Cigar Box to Pretty Thing Box

Looking back on how I write up some projects, the information on how something is made gets spread about amongst multiple posts and may only be a minor subject of the posts so I thought I should summarize the project if it ended up working at all.

I think this one finally worked. So here is how a cigar box went to a pretty thing box in a single post…

We acquired some empty cigar boxes for free at a liquor store. They were pleased to get these off their hands and we were thrilled to get a free box. I don’t know why the prospect of having a box to put things in, ends up being so exciting for me.

Maybe I was Pandora in another life?

I scraped off the decals and sanded the dark finish off the box. I wasn’t super careful about all the nooks and crannies. I mainly focused on sanding down the embossed areas.

I didn’t take off any of the hardware. It is so small and nailed on, If you really want the hardware to remain metallic, there is a brush-on paint blocker.

Drawing inspiration from a pretty French Press coffee maker I saw (and almost bought even though I don’t drink coffee), I dug up some red paint I already had to paint some patio furniture. This is a nice, dark red and gave me great coverage.

I gave the box multiple thin coats to avoid drips. This part of the project took the longest because I made sure to give it lots of drying time in between coats. I would give it a coat before work or right before I went to bed. In the end, it probably got five coats just to give it as glossy a surface as possible. After the first coat I could see where there were some rough patches so I just sanded them a little with fine sand paper and continued the coats.

I had my heart set on a single damask (I know damask is the fabric, what do we call the distinctive pattern traditionally found on the fabric?) on the lid. I tried several different methods but, in the end, what gave me the results I wanted was a plastic stencil from Joanne’s stuck on with stencil adhesive. It keeps the edges of the stencil down but lets you pull up the stencil when you are done and you can just wash the adhesive off the surface you painted.

If you try a stencil method and don’t like how it turns out, it’s really easy to just sand it off and give it another coat of red. You can sand off the stencil without taking off all the base coat. The plastic stencil and stencil adhesive gave me a nice, crisp damask (or whatever we call it). I finished off the surface with a couple coats of an extra glossy top coat. I wanted an almost enamel finish.

I wanted to finish the inside with a little fabric to soften it a little. I didn’t pad it or anything but it kind of softened the look of the box inside. Because red is a really hard color to match, I went with a graphic black and white to give it a cool contrast. I picked up 1/2 yard of fabric which gave me almost double what I needed so you might be able to do this with some scraps you have hanging around.

I brushed Mod Podge on an inside edge and then the center to minimize wrinkles. This worked really nicely. I folded down the edges so there is no fraying edge visible. I simply folded the corners to keep the fabric flat. It doesn’t bulk up the corners much at all. You can see the corners look pretty tight here.

You could line this with felt or something softer for a jewelry box. I don’t want to use it as a jewelry box. I’ll probably use it for a set of dominos or several sets of dice. We had a lot of fun with dice games over Christmas so I think it would be a fun addition to the game stash.

This project had a lot of learning for me and was a bit of a challenge because I had such a specific idea of what I wanted but I’m pleased with it now and I kind of want to try another. Maybe some fancy script initials on the cover? The great thing about a box is it can pretty much be what you want it to be.

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