Tuesday, April 5, 2016


Happy April everyone!  Spring has sprung and I for one find myself in a MUCH better mood when I have sun on my face, hear birds chirping their sweet songs, see trees budding out and new little flowers stretching towards the sun.

This month's Creative Carte Blanche art adventure is brought to us by our Graphic 45 Guru, Annette Green.  She has challenged all of us to take a plain old cigar box and transform it into something wonderful.  
Last month, I created a painted wooden 5x7 frame using corrugated paper, lace and metal to create a sweet little Spring themed home decor piece.  You can see that HERE.  I'm still loving making Spring themed pieces so my altered cigar box features softer pink tones, embossed leaves and sweet little butterfly babies.

This really was not a difficult project to make.  It is just done in layers and needs a little drying time in between.  From start to finish and not working on it constantly, this project took me two days.

Here is the complete pictorial tutorial for you.  Again, I typically use DecoArt Media products because I love them;  love the results I get with them and I am on their Mixed Media International Design Team.  But you can use whatever products you like or work for you. 

Supplies you will need for this project:

  • Cigar Box - this one happens to be approximately 5 1/4" x 7 1/4" but any size would work
  • Computer images of the little girl, boy and "How to Know the Butterflies" cover sized to fit the box top
    Computer images of butterfly wings sized to fit the little girl and boy
  • DecoArt Media White Gesso
  • DecoArt Media Matte Medium
  • DecoArt Media Titan Buff Fluid Acrylics
  • DecoArt Media Burnt Umber Fluid Acrylics
  • DecoArt Media Paynes Grey Fluid Acrylics
  • DecoArt Media Yellow Oxide Fluid Acrylics
  • DecoArt Media Transparent Yellow Iron Oxide Fluid Acrylics
  • DecoArt Media Titanium White Fluid Acrylics
  • DecoArt Media Quinacridone Red Fluid Acrylics 
  • DecoArt Media Metallic Gold Fluid Acrylics
  • DecoArt Media Blue Green Light Fluid Acrylics
  • DecoArt Media Antiquing Cream-Raw Umber
  • DecoArt Media Modeling Paste
  • DecoArt Media Crackle Paste
  • DecoArt Media Ultra-Matte Varnish (optional)
  • Workable Fixative spray sealer
  • Old book text and sheet music
  • 2 ply napkin with the extra paper layers removed (floral print)
  • Craft sticks for picket fence (I found them at Hobby Lobby)
  • Chestnut Roan Cats Eye Ink Pad
  • Neocolor II Watercolor Crayons
  • Detailer Water Brush
  • Glossy Accents
  • Dylusions large leaf stencil
  • Spare Parts metal legs
  • Spare Parts metal handle
  • Spare Parts metal tab
  • Little paper flower on stem
  • Baby wipes
  • Vintage laces
  • Hot glue gun and glue sticks
  • Excelsior (brown colored)
  • Adhesive pop dots
  • Misc. wire
  • Cardstock to cover inside of box (I used Pink Paisley's Butterfly Garden)
  • Archival ink pad-Jet Black
  • Words for Thought Tim Holtz stamp set
  • 18" and 1/4" Scor Tape
  • Tim Holtz Mirrored Stars
  • Small stick and scrap of ribbon
Now let's get started on the altered cigar box!!

I chose a cigar box to alter.  This one measures approximately 5 1/4" x 7 1/4".  I knew that I wanted to continue my Spring theme so I selected some vintage images to use on the top of my cigar box and sized them accordingly.  I will share these images with you at the bottom of my tutorial.  I also decided to make my own little picket fence behind the children so I used several little wood sticks purchased at a large craft store to do this.

I painted a coat of DecoArt Media Gesso completely over the outside of my cigar box.  Gesso is a fairly opaque base and will give the surface "tooth" to grab whatever I choose to add to the outside of my box.  Let it dry thoroughly.

Next I added vintage German book text and sheet music using DecoArt Matte Medium.  It is used as a glue and a sealer.  It goes on clear and dries clear.  Brush the gesso'd surface, add the papers then brush over the top of them with Matte Medium to seal them in place. Let dry.

