Memory Box

Crafter Louise McClure tells how to make a papier mache memory box.

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Louise McClure from Raleigh, N.C., has always relied on instinct and emotion in her art. This is evident today as she explains the process for creating a papier-mache memory box.

Materials and Tools:

papier mache box form
pencil
sharp craft knife
miniature wooden window form
2 large sheets of heavy gauge colored paper, 18" x 24"
fabric or leather scraps to cover outside of box (approximately 1/2 yard of 45")
craft glue or rubber cement
blunt knitting needle or similar tool
decorative scrapbook papers for inside of box and layering under images
vellum or acetate sheets of sayings, quotations, inspirational or funny messages
acrylic craft paints in colors of your choice to complement papers
rubber stamps, stencils, inks, embossing powders
various embellishments such as buttons, beads, ribbons, keys and bits of string

Steps:

1. Position the window on the front of the box in the desired location and trace an outline with a pencil.

2. Cut opening with sharp craft knife. Check the fit of the window in the opening, and adjust if necessary by sanding with a nail file or carefully trimming with your knife.

3. Place the box face down on the wrong side of fabric and trace around it (You will need to carefully turn it over to trace the front and back in one motion.) Add about a half inch to this dimension, and cut out the pattern.

4. Apply craft glue or rubber cement to the outside of the box and lay face down on the wrong side of the fabric. Smooth any wrinkles and then press in place, turning edges over as you go.

5. Use the craft knife or small scissors to carefully cut away the fabric from the window opening.

6. Paint the window in desired color with acrylic craft paint. Let dry, then apply second coat if desired. You may want to seal it with an acrylic craft sealer. Louise started with a base coat of brown, let it dry and applied a coat of red for an "antique" look.

7. Paint the inside of the box with acrylic craft paint. Louise used a metallic silver.

8. Select decorative paper to cover the inside of the box bottom and sides. Use scissors (deckle-edge scrapbooking scissors give a wonderful torn edge look) or a craft knife to cut the image to fit inside box. Glue in place with rubber cement or craft glue.

9. Glue window in opening on the face of the box.

10. Measure inside dimensions of box height and width. Determine number of pages you desire for your foldout section. Multiply this number by the interior width of your box for the total length.

11. Mark these dimensions (height and total length) on the 18" x 24" sheet of heavy craft paper, and use a yardstick as an edge while carefully tearing the paper along the length. This is the strip that you will fold back and forth to create the accordion form. Louise usually glues two strips together back to back for additional weight and texture in the foldout section.

12. Mark fold lines on the strip (inside width dimension of the box), and score lightly with a blunt knitting needle or similar tool. Fold along the score lines.

13. Lay out photos and cards in a story-type progression. It could be one of family history, vacation, special occasion or any other event — just choose a timeline that is significant to you.

14. Select decorative scrapbook papers to enhance the images. You will cut these slightly larger than the image to layer underneath and create a frame with pattern or color. You can use a craft knife or paper cutter for straight edges or decorative edge scissors for a variety of edge shapes and patterns.

15. Glue image to decorative paper with rubber cement or craft glue.

16. Position the image/paper "sandwich" on page of accordion fold insert and glue in place.

17. Select an inspirational saying, funny note or sentiment from sheet of scrapbook paper to complement the image. Other options are to create your own text on a computer and print it out or write your own notes in metallic or colored gel pens.

18. Add embellishments from your collection such as buttons, ribbons, small tokens and tags to add dimension, texture and color. Be sure to use suitable craft glue for the type of embellishment you are using (silicon glues work best for heavy items, plastics, glass and metal — just check the manufacturers guidelines for suggestions).

19. Charms and tokens can also be attached with string, ribbon or wire. Louise punches a hole first, then adds a grommet in an interesting color or shape. She then uses a grommet setter and hammer to attach it in place. Make certain you have a hard surface underneath (she uses a small anvil) that won't be marred by the technique. The grommet acts as a reinforcement point in the paper and allows the charm to move freely.

20. You can also add layers of decorative paper and charms to the top of the bundle, as it will be visible through your window on the box.

21. Cut a length of cord, ribbon or twine four times the circumference of the folded section. Attach to one end with a grommet. Wrap around the bundle three times and loop to close.

22. Insert bundle into the memory box to complete.

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