All paint finished and art attached to top, just waiting for trim.

Keepsakes Made from Vintage Cardboard Cigar Boxes

    All paint finished and art attached to top, just waiting for trim.

All paint finished and art attached to top, just waiting for trim.

A month ago I posted a photo of my fine felines sitting atop a box of something that was soon to be another project, as soon as they processed the contents by sleeping on them. They handed those contents over to me I set aside this past weekend to get it done. More cigar box keepsakes!

Basil keeps guard as Mr. Sunshine naps on the boxes in the box and Bella naps next to them.

Basil keeps guard as Mr. Sunshine naps on the boxes in the box and Bella naps next to them.

These cigar boxes are the old-style cardboard type, the ones we probably all grew up with around the house, holding photos and hardware and handkerchiefs. Unlike the wooden boxes I worked with last autumn these boxes are in varying states of wear and tear, written on, watermarked, with holes from thumbtacks and dinged up corners and warped lids, but all of the 13 were usable for brand new works of creative whatever.

Most of them were vintage, decades old, and some, judging by the suggested price of the cigars, were nearly a century old.

The cigar boxes.

The cigar boxes.

All needed to be cleaned, of course, and the insides of the boxes were somewhat stained and yellowed. As before I wanted to preserve as much of the original color and art on and in the boxes aside from what I’d add to the lid. I wiped down all the surfaces with my glass and all-surface cleaner, using a little rubbing alcohol on some marker and oily stains and all came pretty clean.

three black cats with cigar box keepsake boxes

Setting up for today’s big studio project, with lots of supervision. I’m trying to discuss my latest idea with them but I’m only getting stern expressions. Purrhaps they are tired of listening to me talk to myself.

A few needed the paper hinges on the lids repaired and a few corners reconstructed. The insides of the boxes, though, were a little too dingy to leave as is so I painted the inside of the bottom and up the side walls of each box with a matte white that I tinted to match the aged color of the white areas of the box, still leaving some of the text and art.

two black cats sleeping with keepsake boxes

My last two supervisors, Mewsette Basil, have fallen asleep in the corner of my table. Tired of hearing me talk to myself, or possibly listening to The Prisoner of Azkaban is not as interesting as it is for me.

The white owl artwork was particularly exciting to since I’d chosen book three of the Harry Potter series to listen to while working on this project I felt the presence of owls all around me.

I made seven feline-themed boxes and six floral boxes, finishing the sides and trim with specialty finishes that coordinated with the design. Even boxes among the same brand, including the most common, Marsh & Wheeling, are different sizes for the different sizes of cigars they held, even just by 1/4-inch on one dimension, and it made an interesting game matching up the art with the overall shape, and then trimming it to the exact size to fit, considering that the boxes aren’t really square anymore. Once they are all done, you’d never know, that’s the fun of it.

Now that they are all dry I am adding the finishing touches: a ribbon tie that attaches to the edge of the underside of the lid and attaches with a velcro closure to the front of the box. Some of the lids close very nicely and some are still a little warped, despite my patient soaking and flattening, but even for the ones that are flat and fit neatly into the sides of the box, I like to have a lid that is held shut somehow in case the box is knocked over.

I will work to get these boxes and the gift bags listed this week, but believe it or not I also have a few more gift items to make for this weekend’s event for Meals on Wheels.

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