I used some flowers from two ply napkins (all of the back papers removed) to embellish my cigar box top.  These added a softness and sweetness.  Simply tear the images you want to use out of napkins, brush some Matte Medium on your surface where you will add the images.  Lay the images in place and brush over them with the Matte Medium to seal them in place.  Let dry.

While the cigar box top was drying, I painted my wooden sticks with a basecoat of DecoArt Media Titan Buff Fluid Acrylics and then distressed them using my finger and DecoArt Burnt Umber Fluid Acrylics on the edges and randomly on the sticks.  Let dry then cut off the rounded lower edges of the sticks.

To add a more vintage look to the cigar box top, I distressed it using these DecoArt Media Fluid Acrylics colors and my fingers.  First I began with a light pink made from mixing Quinacridone Red and Titanium White.  Next I added some Yellow Oxide to give more of a sepia tone.  Finally I accented around the edges to age and darken them with Burnt Umber and finally a light touch of Paynes Grey just at the edges.

Print out the vintage images of the children onto semi gloss photo paper.  (I used my inkjet printer to do this). Cut them out and colorize them using Neocolor II Watercolor crayons.  (You could also use colored pencils or some other medium).  I love doing this technique as it really does bring "life" to the babies as you are coloring them.  Adorable!!

Next I lined up my picket fence bottom along my Tim Holtz ruler, spaced the pickets and then ran a bead of Glossy Accents across the back side of the cross fence pieces.  I carefully laid them in place and let them dry thoroughly.  

Using Dyan Reaveley's large leaf stencil, I first used DecoArt Media Modeling Paste to scrape through the stencil using a straight edge hotel key.  When that was dry, I laid the stencil back over the leaves and scraped a layer of DecoArt Media Crackle Paste over some of the leaves.  Then using my finger, I randomly added some Crackle Paste to the sides of the cigar box to add more aging and texture.  Let dry.  Do this on all four sides.

I added DecoArt Media Fluid Acrylics Metallic Gold to the edges of the butterfly wings by swiping them with my finger.  Then I glued the wings in place on the children with Glossy Accents.  I also glued the sweet rose in the little butterfly boy's hand using Glossy Accents.

I added some Metallic Gold around the edges of the cigar box lid by swiping it on with my finger.  This better defines the edges and pull the top together as well as blend with my antique metal pieces.

I altered the appearance of these metal embellishments that were originally a silver color.  I used DecoArt Media Fluid Acrylics Metallic Gold, swiping it over the surface of the metal with my finger to create an antique gold surface.  Let dry.  Then I added a small butterfly  to the center of the rounded tab using Glossy Accents.

Before I would finish the top or glue on the legs, I needed to complete the sides of the box.  So I added color to them using a baby wipe and DecoArt's Media Fluid Acrylics Primary Magenta mixed with Titanium White mixed together.  Once that layer was on, I added some Yellow Oxide to give a sepia tone; just like I had done on the top of the box.  I also did this to the bottom of the box.

To pull the leaves and the greenish colors from the top of the box, I used DecoArt Media Fluid Acrylics Titan Buff and Blue Green Light mixed together to create the leaf color around the sides of the box.  I added highlights of Titan Buff using a small brush on some of the leaves.  Let dry.  Notice the beautiful crackles from the Crackle Paste?

For that very vintage, aged look, I brushed DecoArt Media Antiquing Cream in Raw Umber over all of the sides of the box and let it dry.  Once dry, wipe off with a lightly damp paper towel or baby wipe to remove all of the brown that you do not want on the surface.  This antiquing cream is amazing and leaves beautiful results in the crackles and textured surface. (In this picture, I have not yet wiped away the excess antiquing cream).

To pull in the gold around the sides and give that little shimmery magic to the surface, I lightly wiped a little DecoArt Media Fluid Acrylics Metallic Gold over some of the leaves, along the edges and randomly on areas of each side of the cigar box.

