Memory Box Tutorial

Admittedly, I am probably the least crafty person on the planet.  But, this is good news for you: anyone (yes, ANYONE) can make these cute, little keepsakes to stash whatever your little heart desires.

I saw this craft on the Martha Stewart website quite some time ago, with just a photo and no tutorial, although it is easy enough.  I have been seeing the very same photo floating around Pinterest forever.  We have made several over the past year for travel boxes complete with souvenirs from every vacation we have taken.  (Don’t worry – tutorial on those is coming up next!)

All you need to do is find a wooden cigar box that fits your needs.  They come in all shapes and sizes.  Now, these are available on Etsy for, in my humble opinion, ridiculous prices.  I simply drive my happy butt on over to any cigar store and ask whoever is working there if they have any old boxes they don’t want.  In fact, at most cigar stores I have been in they have a stash of them set out somewhere for people like us to take.  I do typically buy a cigar as a “thank you!” – someone I know will gladly take it.

Not all cigar boxes are created equal.  Some are made of sturdier wood – the nicer the cigar the nicer the box – but most will be just fine.  Most will have stickers on them which will be no problem with a little Goo Gone.  Most will also have a glossy finish which paint covers just fine.  At fist, we spent an awful lot of time sanding off the finish.  Waste of time!  Some will have indentations in the wood with their logo or band name, which is fine if you don’t mind that in the background.  We can call it rustic-looking.  After all, that is the style now, no?


 Here’s what you will need:
– Wooden Cigar Box (duh!)
– Newspaper or work surface that can be painted on
– Goo Gone
– Acrylic Paint
– Acrylic Paint Brushes
– Foam Spouncers
– Paint Stencils (I use the sticker ones)
– Paint Marker

See!  An incredible cheap craft project where all but the box are reusable.

 Step One:
Prepare your box for painting.  Remove any stickers from the box.  Goo Gone helps remove any sticky residue left behind and will not harm the wood.  Make sure all Goo Gone is wiped off prior to painting. Remove any debris left behind on the inside of the box – there is often times cigar residue. 

Ummmm….Probably don’t paint laying down on the carpet like I did…

Step Two:  Painting!  This is the fun part.  I used two colors but use as many as you want or just one.  I like to use a larger brush for majority of the box and the smallest one for tiny corners and the thin pieces of wood.  I always like to start on the inside and work my way out.  These boxes do suck up the paint so it will take several coats, especially on the glossy outer finish.  This box took two in the inside to get the desired color I hoped for and three out on the outside.  If you prefer a more worn, rustic finish two coats will be just fine.

Step Three:  Stenciling.  Make sure the layers of paint are 100% dry before stenciling.  I used sticker paint stencils because, as I stated, I suck at crafting.  However, if you are crafty then you will have more lettering options which regular stencils.

It is very important to make sure the stencils are secured properly so you don’t end up with blotchy lettering.  I used the same color that I used inside which is light enough to stand out against the darker color.  The opposite also works well, obviously.  I used two thick coats and waited for them to dry before peeling off the stencils.

You can stencil any place on the box.  This time around I chose the top but typically I run the lettering horizontally across the front of the box so it is visible from a shelf or bookcase.  I also added a heart on the bottom inside corner of the box since I made this one for the fiance.  This is where you can decide if you would like to write anything inside (or outside) of the box with the paint marker.
Fun additions:
– Scented oil.  I don’t particularly like the smell of stale cigars, so I like to put a drop of scented oil from the craft store in the corner.  Cinnamon and vanilla are my go to scents.  Every time I open one of the boxes it smells amazing!
– Paint markers make it easy to add little notes or quotes or even just the year on the inside of bottom corner of the box.
– Shaped stencils.  I used a small heart above, but I also have seashells and decorative corner stencils to really make the boxes special.
I hope you enjoyed this simple cigar box turned keepsake box tutorial!  Feel free to send me photos of your own as I am always looking for new inspirations for my ever-growing collection.
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