I previously wrote about how I transformed unused, empty boxes into keepboxes for my art tools out of necessity. As customary, here's an entry of how I made them. For this DIY, I’m not gonna go schoolgirl about this and write a list of materials and procedures because there are just so many ways to do it. I can imagine my word processor going gaga over all the commas and parentheses and repetition of the word “or”. This post will simply be a look over of my own motivations, the questions I asked myself, and my short experience doing the project, with which you may or may not find possible parallels to yours. These art tool boxes are so easy to make, you can make something similar yourself or use this as basic prototype in creating your very own design. You will be surprised at all the possibilities an old, empty box can offer.
WHERE TO STORE?
I have accumulated a few of these boxes from a beauty box subscription called Glamourbox. I love how sturdy their boxes are. I did hesitate brushing paint over them at first, for two reasons: they looked neat and consistent as they are and I am no whizz when it comes to a paintbrush. But I was determined to keep in theme.
I would totally recommend this beauty box subscription and in fact, I am quite certain they’d be happy their boxes are being recycled and reused. Because we all love the environment, don’t we?
WRAP OR PAINT?
One of my first considerations was wrapping all the boxes in something nice and identical. However, I didn’t have anything in my current paper supplies stash that would fit the palette I have decided on and I avidly encourage the practice of working with what one currently has. And if I am to be honest, I’m not so great with wrapping any box for reuse, anyway. No matter how meticulously and painstakingly hard I work on it, it always ends up looking like shoddy, second-rate DIY finished product so I avoid it like I do that hotel near my house that is pretty but offers “poo” & “spa” amenities. So wrapping… not so big on that idea right now. But if you are a black belt in wrapping paper and scotch tape, by all means, go for it. Again, what we’re going for here is working with things at your disposal, skills included.
Speaking of skills, I have been planning on practicing with paint each chance I get so Sim Kaeratana gets to Level 10 Painting ASAP. So paint it is.
The next proper question to ask was which colors and types of paint to use. With palette in hand, I inspected all the paint I have in stock. For the boxes, I ended up with a mix that resulted in a gloss paint of very, very pale rose. I was quite happy with the result because I really wanted it to be almost-but–not-quite white.
HOW TO LABEL?
Choosing the paint for the labels was a bit more challenging. I found I had a couple of cans of enamel spray paint to spare. I was planning on using something like stencils (but not stencils) for the labels and I figured spray paint would be easiest to apply and would produce the smartest looking letters. It actually shouted too easy. And I’m generally a trusting person but I don’t trust “too easy”. I avoid “too easy”. It’s that whole Hotel Poo & Spa thing again.
Besides, I wanted something of an irregular, frayed look about the labels. With paint as medium, the closest thing to that I can conceptualize is some sort of peeled effect and I wasn’t sure how to do that with spray paint. In the end, I decided on matte-finish paint because it’s quick to dry. Plus it will be against gloss paint-covered boxes, so between that and the chipboard alphabet, it will be very easy to manipulate the edges of the painted letters to achieve the desired look.
Again, you don’t have to go through that whole thing if you don't feel like it. If you have sticker labels, wooden letters, metal tag frames, blackboard paper, the back of unflattering photographs, anything at all, you can use them for your labels.
And now, time for the usual, unsolicited plugs. For the letter patterns, I used these chipboard alphabets.
Each chip has mini adhesives at the back of it. I love that they semi-stick on the boxes enough to keep them secure, but not enough to damage the paint upon removal. The cutout letters are in fact the main attraction, but because the board is so sturdy, you are able to use the skeleton pattern with which the cutout letters were framed. They're reusable as patterns too, just be careful not to lose those mini parts inside some letters like “a” and “e”. This 75+ piece chipboard alphabet is available for PHP 120.00 (app. US$ 2.75) at the Living Well Homestore, The Podium in Ortigas.
Not-so-expert tip: When painting within the frame of the chipboard letters, I made sure to cover the sides well. If you do, you’ll find that when you unstick the letter, paint will attempt to cling to the letter, stretching parts of the paint in the edges and as a result, giving you that frayed, peeled look.
After leaving them to dry for a while, I brushed protective coat over the letters to, well, protect them. I used my Pebeo Superfine Picture Varnish for paintings (PHP 170.00 / US$ 4.00, Bestsellers bookstore, The Podium), but there are numerous alternatives for this out there, including spray varnishes which are easy to apply. Some varnish turn yellowish or off-whitish after application, so for a project like this, you may want to look for 100% transparent varnish. I just quickly brushed ample amount of it over the letters.
The chipboard patterns are reuseable, the boxes are supplied monthly and I've saved enough of the paint mix to easily make similar ones if needed. Again, with one empty box and thousands of label options, you can make your own in any way you like. What I did was simply look at the box long enough until it told me what it wanted done to it 😉