Each section of the stained glass image colored in with watercolor pencil and wet to blend.

Make-Up Box Makeover

Everyday Adventures, Projects

The finished box with brass-toned clasp and corners

As promised, today I’m going to share the details of my “whatnot” box makeover that I made as part of the Gauche AlchemyViva Las VegaStamps swap the blogs did last week.


A few years back Todd and I hosted a beach-themed, couples wedding shower which left us with some beach-themed decorations. In that house, the hall bathroom was white with blue fixtures (like powder blue sink and tub and blue-veined “marble” counter tops), so some of the decorations got recycled into bathroom decor. I also used that bathroom to get ready in the mornings, so this beachy “Welcome” box hid my makeup for when there were actual guests using the room.

Beach-themed box

Fortunately, our current home has enough room in the bedroom for my vanity (an antique desk) but the beachy box just doesn’t jive with the Moroccan theme we’re sorta half-heartedly attempting. When I got my VLVS stamps in the mail, I started thinking it was a good time to give this make-up box a bit of a make-over.

First I had to prep the surface, which meant 3 coats of red paint, Mod Podged pattern tissue on the lid and flap and some diluted brown paint to make it look somewhat like aged leather. The bottoms and sides were sponge-painted with the same brown paint.

Box painted red

It took 3 coats to mostly cover the beachy designs (note to self: primer!).

Tissue from a sewing pattern applied to the lid and flap with Mod Podge

Tissue paper (from sewing patterns!) is one of the many tricks I've picked up from the Gauche girls.

Diluted paint applied to the tissue paper "leather"

Diluting the paint was a happy accident--the brush was still wet and I just went with it.

Brown paint sponged over the red base of the sides and bottom.

A natural sea-sponge, dipped in the same brown paint from the lid, created a nice pattern over the red background of the rest of the box.

While the box did its drying thing, I got to work on the stamped portion of this project.

From VLVS I’d ordered the Stained Glass background stamp and an “Intricate Design”. I knew the stained glass pattern had potential, but it was really the designy one that got the wheels turning. At first I thought it would turn out more like an antique brooch, and had planned to make it into some stamped jewelry (and might still!) but when I held it in my hand I immediately thought it looked more like hardware than jewelry, and this product’s direction was set.

To go with the VLVS stamps I pulled out a layered morning glory stamp set from my old CTMH days and stamped it in a burgundy and brown on a sheet of card stock. On top of that went the stained glass pattern, embossed in black. I filled in the open sections of the pattern with watercolor pencils–working from red outside layers to a warm yellow just around the morning glory. A few spritzes of water and some paintbrush smooshing and I had my central image.

Double-layer stamp from Close to my Heart, morning glory, leaf and vine curl

I've had this stamp for 7+ years and only just now finding a use for it.

Stained Glass stamp embossed in black over the morning glory image.

The shiny black embossing looks JUST like stained-glass leading. Silver would also rock.

Each section of the stained glass image colored in with watercolor pencil and wet to blend.

This really got saturated, so if you try it, make sure to use thick, heavy paper. Watercolor paper would be even better.

It was still a smidgen too bright, though, so I pulled out my metallic watercolor palette and smeared on a bronze tint (which I first put on thicker than intended, so had to spritz and blot until we got to the finished layer of just aged enough.

The stained-glass image overpainted with bronze metalling watercolors.

I love the way this turned out, I can't help but smile when I see it.

Letting that dry for a bit, I moved onto the design bits and stamped four of those with clear pigment ink and embossed them in gold. After fussy-cutting each motif and scoring it to fold down the center, length-wise, I noticed the edges and background were both a little too stark, so used a dark grey rub-on paste to antique them.

The Intricate Design stamp embossed in gold

I was worried the detail of this stamp might clog up but it really worked beautifully!

The intricate design images cut out and scored to fold.

Do you see what I see? I see some ornate hinges. Gorgeous!

Two of the scored "hinges", one aged, one not.

The one on the left has been antiqued with grey rub-on paste, see the difference it makes?

Whatnot Box Assemble!

The stained-glass image went onto the lid of the box, centered, adhered with Mod Podge. I didn’t add a coat to the top, though, to avoid a too-slick finish. The “hinges” went two on the front fold of the flap and two on the back fold of the lid. Not snugging it up to the fold allowed me to still open the box without the hinges busting. Since I had the rub-on paste still out, I used a lighter gold and a clean make-up sponge (fitting!) to burnish the top and flap, and blend in the central image a bit to the background.

Closeup view of the assembled makeup box lid, with stamped images applied, and a gold paste rub-on finish to blend it all together.

Again, I've had these rub-on pastes in my stash for 10 years or more--a little goes a long way!--but they do a fabulous job on a project like this to tie everything together.

Finishing touches included a purely decorative latch (I glued it in place after removing the prongs but it stuck okay on it’s own since there’s a magnet inside the flap to keep the box shut) and a couple of metallic corners, both from clearance-aisle purse parts picked up ages ago. The inside got a layer of wood-veneer shelf paper (easy for cleaning up make-up residue) and the whole thing will get a coat of matte sealer before it heads back to my make-up table.

The finished box with brass-toned clasp and corners

Now I’m wondering if I couldn’t make over the entire desk this way!

4 thoughts on “Make-Up Box Makeover

    1. Thanks 🙂 I had a plan, of sorts, when I started out, but there were a lot of happy accidents that came into play by the end of it, and about the only thing that stayed as planned were the faux-hinges.

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