This post was originally published on DIY Network’s blog Made + Remade in February 2013.
Sometimes I find gems at salvage shops. Not always, usually I have to squint really hard at an item to decide whether or not something is going to translate into something great, or actually be purposeful, or ask myself if it’s just going to take up space unnecessarily in my home. This simple wooden box was one of my latest finds, and one that I knew I might have for a long time:
It’s from a silverware collection, lined with tarnish-prevnting felt and designed to clasp forks, spoons, and knives when not in use.
Oh, and it was $3. Look hard and thou shall find beautiful things. What I also decided it would be great for is jewelry storage, the perfect little home for my silver necklaces and earrings that are quick to tarnish.
Keep on reading to see how I planned and executed a unique design for my new jewelry box:
I started by getting inspired, which is basically where any great project begins. Two things popped to mind that could make my jewelry box unique, contemporary, and personlized. First, I knew I wanted to employ my new $18 woodburning kit (a handy hobby tool that I used to personalize a manly Christmas present). Second, Jaime Derringer, the founder and executive editor of the popular blog Design Milk, has taken on a mission to draw a shape each day of this year. Each sketch she shares is mesmerizing, sometimes complicated in their own right but clean-lined, geometric, and unique, and I think you’d like them too–even this far into the year her collection of images present like a gallery (you can follow her progress at #ashapeaday2013 on instagram).
I set out to customize the box by first drawing a series of sketches, shapes, formations with a pencil and ruler. The winning design took inspiration from the way I painted my sunroom floor; purposefully off-center, I tweaked it to be a little more interesting and contemporary by adding additional paralleling lines.
After cleaning the salvaged box gently to remove residue and some inherent second-hand store grime, I transferred the sketch onto the box top surface by recreating it almost exactly with the ruler and a red china marker. The china marker is ideal because it showed up better on the finished surface than a pencil, and wasn’t as permanent as a marker might have been. (Note, the finer details I did on the fly because I didn’t think that the red wax could mark the surface as accurately as I could freehand with the burning tool.)
The wood burning tool can be a little hard to get the hang of, and to help give the tool a path to follow I also went over the lines with a ball point pen to break the finish of the wood. Its gouge is minimal, but would be enough for the point of the burning tool to follow. It is at this point that there is no going back with your intentions to change the smooth appearance of your canvas!
I haven’t used the woodburning tool to full capacity yet, so I toyed with a few of the 15 different tip attachments to see what worked best.
The tool works best when it’s hot. And not just hot, and not hot-hot, I mean, use it at it’s maximum burning potential after it has been plugged in to the wall for 15 minutes and is hot-hot-hot. It’s like an ironing torch, and it needs a while to heat up. Never fear though, if you start using the tool prematurely you can always go back over and reburn the areas that you already have passed. Slower passes burn quickly, while moving the instrument quickly allowed less contact time and less burn. This would be an important tip if you were, say, looking to shade something or produce a gradient effect.
It’s not a fast project, I’ll say that. Burning evenly takes time, patience, and constant attention. I sat hovered over my project for nearly two hours with a cotton rag in my lap to clean off the tip of the tool periodically.
The main design came along quite nicely. I love the definition of the dark burned wood, it’s as if western design met a contemporary lover.
When I added the extra paralleling lines, the design matched my vision and sketch.
I vacuumed the interior of the box out really well before I added any of my silver jewelry to it. It fits my modest collection of silver, and then some. Really, you should know that what you’re seeing in the next picture is all of about $70 of inexpensive accessories, I’m thrifty in the accessory arena too.
It’s especially nice to be able to consolidate jewelry, because wherein I had 4 small boxes and a hanging display of necklaces before, now I’m back to having a single box, a less cluttered hanging display, and a streamlined dresser surface.