Friday, November 10, 2017

The Humble Shoe Box: Upcycled and Transformed

When I saw some gorgeous yellow embroidered floral trim on the Gwen Lafluer Studios website, my inner flower-child cried out for it. Yellow is my happy color, my "go-to" color, and I visualized wearing it on the bottom of my faded jeans, stitching it to a peasant shirt, or combining it with my own fabrics for a decorative pillow cover. All of those ideas would have been beautiful...but impractical. I didn't want to get the trim dirty or ruin the shimmer with wear and tear or repeated washing. It was also a little scratchy, so it wasn't quite right for my adult post flower-child wardrobe or to rest my head on.

So, I thought a little harder, and realized it would be just right for up-cycling a shoe box. I have been painting, collaging, stamping, stenciling and decorating the humble shoe box for years. As luck would have it, an empty box on my design table was just the right size for the gorgeous yellow trim. Sadly, I hadn't ordered enough to cover the whole box, so I rummaged around my stash and auditioned a few fabrics, ribbons and papers until I found a combination that I liked. I also discovered that Gwen's gorgeous patchwork sari silk trim went nicely with the yellow trim. I mixed both trims with an embroidered sheer sari silk remnant that I had been hoarding for years.

I started by draping the fabric and trims over the shoe box and lid, taping it lightly to see how it looked. I snapped photos as I went along so I would remember what worked and what didn't.

"Auditioning" fabrics, which are lightly wrapped on the shoe box.
Once I decided on the arrangement, I took all the pieces off the box and started painting. The box was red and shiny, and I could see the color peeking through the sheer white fabric, so I knew the lid needed white gesso. It took a couple coats to tone down the red.
Covering the shiny red box with white gesso.
 After the white gesso was dry, I used Golden heavy matte gel to adhere the white sari silk to the box top. I carefully wrapped it around the edges and glued it in place. While that dried, I set to work on the bottom of the box.
After the gesso dried, heavy gel medium was used to wrap sari silk scraps around the lid.
 Where the lid and top of the box met, I painted yellow. I knew that I couldn't use anything thick above the wide (2.75") yellow trim or it would be hard to close the box.  Next, I applied heavy gel to the bottom 3/4 of the box and added the yellow trim to the front and back. I used heavy gel at the edges of the trim to prevent fraying.
The top was painted yellow to compliment the trim, but allow the box to close easily.
While auditioning the fabrics and papers, I had thought I would use a thick fabric collage of "scrappy" fabric on the sides, but changed my mind and used some commercial scrapbooking paper instead.
An India-inspired commercial scrapbooking paper was used on the box sides.
 The sheer white silk fabric on the top wasn't quite wide enough to cover the whole left and right sides of the box top, so I auditioned a bunch of ribbons and fabrics, finally deciding to layer some wide orange grosgrain ribbon with an India-inspired orange and pink plaid ribbon.

Two types of ribbon decorate the box side lid, complimenting the paper below.
While the bottom dried, I attached the sari patchwork trim across the lid vertically, which nicely covered the join mark where the two pieces of white silk met. I wanted to keep the softness and loft of the sari patchwork, so rather than gluing it in place and risking it getting flat, hard or discolored, I attached it by poking a hole (with an awl) through the fabric and lid edge, then pushing a large brass brad through and flattening it on the inside. The brads add to the decorative effect and are also very strong.
An awl was used to poke a hole through the cardboard and fabric.
The patchwork sari silk was attached to the lid with brass brads.
The two trims are united with a dangling Turkmen Jewelry component.
 An important part to my design was a dangling jewel, which came as part of my order of Going Global Turkmen Jewelry Parts. It was just the perfect adornment for the box, and although it is fairly small, works nicely to unite the fabrics and colors of the top, bottom and sides, adding just the right bit of magic and mystery to what used to be an ordinary shoe box. I hand-sewed it to the sari patchwork fabric using red thread.

Side view of the finished box.
Below is a photo of my newest storage box, sitting atop some of the others I have made over the years. With all my art supplies, jewelry components, paper scraps, fabric scraps, photos, and ephemera, I am sure I will fill up my newest storage box very soon!

Other boxes in my collection were covered with newsprint, stamps, stencils, craypa, fabric, and painted deli paper.
Like the trims I used? The great news is that you can get 10% off on any trims on Gwen's website during the month of November...just in time to create some up-cycled shoe boxes to use for holiday gift-giving! Please also check out what the other Artist Tribe members are making in November using the gorgeous trims that Gwen Lafleur carries on her website. You can see them on Gwen's blog, or click here to see all the Artist Tribe projects.


Jackie PN said...

Perfect box for any and all other fabulous trims you have in your stash!
OMGorgeousness Linda!! This is just exquisite!
Brilliant idea using the brads to hold the Sari ribbon- they make the perfect finishing touches! And talk about clever...the use of your Turkman part dangling, well, I just adore the beautiful box and everything about the way you assembled it- outright fabulous,my dear!
Thank you for such an inspiring piece as well as post! I was right there with you in the hippy inner child convo! heehee
Have a super weekend!

SandeeNC said...

Love your covered shoebox, it's beautiful! Great idea on attaching the Sari trim with brads! So creative!!!!!!!!

Gwen Lafleur said...

This is just gorgeous! I love the combination of trims you used and they look so great with the fabric from your stash! So cool to see your process and how it all came together. What fun to have such beautiful storage boxes for your studio! Love it!

Kate Yetter said...

Oh my! These trims are so exquisite! I love how you turned an old show box into a work of art. Something I would definitely love to have sitting around in my house. Beautiful!

Lynda Shoup said...

Linda, this is beautiful! So many lovely touches. I especially loved the idea of attaching with brads! I had some of that same concerns about using adhesive and your idea has opened a whole new world to me!!! You certainly have a lovely stash and it is fun to see you combining it and using it is such beautiful ways. That Turkmen jewel is perfect. Almost forgot to write how much I love the way you place the spiral of the trim on the top so that it leads your eye to that jewel. Brilliant.