Now the sides were finished and it was time to complete all of the embellishments for the top!  I added some blue to the vintage image of a book cover using my Detailer Water Brush and a Neocolor II Watercolor Crayon.  I later colored the butterflies using variations of yellow and orange from Neocolor Water Color II Crayons.  I love how subtle the color is!  I lightly distressed the edges of the book cover using my finger and some DecoArt Media Fluid Acrylics Burnt Umber.

Next I laid the picket fence approximately where I would put it on the cover.  Then I laid my vintage lace in place and glued it on using DecoArt Media Matte Medium first as a glue and then as a sealer to hold the lace in place.  (I did not go completely across the top of the box with the lace because my vintage book cover would hide about 1/3 of the lace). Let dry.

I added Glossy Accents to the backside of my picket fence and laid it in place.  Once dry, I sealed over the fence using DecoArt Media Matte Medium.  When that was dry, I hot glued some brown excelsior grass between the picket fence and the lace.  I wanted to add the texture and my picket fence was not long enough to reach the lace.  So, the excelsior grass was a great filler!

I added adhesive pop dots to the backs of my butterfly children to put them in place.  I also added dots of Glossy Accents to the pop dots to ensure a good hold.  I used 1/8" Scor Tape to adhere vintage lace around the vintage book cover.  Then they were glued in place on the top of the box.

I also added a little butterfly flying above their heads by attaching a small cardstock butterfly to a bent wire and gluing it in place using Glossy Accents.  Finally I added a little magic wand, held by  the butterfly girl.  This was done with a small stick and gluing a Tim Holtz Mirrored Star on top of the stick using Glossy Accents.  I tied a small bow using teal organza ribbon and glued the wand in place in her hand.  I glued the metal handle on the box in place using Glossy Accents and slipped the butterfly tab on the vintage book cover.  Finally, I added a few small Tim Holtz Mirrored Stars onto the top of the box using Glossy Accents.  It's amazing what those little stars add!

The outside of the box was adorable but THIS was the inside of the box!  That is NOT going to work!  So, I dug into my stash of papers and found some Pink Paislee's Butterfly Garden papers.  Perfect for the interior of my box!

I measured all of the interior areas, cut paper to fit those areas and distressed all of the edges with a Chestnut Roan Cats Eye Ink Pad.  Then I added PVC glue to the sides of the box and glued those papers in place.  Next I did the bottom of the box.  

I measured and cut a piece of paper for the interior lid of the box.  I used Jet Black Archival Ink to stamp a sentiment on the right side of the paper...just the perfect space for a sentiment!  I glued the interior lid in place using 1/4" Scor Tape and then using my finger, I added DecoArt Media Metallic Gold around all of the exposed interior edges of the box. 

Here is the new and improved cigar box interior!  I have this sitting next to my Spring Frame that I created for you last month!  It's MUCH better than that old cigar box I'd been holding on to forever!!

Here are the images I promised to share that I used on my piece.  You can just right click on them to save them to your computer.  

I hope that you will join us at Creative Carte Blanche for this month's art adventure:  altering a cigar box.  So much fun and the possibilities are endless!  Plus it's a great way to meet new artists who are also on this art journey to find our own authentic voice and creative style together.  Share your creation by linking it to our blog and allowing others to enjoy your work and leave comments.  


  1. Such a delightful box Candy! Love those sweet butterfly fairies you used, everything is so beautifully layered, it looks truly lovely! Love the inside too! The very first cigar box I altered many moons ago, used that paper lien

  2. As long as you don't aim your sharp picket fence at us - it's all good Candy!!!!!!!!!!!!! Heheheheeheheh - sorry - couldn't resist!! Your picket fence is genius.... adore it. AND... I was totally satisfied with the box top with just the fence and the background - sooooo STUNNINGLY SWEET and DAINTY... I just loved it. And YES... it's still COMPLETELY WONDERFUL in it's finished form but I soooo loved seeing your INCREDIBLY SLENDID background. The transformation of your leaves on the side - so intriguing... loved seeing all those phases. And the inside is SPECTACULAR. YOU YOU YOU - dear Candy - are the epitome of your sentiment.... you found something and made something FABULOUS out of it. Talk about INSPIRATION.... this is it!!! XXj.

