Assembled Boxes

After a huge studio clean out I realize that I still have to live to be about 1,000 years old to put a sizable dent in my accumulation of stuff. A stashbusting project beckons.

This project was inspired by the assemblage boxes of Joseph Cornell. His work has influenced more than one of us. Check out his art here.

This is more of a guide than a tutorial and I am breaking a blog promise I made to myself to only use materials that are widely available. I am assuming that most of you have drawers, closets or entire rooms of things and can follow along, improvising when necessary.

small, shallow box (a cigar box is ideal)
old book
foam core board
hardware cloth
small brads
Mod Podge
Black spray paint
Goop glue

paint brush
old credit card
tin snips or strong scissors
exacto knife
small hammer
Tear out the pages from an old book and using Mod Podge, glue the pages to the sides of the box (mine are old sewing machine drawers), lining one edge of the paper along the outside edge of the box and allowing the other edge to overlap onto the back. Measure the back of the box and cut out another piece. Glue in place. If you need to piece 2 sections together, tear the edges that abut each other as the feathered edges blend better than cut ones and the intersections don't show as much. Smooth in place with an old credit card. There may be some wrinkles but you can disguise them in subsequent layers or chalk them up to the handmade look.

I found that clip art illustrations made a more interesting background to work with. I was lucky that my book was full of clip art pages, but if you don't have this, cut out individual clip art and collage it to your background book pages.  The Graphics Fairy is a good source of clip art.  

The next step is to divide the space using book page covered foam core board cut into appropriate sizes and glued into place with hot glue. Vary the sizes of the sections for some added interest.
To vary the depths, I cut foam core board to fit a small section then wrapped it in an old map. I layered pieces of foam core scrap and glued them to the back of the selected section. My map-covered piece was then glued to the scraps making a shallower area to work with.
Look for items to fill the smaller sections. For me it was wooden spools of thread and small bottles. I downloaded labels from The Graphics Fairy here and glued them onto the bottles with Mod Podge. I punched out black butterflies using a Martha punch and glued them onto the old maps. Glue the heavier items with Goop.
Next, I cut out a piece of hardware cloth (that wire mesh available in any hardware store) to the size of one of the sections. Trim the piece so that no little points are sticking out and make it big enough so that you can attach it to either the wooden edges of the box or the foam core or both.  Spray paint the cloth black and using small brads, nail the hardware cloth to the edges of the section, capturing the cloth with the heads of the brads. (oops - put your items inside before you attach the cloth) I dipped the points of the brads in Goop before I stick them into the foam core to insure adhesion. I also held the brads with needle nose pliers while nailing them to save my fingers from hammer bashing.
Joseph Cornell filled many of his boxes with paper birds but I had some reproduction paper dolls in my stash and decided to use them. I cut out foam core in the approximate shape of the dolls (not an easy task) and glued the dolls to it, making sure that the board was smaller than the doll so that it was invisible. I then layered pieces of scrap foam board on the back of my dolls so that they could sit proud of the background. I glued the whole mess to the back of the box in the largest section. Tin bird pins were added for color.

Whew, 3 boxes down, eight million to go. Maybe then "Hoarders" won't find me and put me on their TV show.


C'est Magnifique said...

OMG! Those are so beautiful! I love everything about them!!


Mod Podge Amy said...

Your boxes are fantastic - I agree with Tania above me. I love everything about them!

House Revivals said...

These are so beautiful -- I just adore anything cobbled together and with old book pages! Love, love, love this!
~Amanda said...

Very awesome! Where have you put these things?


Cindy Adkins said...

Oh my gosh, these are amazing...totally gorgeous!!!

Krafty Kat said...

Beautiful work- love the reproduction paperdolls! I like that you used old sewing machine drawers as well, adds to the vintage feel. Thanks for linking up to Gettin' Krafty With It!

Krafty Kat said...

BTW, I checked out Joseph Cornell's works- just amazing! I can definately see his influence in your box art.

Mary said...

This is an awesome post, I would really love it if you linked this up to Masterpiece Monday at Boogieboard Cottage as well! Have a nice Week! Mary :O)

creativejewishmom/sara said...

wow, these are great! I always loved Joseph Cornell too, and I guess it helps to have loved his green parrot to understand your little birdy reference. Thanks so much for sharing on Craft Schooling Sunday!

Jill said...

FANTASTIC!! What a lovely idea!

Thanks for linking up to A Round Tuit! Hope you have a lovely week!

Jill @ Creating my way to Success

sweet european dreams said...

Wow. I have a few things placed into an old drawer, but I never (and I do mean never) would have thought to take it this far. These are just beautiful and the use of the paper dolls are perfect for these. Now I'm headed over to the Cornell link. Glad I found you today via Penny Pinching! -diane

Kathy said...

