss medium instead.)

08 Inside with Gilding Flakes 29-5-12

To finish the inside of the lid, I painted the sides with a mixture of green and white acrylic paint to co-ordinate with the green of the outside, and I also carefully painted this along the edges of the box and lid to cover up the white.

09 Completed Lid Inside 30-5-12

In the centre of the lid, using a small palette knife, I applied a small quantity of coarse pumice gel medium coloured with the same yellow ochre and white mixture I used to paint the embellishments, to represent sand. The final touches were to add some Glossy Accents to form a small rock pool in the sand, and I applied a very light touch of Treasure Gold metallic wax (like Rub ’n Buff) to the yarn to give a bit of sparkle.

10 Completed Sea Theme Box Open 30-5-12

11 Completed Sea Theme Box Closed 30-5-12

With a colour-co-ordinated card, I think this makes a nice gift, especially for my friend who loves the sea!

12 Sea Theme Box and Card 30-5-12


  1. Love this box and the step by step pictures - that really helps to see what you have done to transform something plain into a work of art!
    Off on holiday for a week soon - have a good jubilee holiday!

  2. This is a lovely project Shoshi. I am sure it will be treasured. i made some of these boxes as Christmas gifts several years ago and it was nice to see them still on display in some of the houses I visited last week. Your colour scheme is excellent for the theme, and the card matches so well. Lucky friend! Kate x

  3. OMG 2 boxes lol I counted almost 50, as bad as the ATCS I've been doing hahahaha


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