Wednesday, May 19, 2021

B is for her BOX


At the end of April I introduced you to Annabelle. The three essential ingredients for this project are the book which I've had for a long time, the doll (which I don't have yet), and a box. Since B is for Box and that is the container for everything else, I decided that it was the first thing I should make.


This is an outrageously long post but I wanted to get B for Box done in one go. You can just scroll through and look at the pictures if you like.


Most people who make doll chests choose a flowery style and a pastel color scheme. I'm not a roses and ribbons kind of person and right from the start I knew my box would be a rebel. I'm making it from reclaimed materials and whatever I can find in my stash. 

This is a tea box. It was intended to hold various flavors of tea bags and someone had stained it a violent green colour.

I wanted a varnished wooden box (not painted) so the first thing I did was to try to sand the exterior. 


The color was tenacious and after removing as much of the stain as I could, I used dark wood stain over the remaining green. It turned out much better than I expected. 


Next,  I broke out the dividers inside and made a new layout for the box. The book will fit into the lid, and there needs to be a compartment for the doll.

Alice Nexdor (yay, I named her!) made sure that the doll space was the right size and I realized that I could utilize the left-over gap in the lid, so I cut wood strips for three more compartments.


At some point, I had the thought that the box needed tarnished metal trim to round it off. This line of thinking led me to a hugely satisfying day of snipping and hammering.

I made a paper template for a box label with a window in it, and a template for corners for the outside of the box. Then I rummaged in the recycling trash and cut up an old coffee can with my fantastic left-handed tin snips.


It was so much fun that I decided to make metal corners for the dividers inside the box as well. 


The only thing bothering me was that the metal looked too new and shiny. You can wait for time to tarnish it, or you can don a mask, gloves, and apron and dunk the metal in hydrochloric acid. Yeah, I'm the kind of person who keeps a handy supply of extremely hazardous chemicals under the kitchen sink. 


I did this outside, with the garden hose at the ready in case of a spill. At this point the stunt man usually says, 'Don't try this at home'.

By using extreme caution, there were no accidents while I was playing mad sientist. It only took a few moments for the acid to eat the shine off the metal, then I rinsed it with lots of water and dried it and I was in love with the grungy result.



For the label, I scanned and printed a smaller version of the book cover and put it behind a sheet of plastic. 


I nipped the edges of the metal with a pair of pliers to make sure there were no sharp edges, then hammered everything onto the box with tiny nails.


When it came to the interior of the box, my color scheme was going to revolve around an old piece of linen that was a curtain lining in its previous life. I found cream paint to match, and some pewter-colored paint to compliment the metal parts. I also needed wide and narrow ribbons. Does anyone have any idea why and when I bought 300 meters of 5mm cream satin ribbon? I certainly don't and I ended up not using it in this project.

The most difficult ingredient to find was going to be matching paper. Faded and floral was probably the best I could hope for. Imagine my surprise when I came across two sheets of scrapbook paper that look like vintage newsprint. I have no idea where that came from but I couldn't have asked for anything more perfect! 


(Here I want to pause for a moment and stick out my tongue at Marie Kondo. I bet she and all her cronies were going out of their minds with boredom in their empty apartments during the lockdown. It is a sensible apocalyptic survival strategy to have a stash of random crap stuffed in every available cupboard and drawer in your home).


To help to protect the book, I cut two strips of 12mm foam. They will be covered in linen and a ribbon will help to keep the book in place.


I used the paper to cover the bottom and inside of the lid of the box. The side walls are painted cream and the rims of the box and the lid are painted a pewter colour. 


The dividers are covered in authentic, stained and faded linen. 


People always complain about their cats interfering with their work but nothing beats a sudden, wet, dog nose bonking you under the elbow when your fingers are covered in glue.


Test fit. Now you can see where the metal corners fit inside the box.  


I attached the ribbon to the box lid. Now the book fits snug and secure. 


