In this blog tutorial I’m going to show you how I transformed a simple craft store wooden trinket box into a velvet lined spotted beauty ready for you to complete. As you can see, the box has a center square that has been left blank. At some point I will fill in the area, but for this tutorial we’re going to discuss how to get the box to this point. I will provide several ideas on how to fill the center of your square towards the end of the tutorial. Let’s get to work
- Writing tip
- Shading tip
- Rounded Heel Tip (can use knife edge style tip)
- Large Ball tip (optional – I didn’t use, but might make the spotted texture easier for you to create)
- Trinket Box – mine was purchased at a craft store and measures 8 x 8 x 2 inches (20.3 x 20.3 x 5.1 cm)
- 1/8 yard of velvet fabric or fabric of choice (can use flocking)
- Paint that is a shade or two darker than your fabric (Can also use color marker)
- Glue Stick (like used for scrap booking)
- Decorative Corners pattern attached (this is optional) Decorative Corners pattern
Below are pictures of the 3 pen tips I will be using in this project. You do not have to use the exact same one. The first picture shows the tips straight on and the second as they are turned on their sides. In order, left to right, they are the writing tip, rounded shader, and rounded heel. Colwood has a slightly different looking writing tip now, but the end of the tip is the same. Notice how thin the edge is on rounded heel, this allows for very fine, thin straight lines to be drawn.
STEP 1 – Prep the Box
This is a two part step and both are pretty quick and easy.
Step one – sand the outside of the box with 220 sandpaper to ensure it’s a smooth as possible. This includes the sides of the box. I did not sand the bottom as I was going to leave that unfinished, but if you decide you’re going to burn the bottom then sand it also.
Step two – paint the inside seams of the lid and box with a color that is a shade or two darker than your fabric. I used pan styled water colors to paint along all of the seams (corner edges). Also I painted a 1/4-1/2 inch wide stripe along the upper inside edges. If you are using flocking, then you will need to paint the entire inside of the box.
Why paint the seams since it’s going to be lined with velvet? The paint will help hide any spots where the fabric didn’t cover well along the seams. If using flocking, then it helps the flocking look denser/fuller.
Another question I get asked is why I used watercolor vs acrylic paint. My sole reason is that acrylics dry with a ‘plastic’ finish and watercolors do not. I’m concerned about the finish because glue bonds extremely well with wood, but not so well with plastic. If you don’t have paint, then use a color marker. I’ve used the standard red colored permanent marker before and it worked fine.
Let the paint dry for a minimum of 2 hours.
STEP 2 – Burn the Lips
While the paint is drying it’s the perfect time to darkly burn the lips or top edges of the lid and the box. From experience I know that velvet fabric burns really fast, smells horribly when it burns, and it gunks up the pen tip. As a result of experience I burn the top edges of the box and lid before I line it with velvet.
I used one of my larger shading tips, turned the heat on medium high (my burner goes to 10, so I had the heat between 5 and 6), and went along the edge burning it dark. I didn’t try to make the edge uniform in color as I just wanted a dark edge. It’s not going to get looked at that much if at all.
STEP 3 – Transfer the Decorative Corners
This is an optional step depending on how you want your trinket box to look. The provided ‘decorative corners’ pattern has several different types of decorative corners, so use one that is pleasing to you.
Cut out a large square around the corner you plan to use, flip it over and coat the back side with graphite (color over it with a pencil), then cutout the back corner of the pattern so the edges of the box below can been seen. The pattern is now ready for use. Place the pattern on a corner, line it up, tape it in place and trace over the pattern with a pencil. Repeat for the remaining corners on the lid.
Eventually I did decide that I didn’t like how the decorative corners looked on the sides of the lid, so ended up burning over them. The reason I didn’t like them was that my craft box has sides made of thin strips of pine. The pine was not uniform in color as each strip had a slightly different color and wood grain, and since the decorative corners would remain light in color the wood would really show through. A look I didn’t care for. Some of the pictures will show the side decorative corners in place before I removed them, so you can decide if you like them or not.
