Thursday, September 9, 2010


Almost every colonial kitchen contained round wooden nesting boxes, or pantry boxes. These boxes were often painted and used for storing spices, grains and flour. In the 19th century, clothing-makers adopted the shape for holding collar bands. Early American wives soon learned that these band boxes made beautiful and convenient storage boxes when covered with decorative fabric or wallpapers. Today, antique band boxes are considered a rare and sought-after collector’s item. It’s easy to make your own covered boxes for home storage.

Lay your box lid and bottom down on fabric or wallpaper, draw around it, then cut out about 1/2" from the circle...spread modge podge on the box, then glue the circle on, then glue the edges down. Next measure the side of the box, the height and add about 1/2", and measure the length around it, adding a 1/4" or so. Turn one edge under 1/4" and iron to hold it. Glue that piece on the side, with the turned under edge on the bottom of the box for a finished edge, and the other edge over the top of the box, glued on the inside (you could probably add a bit more, and turn that under as well, but I usually cover the insides with paper to hide it) the rim of the lid the same way. After it's dry, you can sand it, stain it, etc. If you want to cover the inside, I normally will tear paper in large pieces, then glue that in with the modge podge.


These are paper mache boxes that were painted, striped and distressed.

First, give all the boxes a good solid base coat of black.

Pick the two colors you want to use on your boxes. Select the LIGHTER of those two colors to paint over the black paint. I recommend using Americana Acrylic Paint.

On to the stripes! Take your secondary (darker) color and select a paint brush that is the width that you want your stripes to be. Note that the stripes will NOT perfect. If you want them to be perfect you can tape them off or use a stencil. I prefer the slightly crooked ‘free hand’ painted look. A lot of the imperfections in your stripes will ‘disappear’ when you distress your item later.

When you’ve got 3/4 of the way around your box with the stripes, pause and analyze the amount of space you have left and estimate whether you are going to have to ‘adjust’ your stripe width in order to get them to ‘match up’ with your first stripe. It’s better to SPACE the stripes a tad farther apart than to make them closer in order to fit the space.

Horizontal stripes are harder to do. But again, the ‘crookedness’ of the stripes will blend in with the distressing step.

Once all your paint is dry, it’s time to sand and distress your boxes. A COARSE sanding SPONGE is recommended.

If you want to add some designs to the boxes, then use FOAM (not rubber!) stamps and water based acrylic craft paint for your designs.

LIGHTLY load your stamp with paint (too much paint will cause your stamp to SLIDE when you press it to your box). You will also get TWO stamps per paint loading. The second one is lighter, but that just means less sanding off later!

After your stamped on designs are dry, lightly hand sand them with a coarse sanding sponge to distress them.

If you decide your box needed some DOTS in addition to the stamped design, then use the end of a paint brush, dipped into paint. You can make three dots with each paint loading. Each dot comes out slightly smaller than the previous one.

The ‘weathered wood wash’(water based stain) is just brushed on over the entire sanded box and lid to give it a nice aged look.

Once the wood wash is dry,add a coat of MATTE varnish to seal and protect the surface.

If you want to add some wood knobs to the boxes you will need to find the center of the lids. To find ‘the center’ for the knob placement, trace the lid onto a piece of newspaper. Cut out the circle to the INSIDE of the tracing line. Fold the paper circle into fourths, and cut a tiny snip out of the center. Placed the opened paper circle into the lid and use a pencil to mark the center.
Drill a tiny hole at the center mark and screw the wood knob on from underneath.

I use neutral paste shoe polish........goes on clear and gives a nice shine and protection to the boxes. The neutral shoe polish puts a nice soft shine to the paper mache boxes.......and it protects them to. I just buy it at Wal-Mart in the round cans.......just regular old shoe polish. I have also used the black paste shoe polish in a can to.......and I like the effect it gives the boxes to. It's easy to apply and buff off.


Unknown said...

You are my hero!!You know how to do everything!I lOVE your blog!!It is my favorite!!!!Blessings to you!!!Candi/Primgirl7

Pokey said...

I am bookmarking this page, Sue. I have the boxes, just not the time but I want to!!!

nancy huggins said...

I Love decorating papermache boxes so thank you very much for the great idea and directions. That might be something I could make for Christmas gifts that won't cost a lot to mail since I have to mail most of my gifts.
It was so nice of you to share the ideas and the pictures are awesome.

Jacqueline said...

your boxes are great... thanks so much for sharing the process.

Primitives By The Light of The Moon said...

AWESOME information! Thanks for sharing!

Unknown said...

I never knew where the term "band box" came from. That history lesson is going in my Genealogy / History file. So these band boxes were the fore runner to "Tupperware and Rubbermaid"... how fun. Love the suggestions for finishing the boxes, can't wait to try these. Thank you so much for sharing all your skills and knowledge.