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Silk Photo Box

Meighan Mise designs a keepsake silk box that's perfect for storing photos.

Materials and Tools:

binder’s board
silk cloth
contrasting fabric for pastedowns
1/2" wide ribbon
PVA glue
craft knife
metal straight edge
cutting mat
bone folder
plastic smoothing tool
blocks for weight
small foam roller for applying glue
foam brush
L-shaped ruler


1. Measure the depth of the photos to be included in the box. A depth of 2 inches comfortably accommodates about 150 photos. The interior dimensions of the box should be slightly larger than the dimensions of the photos so they do not to bend but will still fit snugly with about a 1/16-inch on three sides. This makes the interior dimensions 6-1/8" x 4-1/16" x 2".

2. Measure and cut the boards to create two trays and a cover.

  • These pieces include six tray walls (three for each tray)
  • two tray bases
  • two cover boards and a spine
Make sure to take into account the grain direction of the boards so that the finished grain on all pieces is running along the spine.

3. Measure and cut silk cloth and paste downs for both trays and the cover. Grain direction matters here, too. Cut two equal lengths of ribbon with enough length to tie a bow.

4. Assemble the tray walls to the bases by applying very small beads of PVA glue to the edges of the boards with a foam brush (image) pressing them together and making sure they are square.

5. Square up the boxes with an L-shaped ruler. Press them against blocks for weight to let them dry.

6. Once the trays are dry, cover them with silk cloth. Apply glue to the cloth and place the first tray wall down on the glued side about 5/8-inch from the side and bottom of the cloth. Slowly roll the tray over onto the cloth, gluing the second tray wall to the cloth. Smooth out the first glued side, giving it some pressure and jamming it in the corners so they aren't loose. Roll the tray again to glue the third tray wall to the cloth. Pick up the covered tray and smooth it on all sides. You should have about 5/8 inch extra on both head and tail ends and the bottom.

7. Turn the tray over so the bottom is facing up. Pinch the corners on the bottom of the box and cut the cloth away with a pair of scissors lying flat on the box at a 45-degree angle.

8. Release the side head and tail flaps by cutting a line from the spine edge of the cloth (one board's width away) down toward the wall. Cut a line from the outside fore edge of the cloth (all the way to the box) straight out. This should be done on both sides.

9. Cut lines on the outside fore edge wall cloth from one board's width in and back from the corner straight out, leaving two thin strips on each side.

10. Pull these toward the inside of the box and miter cut the strips in the corner.

11. Roll glue on the cloth and cover the remaining wall parts starting with the head and tail and finishing with the fore edge. Fold the fabric on the side walls to the inside of the tray, gluing them in place with a smoothing tool. Fold the fabric for the back wall to the inside of the tray and glue in place using a smoothing tool.

12. Roll glue on the paste downs and carefully press them into place. Dry the covered tray under weight.

13. Repeat steps 5-12 for the second tray, making this tray a board's width plus two cloth widths' smaller than the first tray.

14. Glue out the cover cloth and place the boards and spine on the cloth, making sure that they are correctly lined up and that each piece is spaced at a little more than two boards' width away. Let this dry under weight.

15. Measure spacing for the ribbons and make two slits in the cover with a chisel.

16. Carefully peel away a few layers of board where the ribbon will sit so it will lay flush with the board and glue the ribbon in place.

17. Glue the bottom of the large tray and press it into the cover, making sure to leave a square on three sides.

18. Glue the bottom of the small tray and slide it into the large tray. Fold the cover over top of the trays, adhering the small tray bottom to the cover.

19. Open up the box and smooth out the pieces, applying pressure. Let the box dry for 24 hours.

20. Place photos in each tray. Close the silk photo box and tie with the ribbon.

Meighan Mise, from Asheville, N.C, was working as an accountant in San Francisco and looking for an artistic outlet when one of her friends told her about a local book arts center. Meighan and her husband took one class, which led to more classes, and then to volunteering at the center. She felt right at home creating book arts as she previously made handmade cards and other crafty objects out of paper. She and her husband now live in Asheville, where they own their own printing equipment and studio.


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