Anything you put in the three compartments below the book will fall out when you close the lid. For this reason, I padded the cells with thin foam and made them pretty with beads and sequins. This was made in a smiliar way to the mattress tutorial I wrote in January. I will put small items that can be pinned down in these compartments. 


I was going to put a removable tray only in the center large compartment but after thinking about all the things I want to put in the box and how best to display them, I realised that every compartment needs a tray. This caused heaps of extra work. First, I made suports for the trays with cardstock and glued them in place. 


Then I constructed the trays using mat board. I agonised for days over making some kind of handle to lift the trays out. I didn't want beads, and a traditional ribbon pull didn't appeal to me either. Then I came upon the idea of just adding an extra strip of card on two sides inside the tray. 

All you need is a little ledge for your fingers to grip the tray and lift it out. Genius! I loved it and turned it into a feature by painting the lifting strips with the pewter-coloured paint.


But now the remaining sides of the tray needed something more...

I found some narrow cotton lace in my stash that was perfect for the job. I know it is sacrilege to use vintage lace for a craft project but I have strong objections to yellow fabric. That colour only looks good on flowers. Out came the pewter paint and the result pleased me no end.



Here are some views of the finished box with all the trays. I even covered the bottom of the trays with scraps of the newspring scrapbook paper I had left over. I'm so happy with the way Annabelle's box turned out!




But wait, we're not finished... What is in the top left corner?


Ta-da de dum, it's a music box! The tune is 'Love Makes the World go Around'.

I glued the movement to the inside of the box before covering it with paper.


I drilled a hole for the key through the side of the box and moments later realised that it would interfere with the hinge of the lid. Yaargh! This was just one of many mistakes I made. Instead of trying to cover the hole, I decided to just leave it there. Future generations can wonder about its purpose.


I tidied up the edges of the holes with metal brads from my button box. I think they are parts of a press stud. The key is not pretty and it doesn't suit the style of the box. I might do something about that in future.


Making Annabelle's box was the most fun I had in a long while. It was marvelous to feel so inspired that I didn't want to stop working until it was finished. Now I have the vessel for her treasures, I can start making Annabelle and her accessories. I'm in no hurry though, other projects are also calling. I've created a post label, especially for Annabelle. Simply click on A is for Annabelle at the bottom of the post or in the sidebar at any time in the future to see all posts relating to Annabelle and the contents of her box.


Congratulations, you made it to the end of a very long post. As a reward, here are more pictures of Bonnie occupying the entire kitchen floor. She's the sweetest eight year old puppy around.




  1. Awww! Bonnie is adorable! I don’t think there is ever a better thing than a cold doggy nose. Well, any doggy nose actually. They’re all perfect. And good work on Annabelle’s box. It is a really fun idea well executed. And the finished product has character, rather than just being pretty (although it is pretty too but in a less flowery way). Maybe you could crochet all that ribbon into a knee rug??

    1. Thank you for your comments, Shannon! Hmm, crochet with ribbon, now there's an interesting idea...

  2. Love what you've done with your box, and your little label on the front has inspired me to make a tag label for mine. Really like the industrial look... so different to what most of us have done. Look forward to seeing how the inside develops. Must get mine out and have a good think about the contents.

    1. Thank you, Sandra. You were my inspiration to finally get this project off the ground. I'm thinking of making gloves and umbrellas next, but there are so many ideas clamouring for attention in my head, I feel quite dizzy.

  3. Gosh Megan, I am in love with your box! The transformation of that 'violent' green tea box is just fabulous - who would have thought! Well you did, clearly! I will have to try that metal-aging science experiment.
    I will be looking forward to see what happens next...
    Hugs to Bonnie and you.
    Anna X

    1. Thank you, Anna. Be careful with the acid but it is a very satisfying process and an excellent way to make rusty metal. Once the acid has eaten away the galvinizing layer, the tin rusts quite quickly.
      I've been busy with other things but I look forward to making some small accessory for Annabelle soon.