  3. I can't believe you put those two little girls together! I had no idea they were separate images. Totally LOVE. Adorable butterfly box, I never get tired of your tutorials and seeing the transformation you make happen.

  4. This is such a delightful project, Candy! It really made me smile. What cuties are these! Thanks for sharing the images. Love your stenciled border and the fence is out of this world!

  5. Aaww Candy gorgeous cigar box. Everything works so well together and the stencilled sides are delicious, don't know the antiquing cream but will have to get hold of some as I think the effect is fab. Picket fence is superb, you have got my head spinning with ideas for my box !! Many thanks for the detailed steps xx

  6. Oh my dear Candy! This is a delightful altered box!! Leave it to you to take it to the next level and turn it into a mixed media masterpiece. I've GOT to get some of that antiquing cream and start stashing away napkins. Love those touches and your helpful tips. Always.

  7. I just love the size of the box, I have not seen any that deep but the inside really is perfect to showcase the beautiful Pink Paislee papers. I think my favourite part is the sides, you have made the box look so vintage in the raw umber colour and the antiquing cream has really brought those leaves to life! Needless to say, the little people are just adorable and I really love how you created the picket fence. A beautiful project indeed! Anne xx

  8. Girl..you are speaking my language!!! I love your box...you know I love butterflies...hehehe. The little fairy/butterfly children are so cute! Love every little detail!!! You rocked the cigar box challenge for sure!!!!! Now...I must get busy! wink.

  9. There is so much detail to your box, it's wonderful! I haven't tried anything like this before but have now got a cigar box so will try and have a go at the challenge! xxx

  10. Oh my gosh! Another fabulous project!!! This is just so DEAR! I have got to find myself a box and get busy! :)

  11. Wowzers Candy, I love this!!!!! Love the spring them and thanks for the tut! :)

  12. very nice Candy love this project and all the details!!!!

  13. Oh wow Candy, love this gorgeous creation full of amazing, texture, colour and imagery. The wonderful layers of paint and mediums have cleverly transformed the box into a delightful keepsake and you are inspiring me to get out my vintage images again. I love the bookplate and the delightful butterfly babies. Great job as always xxx

  14. Wow Candy, I really need to drop in on you more often because I always leave here with a wealth of knowledge! So many wonderful techniques, you put so much work into every detail of this project! Love the vines and the amazing distressed patina effect. Thanks for sharing the images too, I love that butterfly card. Beautiful work, just love it! hugs :)

  15. Awww - this is as sweet as can be!! Beautifully designed and made Candy! You can do no wrong in my book. Thanks for sharing all the details. Nicola x

  16. Candy, one of the things I love most about your blog is that I always leave knowing much more than when I came. You are always so sweet to share what you know, and you know sooo much! Your altered cigar box is just lovely; the top is beautiful and almost a shame to cover it up. Good thing you used such cute babies! The metallic gold on the edges is such a perfect finishing touch. Any those crackled vines are fabulous! Wonderful,wonderful altered box! Hugs!

  17. Beautiful Candy! What a transformation!! From stinky old stogies to sweet eye candy! I love that you have shared your steps-thank you!

  18. Wow you have transformed this box into one gorgeous piece of altered Art . Love the images of the children and all the detail you have added .

  19. What a fabulous transformation Candy, love the picket fence, how ingenious, and those butterfly babies are too cute. Thanks for so generously sharing your process and for sharing those great images, much appreciated! Deb xo

  20. Such a beautifully altered cigar box Candy! Love all the stenciled detail and pretty butterflies! The sweet vintage images with the butterfly wings look darling! I appreciate all the hard work and attention to detail you put into each and every project! Thanks for the inspiration!

  21. Stunning!! I love the leaves stenciled on!! Just Beautiful Candy!!

  22. I loved your piece on Wanderlust. Long time ago when i did not know how to comment!
    So, I decided to look you up. Your work/Art is beautiful with wonderful explanations. You would make a wonderful addition to the entourage of teachers for Wanderlust.


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