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Photo Puzzle Box

Guest Jennifer Benjamin makes a family photo puzzle box. Follow these step-by-step instructions.

Project by Jennifer Benjamin from Miramar, Fla.

As a busy mom of three, Jennifer Benjamin of Miramar, Fla., doesn't have much spare time. But when she finds free moments, she retreats to her crafting room to work on unique purses, paintings and in this case, her two favorites: a photo puzzle box featuring her kids and a melted art glass pendant.


unfinished wood box with lid
1" unfinished wood blocks (16 blocks)
1 printed photo--printed to fit over area of blocks
1/2 yard of muslin fabric
1 bottle of fabric stiffener
acrylic paints in soft hues: pink, yellow, lavender, and chartreuse
1 book composition gold leaf
gold leaf sizing (adhesive) in spray form
soft brush
wax paper
rubber stamp for the background
clear embossing inkpad
gold sparkle embossing powder
heat gun for embossing
acrylic gesso
hot glue gun and glue
acid free paper adhesive
acrylic non-yellowing sealer in a spray
palette tray
paper trimmer
matte knife with new blades
roll of wire mesh
painter's tape
newsprint, drop cloth or craft paper to protect the work surface
1 Tbs. cornstarch (approximately)
leftover piece of muslin
rubber bands


1. To make a permanent bow for the box, cut four strips of muslin to make the bow: one strip to make both loops: one piece for the center knot and two pieces for the tails. The strips of fabric are cut to desired lengths of the finished bow that will accommodate the box size and twice the width of the finished bow.

2. Cut a strip of wire mesh long enough to wrap around box. Wrap mesh around the box to create a form.

3. Run the four pieces of muslin under water, then wring out. Lay strips flat on a work surface and apply the fabric stiffener generously to the fabric.

4. Work the stiffener into the fabric making sure it covers every inch. Create the loops folding in each raw side to meet down the middle lengthwise.

5. Bring each opposite end together in the center to create the loops and pinch the center together with a clothespin. Set aside.

6. Create a knot with the smallest piece of muslin. Fold the muslin inward down the center lengthwise. Remove the clothespin from the center and wrap this muslin around the loops to create a knot. Set aside.

7. With the remaining two pieces of muslin, fold down the middle as above, and place these tails across the top center of the wire mesh form. Position the muslin on opposite sides and drape down the sides and onto the work surface. Work the muslin ribbon to create the appearance of movement and a natural look. Set side on the wire form to dry overnight.

8. On the wood box, sand any rough edges smooth. Wipe off the dust.

9. Prime the entire box inside and out, top and bottom of lid with acrylic gesso. Let dry.

10. Paint the base of the box light pink. Move up the box and lid alternating colors; paint the top of the lid chartreuse green. Blend the colors as you move up, not allowing each color to dry so they blend into each other.

11. Paint the inside of the box and lid light yellow and let dry.

12. When dry, tape the outer edges of the box and lid and spray both with the gold leaf sizing. Remove tape.

13. Cut the 5" x 5" gold leaf sheets into workable strips with scissors. Line the inside of the box and the lid.

14. Burnish the gold with a very soft brush and blow away the tiny flakes of gold.

15. Embellish the box with a rubber stamp inked in a clear embossing inkpad. Stamp the outside flat edges of the box, then sprinkle with gold embossing powder.

16. Heat the image with an embossing gun until it becomes permanent.

17. For the puzzle, lay out the unfinished blocks in four rows of four blocks. Wrap with a tight rubber band to keep them together in a perfect square.

18. Brush on acid-free paper adhesive onto the top of the wood blocks. Apply the picture, cut 4" x 4", to cover the blocks. Roll out any air bubbles and set a heavy object on top of the blocks while they dry for several hours.

19. Remove the rubber band and fold over each row of blocks onto itself creasing the photo on top. This creates a guideline for cutting. Cut apart the blocks with a craft knife and spray the blocks and box with a protective sealant.

20. Print out another copy of the photo and adhere it to the bottom of the lid to use as a puzzle reference.

21. Paint the dried bow light pink and hot-glue it to the box top; do not hot-glue it to the sides.

Tip: To remove static, make a tiny sachet with a small piece of leftover muslin and cornstarch, tie with rubber band and swab over the area to be embossed so that the embossing powder will only stick to the stamped area.



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