This is quite awesome! I can see that there are endless possibilities.

Linda said...

Cornell boxes have always fascinated me. Yours are lovely!

Melissa said...

Those look great! Thanks for sharing over at Tuesday Tell All.

Carrie at In the Hammock Blog said...

wow, these are so gorgeous!! very creative use of the boxes!

Ginger said...

Beautiful! Thanks for linking up to Mad Skills Monday!

Teresa Choplin @ tchoplin2009(at)gmail(dot)com said...

WOW! I love your blog,Following from the blog-hop. I'm your newest follower. Please take time to follow me back, thanks.

Kathleen said...

These are terrific. You really have my "wheels" spinning. Thanks for sharing this.

Alicia said...

Oh wow, I am in loooove with these. I'm looking forward to seeing more of what you do!

Gengen said...

It is pretty and creative. A new follower form Thrifty Thursday bloghop. See you in my page.

AllieMakes! said...

Those are very lovely! What a great job! Thank you for sharing!
Thanks for linking up to Making It With Allie! I can't wait to see what you have for next week!

Deb said...

I just found your blog and so happy that I did. I think your box is fantastic.

Meg said...

WOW! So beautiful!!!

Miri said...

Delightfully charming!

Audrey Pettit said...

What a fun project! I love the vintage sewing drawers you used, and love the book paper. And what fun images from the Graphics Fairy.

Colleen @ MuralMaker&More said...

Oh, wow! I love the vintage look. And I'm not even into vintage, ha!

Would love for you to drop by and link up to Passion for Paint this weekend.

Erin@likegrandmas said...

So creative and cool!

Vicki said...

Gail - Loving the dividers you created here. These are gorgeous!

Debra@Common Ground said...

These are sooooo cool, I'm going to feature you next week on VIF! LOVE them, thanks for the link to the artist. I'm going nuts to try one of these myself!!

Courtney ~ French Country Cottage said...

Oh these are absolutely darling!! I love that idea! The paper inside and the sweet paper dolls- fantastic!! Thanks for sharing at Feathered Nest Friday! :)

Miss Sandy said...

LOVE these! I too love the work of Joseph Cornell, you did a great version of his inspiration.

concretenprimroses said...

They are lovely!

Ann said...

These boxes are gorgeous. What a splendid idea to use an old sewing machine drawer too!! I love the small section with thread.
Ann-Tin and Sparkle

Sachiko said...

Such creative and gorgeouse projects! I love them!

aquariann said...

I remember learning about Joseph Cornell in Art History class and being so delighted that we share the same last name. What a neat box!!

Btw, I am stopping by from Seasonal Saturday and hope you'll join my Winter Blog Hop!

Pamma said...

As usual, you have absolutely wonderful ideas and execution. Thanks so much for sharing and LOVE your site!

Connie said...

Wow! These are so amazing and I have at least four of the sewing machine drawers. My sewing room wall need something new and unique on them and this is what it will be. Thanks for the great idea. This will be fun!

Pamela Rosenberg said...

I am so glad I found you. Your posts never disappoint. I did feature this one on BeColorful's Motivated Monday. I had a hard time deciding between this and the lamp crystal jewelry pendant.
Thanks for keeping me inspired and motivated.

Katsui Jewelry said...

That is a true piece of art!

Krafty Kat said...

Featured this tonight! You can grab a featured button if you like!

Theresa said...

Really beautiful. Theresa xoxo

Crystal said...

wow those are really pretty.

Nicolette @ Momnivore's Dilemma said...

Love the mix of media and the vintage feel...

Thanks for linking this up to Creative Juice last week...{hope to see you up should open tonight once my monsters are in bed!}


freckled laundry said...

Beautiful! Love the vintage style and creativity. Thank you for sharing with air your laundry Friday!

carla said...

Such an excellent idea! I have a small collection of paper dolls but have been stymied on how to display them. For the originals, I won't glue them in (although it would be fine for photocopies); and such an interesting background.

Holly said...

Another brilliant idea from you. These are charming and lovely.

Jenn Erickson said...

I saw your post featured over at Tickled Pink at 504 Main and absolutely had to come see it for myself. Amazing! Your boxes are so artfully done and beautifully put together. Love them, truly! I feel inspired to delve into my craft stash and bric-a-brac surplus to create some beautiful boxes of my own.

I'm also excited to check out Joseph Cornell. Thanks!

Jenn/Rook No. 17

Cindy said...

This is fascinating! I'm so inspired! Thanks for sharing your great ideas!

MadBirdDesignsUK said...

Love this tutorial, very clear instructions and great pictures. Can we do a stash swap??????? At least then it would be something new to look at, move around and play with. :-) Joan

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