Heck, if you’re doing this tutorial, you might not like any of the decorative corners. If that is the case leave them out. Own this project and personalize it to your likes.
STEP 4 – Create the Center Frame Square
Using a ruler, make a few marks 1 inch (2.54 cm) from the edge of the box, then use the straightedge to draw the lines making a square.
Repeat a second time, but make this square 1/8 inch (0.32 cm) smaller than the first square. This 1/8 inch (0.32 cm) segment between the squares will be the frame mat.
Next start burning in the pencil lines. Here I’m using the writing tip for the decorative corners
To burn the sides I had to hold onto the box.
When I burned the lines for the squares I used the knife pen tip (Colwood actually calls it a rounded heel). I’ve recently discovered the usefulness of this pen tip for making fine straight lines. Anytime I need straight lines (buildings are a perfect example) this is the pen tip I use.
The key to burning straight lines is to move your arm slowly along the lines path while keeping your hand and wrist in a fixed position. This type of movement is a lot more steady than flexing your hand and wrist. Also, start burning the line at the top, or point furthest from you, and pull the pen tip towards you. It’s a good idea to lay the box on a flat surface (tabletop) and burn the straight lines in one continuous burn.
After you burn in all of the pencil lines, go over the surface with an eraser to remove any residual graphite.
STEP 5 – Emphasize the corners
After emphasizing the decorative corners, create a buffer line (thick line) along the center frame’s outer edge. This will make it easier to create the spotted texture as you won’t have to worry as much when you get close to the square edge. Since the rounded heel cuts a line into the wood, with light pressure I found that the shading tip easily followed that line.
Please ignore the spotted texture in the upper left corner as I will discuss that below in the next step.
STEP 6 – Create the Spotted Texture
I used the rounded shading tip for this step, but if you have a large ball pen tip it might be easier to use that. This is an easy step, but it’s a little monotonous and time consuming. You can cut down the time by increasing the pen heat and this will also make the spots much darker than mine.
All I’m doing is creating rows of spots. The spots do not need to be uniform in shape or color. Also the rows do not need to be kept in straight line. Mine wander all over the place. Use a piece of scrap wood and test out if you prefer orderly rows versus meandering ones.
To create a spot, position the pen tip in one place, lower to the wood, pause briefly, lift up, move to the right (or left) of the spot you just created and make another spot, repeat.
The duration of the pause depends on two things: 1) how high you have the temperature set (a higher heat means a shorter pause time), and 2) how dark you want your spots (darker means a longer pause time).
Continue this process of making rows until the border and sides of the boxes are filled.
Here is a close up picture of the spotted texture. Notice how there is a variance of color and line direction. This adds to the visual interest of the overall texture of the trinket box.
Here I’ve angled the box so the light really shows the how pitted the spots are. This texture not only looks interesting, it feels interesting.
Below are progress photos of me filling the top border and sides of the trinket box with the spotted texture. In all it took me around two hours to do.
STEP 7 – Burn the Decorative Corners & Frame Mat
If you decided that you didn’t like the look of the corners, then the first part of this step won’t apply to you. Skip down to the “Frame Mat” section before progressing onto step 8. Otherwise it’s time to burn the decorative corners.
Decorative Corners – – – First burn over the entire surface of the decorative corner turning it a very light tan color. Then go over the corner making the outer edges darker. Lastly go over the center of the corner and fill in, but leave a thin light band near the edges. I was trying to make it look like it was slightly curved and those were the highlighted areas. Repeat for the remaining corners.
First I left the edges of the corners white.
I didn’t like that, so I darkened them up.
Corners are done. I hated how the sides looked at the pine didn’t burn nicely. I ended up putting spots over the entire surface on the sides on the box.
Frame Mat – – – Carefully go along the edge of the inside square and fill in the small area between it and the larger square. Don’t worry about burning on the large square. Since it’s already been covered with dark spots, you won’t notice it, but take care not to cross the line and burn inside the smaller square.
