I’m lucky to have a husband who shares my love of creating things. Our crafty and artistic pursuits are usually different. He makes things out of leather (check out his Etsy store here) like wallets, keychains and bracelets. He illustrates and does very cool typography (which is also for sale on some very cool items at Society6). And he makes stamps, buttons, and does a variety of printmaking things too.
So while we don’t make the same exact stuff, it’s the feeling of sitting together and making things at the same time that I love. Then, this weekend, we got the chance to work on a project together. Not only did I love this project, but I also thought that collaborating on its creation was really fun. Plus, if it was just my project, it never would have had such cool chalkboard lettering on it at the end!
The goal was to turn a cheap box into a cool looking and functional display for the buttons and stickers Matthew sells at a local coffee shop. We got this simple pine box at Hobby Lobby in the unfinished wood crafts section. It was $7.99, and we used a 40% off coupon to get it for just $4.80. We also bought some unfinished 2.5 inch wide boards for just under $3. (They would have been cheaper at Lowes)
I also bought a bottle of chalkboard paint for $3.49, minus another 40% coupon (I went back the next day when I realized I needed it). The rest of the supplies were already on hand, so my grand total was just under $10 for the entire project.
Step one was sanding. I bought a little Mouse sander for the board & batten project, which makes sanding SO much easier. The whole box was quite rough, so that wiping something like a paper towel or brush over it would have caught on the texture. I sanded until it felt smooth.
To age the wood, I used a vinegar and steel wool wash method from a tutorial from Lil Blue Boo. Hers was different than most, since she only soaked the steel wool for 20 minutes instead of 24 hours. The vinegar was still clear at that point, and I wiped it over the wood with the steel wool itself. The only thing I changed from her tutorial was to paint on the steeped tea first.
The aging process was much cooler than I had guessed from reading about it. The vinegar actually goes on completely clear. It doesn’t look like a stain at all. Then, as it soaks in and begins to dry, the wood starts to change colors. We did it before bed, and thought it looked great that night. Then, in the morning, the color was even better.
An added bonus that I didn’t expect was that the aging wash worked some magic on the box hardware too. It started out as very new looking chrome. After the wood was aged, I thought it looked a little out of place. The next morning, though, it was all rusty and the shine was gone. Keep this in mind if you don’t want your hardware to rust! But for me, it added to the illusion that this box had been around for quite a while. I love it.
We also aged the pieces of craft wood, to use as dividers in the box. It’s a good idea to stain everything first, before attaching the dividers, because the vinegar/steel wool wash won’t penetrate glue.
The next day, once it was all dry I decided how I wanted the dividers to look and made marks for Matthew to saw them. Then, using some E-6000 glue, I stuck them in place.
We wanted the box lid to serve as a sign for the whole display. So, first of all, it needed to stay open. I cut a piece of leather to the right size to leave the lid slightly tilted back. Matthew used some little screws to hold it into place on the right side. The leather bends inward when the box closes, so it isn’t in the way at all. One tip for doing this part is to use a leather punch to punch out holes in the leather for the screw. When I tried to screw directly into unpunched leather, it wanted to twist it all up.
Finally, I painted on the chalkboard paint inside the box lid. Which means that I didn’t really need to age that part of the box, by the way. I didn’t actually think of the chalkboard idea until after that was done. The wood was quite porous, so I had to do a lot more coats than the 2 that the bottle suggested. I think I did 5. It said to dry an hour between coats, so I would just check on it throughout the evening and paint on more.
And that’s it! I conditioned the chalkboard surface by rubbing chalk all over it and wiping it off. And Matthew wrote the pricing on with his fun hand lettering, and added an anchor on top with a hand carved stamp. Now it’s all ready to go. I think that it should attract more people to buy buttons and stickers than just a basket or bucket would. If it were me, I’d want to buy the box!