The making of a box

In a post a while back I mentioned that the owner of the corner market has been kind enough to give me (by the dozen!) Swisher Sweet boxes. They are the most durable of all cigarillo boxes - sturdy enough to withstand paint, sanding and gluing, but without the complexity of a wood cigar box.

Textured backgrounds are my most favorite part of creating.
I've benefited from so many others' blogs,articles in magazines and books, workshops and tutorials... I decided to document and share my process.

After a light sanding and coat of gesso, spotty pumice gel and some molding paste, I sort through the (exponentially growing piles) scraps left from previous projects and I save even the smallest bit so I don't have to do much ripping. Golden's Clear Tar Gel is so great for gluing, a habit I formed long ago, though there is likely a better (cheaper!) adhesive?

It's actually cool to look at this photo and see history, tissue, strip from a wedding piece, part of a teabag folio, text and other scraps - always pieces of wholey paper, acquired from my wonderful friend Saluda Jane - that remind me of earlier projects.

Usually I start with one of the colors in the palette that I have in mind for the piece, but I decided that a warm gray would be interesting so I could go in any, or many directions. If anyone is interested in finding a good warm shade of gray let me know because I had to search!

I seldom use the red family and when I did, I quickly realized that I wanted to brighten it up, incorporate some contrast so next came the yellows - Qinacridone/Nickel Azo Gold, Naples and Mars Yellows...

By far the most appealing aspect of painting is that if you end up with what looks like leftover pizza, or just don't like the direction your color is taking, a wash of Titan Buff is an amazing remedy!


I took that opportunity to add another layer of papers and texture and went more in the bronze direction. Liquitex makes small bottles of coppery and bronze colors that are iridescent but not as shimmery as Lumiere.

This time around I ended up with a deep red and earthy brown and, though decidedly different from others I've done, I liked it after a bit of tweaking.

Next the treasure hunt, which given enough time and patience, can be rewarding all on its own. I see a scrap of paper - below to the left - that came from my pal Alicia at Altered Bits quite some time ago... though we are often fairly isolated as artists I find that being surrounded by friends' supplies, scraps, gifts and works of art is most companionable.

Narrowing it down is the hardest part; deciding what message or feeling I want to impart often requires quite a bit of thought, one process I try to avoid in the studio. It's a sharp departure from the playing with color and texture and I can easily get hung up on details that really don't matter, as design can be every bit intuitive. I think that is the question I'd most like to ask every artist I know - at what point do conscious choices move to the forefront... are they preconceived in sketches, or determined while beginning of the piece?

I layered papers, mica, ribbon and added a handmade paper heart, bits of papers and lace, a small spoon... this gift will be in the mail soon and hopefully the hours I spent will seep from the box, enveloping the recipient with my love!


~*~Patty S said…
Hi Patti ~ Really enjoyed seeing your creative process and am impressed by the large working space you have there too ;)

I am also a saver of every little scrap...using what I have handy works so nicely

I usually begin with an image or words or an idea (never a sketch)...but then the fun begins as I get into what I am creating and it speaks to me...sometimes I have to take a step back ... overnight even ... for the final touches

what you've created is SO rich and layered (and now we know why :)) AND what a fantastic gift too!

thanks for popping by to visit me...wishing you and yours happy August days
Linda said…
Interesting seeing how layering works, all that you put in. Great to see the process, how it all comes together to make a unique treasure.
She Who Doodles said…
great to see how you layered the box. it turned out great.
Curio said…
Really loved reading your post and seeing the images as your beautiful little gem came to life.
Gaby Bee said…
I always love coming here to see what you are creating. Your box turned out fantastic! Your work is just so inspirational. Everything you create is unique and beautiful.
Thanks for sharing the process how you layered the box!

Hope your day is going great!
Hugs, Gaby
Caterina Giglio said…
how fun to see your process and all the lovely layers! hope you are doing well ... xox
Anonymous said…
your boxes are all so lovely and i absolutely adore the color in this one. gorgeous!!! such a special treasure this is, that can hold other special treasures. thank you so much for walking us through the process you take to create them. i lovelove boxes and yours are so wonderful and unique.

Anonymous said…
p.s. i am interested in a good warm shade of gray. my fav is to mix some paynes gray and unbleached titanium but a "pre good" gray would be fabulous.
I came by way of Seth's blog and love your box! I find myself letting the piece tell me what to do next. I rarely begin with a preconceived notion. I think you do too from what I'm seeing...and it works for you. :)

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