Hi, Liz here from the workroom! This DIY project was so fun to add layers of detail to, from paint blending and decoupage to raised stenciling and aging. I’ll give you the step by step process along so you can do your own Christmas Treasure Box DIY!
I have thrifted several wooden cigar boxes that are perfect for so many DIY projects! (I do have them available to buy in the shop, but I don’t ship them, so there isn’t a link on the website for the boxes) Most are made of mahogany, so I do typically prime them with Bin shellac-based primer to ensure the tannins from the mahogany wood don’t seep through the finish.
Another benefit of this priming step is that the light background is preferable for a base under the decoupage paper, which is slightly transparent.
After the primer was fully dried, I started the blended paint technique on the sides.
First, I misted the side with a light mist of water, using this continuous misting spray bottle.
Next, with a separate brushes for each color and 1 for just blending, I applied a quick brush of Manor Green Fusion Mineral Paint on the bottom edge.
Then, right away, while the green was still totally wet, I painted the top 2/3 of the side in Sterling Fusion Mineral Paint. I tried to not touch the Sterling brush into the wet Manor Green paint as I was brushing it on, but if it did get a little green on it, I just wiped the brush bristles off on a paper towel.
Next, using my small 50mm One Series brush, I started to blend the dark green and very light grey together so that there was a blurred, (hence: blended) line of the colors. No, not a line… in fact, successful blending removes the line, causing the colors to just flow from one into the other. The ultra fine synthetic bristles of these One Series Brushes accomplish that beautifully and effortlessly!
I had a lint free cloth handy to constantly wipe my blending brush with as paint/water got on the bristles, therefore keeping it as dry as possible.
After the sides of the box were painted, blended and dry, (2 coats) I painted the bottom of the box Manor Green and the rest of the box, including the inside, with the lighter Sterling color.
Now to the decoupage…
In the shop I stock several Roycycled papers that are ‘blocks’, which means there are more than just a single design on the paper. Each design, or ‘block’ is meant to be cut out separately, giving you the ability to use them each for different projects. The whole sheet is a fairly large 20″ x 30″, and at only $6.99 it’s a lot of bang for your buck!
For this Christmas Treasure Box DIY, I chose a block that fit the box lid from the Roycycled Christmas Blocks C. Also, I love birds, so this one was perfect for our living room.
That block was actually a bit larger than the cigar box top, so I trimmed it before applying it to the top, leaving about 1/2″ extra paper all the way around. I’ll explain how to perfectly trim that a little further down in the post…
I’ve done several different approaches for decoupage, this is just how I do most…
Decoupaging with Fusion Decoupage and Transfer Gel is super easy! I just painted on a layer of the gel, liberally and evenly as possible without getting all fussy about it.
Then laying my paper on the wet gel. I used a crunched up wad of plastic wrap, (like Saran Wrap or Cling Wrap) to smooth the paper across the gel and gently move the air bubbles out from between the paper and gel. Wrinkles are to be expected, but air bubbles are not good… they must be moved out.
This method is easy and usually does create some wrinkles in the paper. Some of those wrinkles will dry out, but some will stay. I like that wrinkled, vintage look, so I’m fine with this process for most projects.
I also like to pre-scrunch this particular type of paper, (scrunching it up in a wad and then flattening it back out) before laying it on the gel. I forgot to do that this time, but it gives the finish a bit of an old world canvas look.
Before the final trim, the decoupage gel needs to fully dry.
For this box, and most of my projects, I get impatient and grab a hair dryer to speed it up.
Using a sanding block, I gently, but firmly applied an angled downward motion to the edge of the box where I wanted the paper trimmed, being careful to not drag the sander across the paper in an upward direction. By only going in a downward stroke, it avoids risking lifting the paper from the top.
After the paper was trimmed, I then applied a coat of the decoupage gel to the top of the paper. This is an important step to provide protection for the paper surface. Fusion Decoupage Gel dries to a durable, but beautiful matte finish, never tacky.