What I’m trying to create is the impression that the spotted texture is like a thick fabric (or something along those lines) that was attached to the box. Not sure how successful I was at this, but that was my goal.
STEP 8 – Line with Velvet
At last, we’re ready to line the box with velvet or flock it. In actuality you can use any type of fabric you like, since I had this left over from another box I did I used it. This is a three part process – making a template, cutting the fabric, and securing the fabric.
Make a Template – – first make a template out of paper. Use any type of paper you like (copier paper is fine). Use a ruler to measure the inside dimensions of the box and then created a square out of paper cut to those dimensions.
Test the template for size by placing inside the box. Make sure it fits easily and that there aren’t large gaps.
Cut the Fabric – – use stick pins to secure the template to the fabric. Secure all of the corners and then cut the fabric along the edges of the template. Repeat so you have two squares of fabric.
Next cut wide strips of fabric for the sides of the box. The strips need to be slightly longer than the length of the box. They also need to be slightly wider than the depth of the box. I did not worry about making the edges of the strips perfectly straight or uniform. You will need 8 strips.
All done cutting fabric. I have 2 large squares and 8 strips.
I test fitted all of the pieces to make sure there weren’t any large gaps along the edges as I didn’t want the wood to show.
Securing the fabric – – Now it’s time to secure the fabric to the inside of the box. I worked one section at a time starting with the inside bottom of the box.
Apply a layer of glue to the bottom of the box. I used a glue stick rubbing it all along the surface of the bottom. Why use a glue stick vs liquid glue like Elmer’s? Liquid glues can easily soak through the fabric and when it dries it leaves a noticeable, hard, off-colored (almost like plastic) spot in the fabric.
Make sure to get the glue into the corners and seams of the box. I used a little silicone tipped stick to do this, but you can use almost anything like a wooden Popsicle stick, a bamboo stick, butter knife, etc. When applying the glue in the corners and seams be generous as this is the most likely area to peel up.
Place the fabric onto the glued wood surface and smooth away wrinkles.
Really press the fabric into the corners and along the seams. You want to make sure it really bonds there.
Repeat this process for the lid of the box.
Now it’s time to do the sides of the box. Again, it’s the same steps including applying glue to the edges. YES – I applied another layer of glue along the seam edges at the bottom as it’s important to make sure that all of the edges of the fabric have plenty of glue to keep them in place.
Here’s how the box looked after all of the side strips were adhered to the box.
Let the glue setup and dry for a minimum of 2 hours. I let mine sit overnight.
DON’T CLOSE THE BOX!! If any glue got on the lips (top edges) keeping the box open while the glue dries will prevent it from gluing shut.
Also don’t worry about the excess fabric as it will get trimmed away after the glue has dried.
Trim the excess fabric after the glue is dry and you’re all done with this step.
STEP 9 – Decorate the Center
This step I’m leaving to you.
- Wood burn a flower or other image in the center. I do have a tutorial for a rose, so you could use that one. You could also just use the rose bud from that tutorial and write a love poem.
- Decoupage a photograph onto the center (marriage picture, family portrait, etc).
- Glue a laser cut wood ornament in the center.
- Paint the center with chalk board paint.
- Transfer a section from an adult coloring book that you like and wood burn it.
- Draw a mandala pattern and burn it in
- Wood burn a message into the center: anniversary date, name, birthday, graduation date, poem, etc.
- Tole paint a design in the center
We’re done. Hope you enjoyed this easy tutorial and will find many opportunities to create trinket boxes. They make wonderful gifts. I’ve created several trinket boxes and know that I will make more in the future.
This project was burned on birch plywood craft box with pine sides, it measures 8 x 8 x 2 inches (20.3 x 20.3 x 5.1 cm). It took me 5 1/4 hours to create it. A reminder that I only put my time in as I get asked that question a lot. You may get this done faster or slower, but that doesn’t matter. What’s important is you did it and hopefully had fun while doing so.
July 7, 2016