  4. Ha quedado preciosa, y me ha encantado todas tus explicaciones sobre el proceso !!

  5. What an amazing box to hold all manner of wonderful what you have created with items in your stash and your creativity. Wonderful! Cheers, Alayne

  6. Such talent and very inspirational, thank you

  7. I could make it short by using a 3-letter-word which says it all and this is: WOW!!! Your box rebel turned out awesome in every way, it's hard to believe that this simple painted tea box is the origin of this breathtaking Annabelle box. You've made an amazing job and I admire that you even had the courage to use heavy chemistry, having the hose at hand. *gulp* Everything is so well chosen, made with so much care and thoughts and the result is wonderful. Btw your Marie Kondo remark made me grin, right you are, being a hoarder too I know well about the happiness finding the right piece in your stash can bring... something my clothes did not manage so far. Have fun with filling your box - but make sure to have glue-free fingers every now and then to give your wet nosed darling some extra cuddles. ;O)


    1. Thank you, Birgit! I had so much fun with this. It's not often that I become so involved in the process of creating something that I can't stop. In a time when everyone is turning to laser cutting and 3D printing, I enjoy going back to the traditional methods for making things.
      Bonnie sends her regards.

  8. I like the way the box is coming together, Megan, and because I also love to do some invention, I liked the way you edited the window for the box with the acid, now this looks awesome!
    But how beautifully designed the box is than, using the silk ribbon, the vintage paper and the linen you gave it a such an amazing and lovely look, Megan, you did magic and created a true gem.
    I was very surprised to see you added a musicbox into the box, what an excellent find, and I loved hearing the sweet music/melody in the video!
    Speaking about gems: your Bonnie is one too, she has an adorable appearance, also when she was looking from under your arm at the table of what you were doing there: most interesting for a dog(gy) ;O)!
    Now I can't wait to see what you'll do with Annabelle and her accesories.
    Stay safe, take care, dear Megan!
    Hugs, Ilona

    1. Thank you, Ilona! As you can imagine, with such a large dog they need to be well trained or they are uncontrollable. She will never approach me when I'm eathing someting at the table or cooking in the kitchen because she knows that begging for food is strictly forbidden. However, there seems to be no way to explain to them when you are busy with 'work'. Any time when you are concentrating or have your hands full and don't give them attention, you can be the victim of a push with their nose.
      I look forward to publishing the next chapter of Annabelle's box but right now I'm busy with other things.

  9. Just the sweetest face and puppy dog eyes that Bonnie has. Loved looking at all of your creative work for your box!

  10. es un trabajo fantástico, te felicito!

  11. I am so late Megan, but did not want to miss the opportunity to tell you how much I love seeing you so inspired and letting that incredible creativity and ingeniousness pour out! You are taking a great idea to amazing places! So excited to see more!!! Keep having a ball with this! 💗

    1. Ha, Jodi, not as late as me replying! I have fallen miles behind with my blog comments.
      Thank you for liking the box, I look forward to sharing the next chapter with you.

  12. Yay for Annabelle! I have Tasha's wonderful book, which I love, so I am all about your annabelle box and everything that's going into it. My what an inspiration you are! How sweet your Bonnie is!

    1. Thank you for your kind comments, Mary! I'm happy to know that there are more people who appreciate and enjoy the little Annabelle book. I love your new Linnie Butts blog, btw. Such beautiful sewing.

  13. Dear Megan, your Annabelle Box is Amazing! I Love the aged look with the tea green stain just barely there! The metal corners are Perfect (where do you get such tiny nails?) and the interior.... WOW! The beautiful contrast of old newsprint and faded linen with lace and pearls.... This is an Antique in the making! I so look forward to seeing more... When will Annabelle make an appearance?
    I don't know why I have not been a follower of your blog.... going to fix that now! :)