Now a bit of detailing…
I’ve been using a lot of the Fusion Smooth Embossing Paste lately. It was the perfect accent for this Christmas Treasure Box DIY too!
The embossing paste dries to a durable finish that doesn’t need to be painted. It can be painted over if you want, I’ve done that on many treatments too, but for this one, I’m keeping the lovely soft white pearl finish as it.
Holding the stencil firmly, on the top of the dried decoupage paper, and using a small chip brush, I dipped the bristle tips straight down in the embossing paste and dabbed it on the box, through the stencil design, again working in a straight up and down motion with the brush. This stippling left a wonderful faux flocked look. But, unlike the old flocked papers from my childhood, this ‘flocking’, once dry, will not scratch off.
On the inside of the box, (I didn’t take many pictures of the process) I used the bottom section of the same block of paper and decoupaged it inside the top of the lid.
Because it is an inside fit, there wasn’t space to hang the edges over to sand trim after it was dry. So careful trimming of the paper before decoupaging it down was necessary for that section.
After the decoupage was totally dry, including a top coat of gel, I added some paint in a mix of Little Lamb and Azure, (which makes a yummy turquoise aqua color!) along with Sterling to continue the color of the paper to fill the inside lid where the paper scrap didn’t reach.
Then, I added more Smooth Embossing Paste, no stencil this time, just freehanded stippling. I just played with it, adding it over the top of where there was snow layered on the fence and along the bottom, covering up any trace of the edge of the paper with the embossing paste, creating a 3D snow effect.
On the inside box bottom I applied a vintage looking transfer from one of the many choices in this Classic Christmas transfer package along with a few little flower shapes I randomly painted with a bit of Bronze Metallic Paint.
Since I had my brush already wet with the Fusion Decoupage Gel, I just used it to paint a thin layer of protection over the transfer.
A couple other spots that I used the Bronze paint on, were the hinges and latch, along with the box lid and base edges. To avoid going crazy over making it perfect, I instead applied the paint with a dry brush approach…
I find that dry brushing gives it a worn feeling, suggesting that the paint has worn off a bit, and relieves the stress of it having to be perfect!
For a final bright gold touch, using my finger, (gloved finger) I wiped a bit of the Decor Wax, Eternal lightly over those areas painted with Bronze. The Eternal Decor Wax is amazing! It’s so easy to apply, just a little goes a long way!
The final step in this Christmas Treasure Box DIY was to add a little aged distressing.
First, using my sanding block, I lightly sanded all the edges of the box. I also lightly sanded any sharp points that had formed in the dried stippled embossing paste, just lightly knocking those down a bit.
Next, I added soft aged distressing with Fusion Ageing Wax. Super simple. Working in a small section at a time, I just brushed on a light line of the Ageing Wax using a flat artist brush along the edges and seams where I wanted some aging, (aka: faux dirt!).
Then, with one of the small dabbing brushes, I swirled over that line of wax, to soften it and blend it in.
Voila! Instant old dirt creating the vintage look I’m going for here.
Can’t forget the top…
The dabbing brush and ageing wax along the top edges and around the corners added a softened finish there too.
The Christmas Treasure Box DIY is done and I’m enjoying it in the living room, (the box is sitting on an antique bench my mom refinished when I was a small girl!) Our Christmas decor and ornaments are mostly vintage, so the vintage look of this box fits right into the mix!
The outside aging and faux flocked stencil is totally in-keeping with the stenciled ornaments I have.
The inside of the box wasn’t ignored and has coordinating designs and color from the outside of the box.
Here you can see how the free-hand stippled embossing paste makes a 3D snow effect on the inside lid.
So, what treasures am I storing in my Christmas Treasure Box, you ask?
TV remotes! LOL It looks so much better with them tucked away inside this box I may need to make another one less Christmas-y for the rest of the year.
Here are more posts from my DIY blog about redoing something: