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Tutorial: How to Make an Aged Treasure Box (Part 2)


Here is the rest of the tutorial I promised. If you missed the first half, be sure to start at the beginning.

Without further ado…


Step 9: Take a look at your shape. Now, if you have been painting it like you were supposed to, you would think it should be ready to go. However, when I picked it up, I noticed I really liked the way the paint had bled onto the underside. The blotchiness was perfect for a leaf. Decide which way it looks nicest, and decide on positioning. If you have a small box, there might not be much choice, but if your box is larger, there might be a few options. Once you have decided, put a layer of carpenters glue on the backside (not too thick or it will squish out. I think I used too much) and glue in place. Allow some time to dry (and clean up any escaped glue).


Step 9 1/2: You might notice some doodling on the box. I tried using a ballpoint pen to engrave the box with little leaf and vine designs, pressing hard to essentially carve them. My hope was that paint would sink in and show up. It really didn’t show up so much in the end. However, when Dani and I made the Peter Pan box, she used a metal tipped calligraphy pen to draw her map and some pictures on the sides. The pen bled some, so we had to go over it repeatedly, but it turned out really nice. I’d imagine if you have a dip pen and some india ink, you could get some really nice results. However, that will take some experimentation on your part.

Step 10: Once the shape is pretty firmly attached and the glue is at least halfway dry, add an additional coat of ochre followed by a coat of brown. Colors won’t hurt, but they are optional. This is just to make sure the shape does in fact look like part of the box.


Step 11: Now begins the aging. Before, we were watering paint quite a bit. Now, we want it a bit thicker. It still needs some water, so that it’s a bit runny, but it doesn’t need to be completely watery. Mix up some runny black, and apply it in strategic locations such as corners, edges, especially the bottom edges, around the edges of shape, and fairly heavily on the inside corners. Crevices and grooves should be fairly dark too. Anywhere you think grime might accumulate, add some black. As you add the black, put a layer of water to dissolve the edges so there are no distinct brush marks. Add additional layers if needed.

Step 12: Add some black to the metal bits such as hinges and fastenings. Most of it won’t stay, and you will likely need to add layers, but it will help keep the metal parts from appearing too new and shiny.


Step 13: Take the old toothbrush and spatter the box, inside and out, with black. To do so, dip the toothbrush in the runny black paint, hold it a 3 or 4 inches from the box, and pull your finger across the bristles. I had better luck pulling my finger from one side to the other, rather than bottom to top, but experiment and find what produces better results for you. It might depend on the shape of the toothbrush, as there are all kinds of fancy toothbrushes out there. Try not to view it as a toothbrush anymore. Its pretty gross looking, haha.


Step 14: This part is fun. Here is where we put all kinds of dents and dings in the box. Take a hammer and beat it up. Make sure to smash in all the corners (including those of the opening) and put lots of dings and dents along each edge (again, including the opening). These are the places that would likely get the most banged up. Try using both sides of the hammer, and various angles. When Dani and I made the Peter Pan box, we also dropped it down the staircase and scraped it against a stucco wall. Both were actually accidental, and for a moment, we both thought “oh no!” but then we realized, it just added more character. So… go ahead. Throw it down the stairs if you would like. Just make sure no one is standing at the bottom.


Step 15: No good aging process is complete without a little burning. I started out using a lighter, but either it was dying, or didn’t like being on for too long, so I migrated to the stove. I turned the burner on to the highest setting and held the box over the flame till it caught fire. I then removed it, and it quickly died down and smoldered. I did a few of the corners, the handle, and one edge. The worst part of this is it probably –could- catch fire, and the box itself gets hot. Obviously, be careful.

Step 16: These last few steps may seem a little strange, but stick with me. We are going to cover the box with wax. If you’ve ever felt something old and wooden, like the rail of a historic ship, it has a dull smoothness to it. Not slick like varnish, but simply… smooth. I imagine it’s a combination of wearing and oil from hands and more grime. We are going to replicate that with wax. First thing, we need to melt the wax. If you have a melting pot for wax, awesome. You are set. If you either can’t afford one, like me, or just haven’t had a need for one, don’t fret! What I did was used aluminum foil to make a little cup that would hold about 1/3 to a ½ cup liquid, and fashioned a handle to hook onto the edge of a frying pan (so it wouldn’t tip). In hindsight (and for future projects) I think a small tin can like the sort tuna comes in would work even better. Whether you are using a melting pot, foil, or a can, get your wax melting. I’d imagine beeswax or cooking paraffin would work. I took plain votive candles.

Step 17: While the first candle (or chunk of wax) is melting, cover your work station with foil. Newspaper won’t work. It will stick to the wax, and thus, to your box too. Take one of the candles (or wax chunks) that were set aside and, as if it were a crayon, begin rubbing it into the wood as much as you can. It helps to make sure all parts of the box at least get some wax.


Step 18: When the wax is melted, pour it over the box. Don’t pour all at once, but rather, about 1/3 of it. Use a paper towel to rub it in and spread it around, then pour more wax on another part of the box. You don’t want it too thick, or else it really will look like you poured wax on it, and even a slight scratch will show up in the wax. Repeat the pouring and spreading until all melted wax is used, or the wax needs to be remelted. Add another chunk of wax and continue melting. Repeat until the whole box has been coated, inside and out.

Step 19: Take a hair dryer or heat gun and on a hot setting, soften/melt the wax on the box, and continue to use the paper towel to spread the wax as evenly as possible. If there is excess, let it drip off onto the foil. Once it is even, give a brief bit of heat to each side so the wax remelts, and then sets clear. On the inside, you may want to allow extra wax to settle in the corners, if this hasn’t happened already. On my box, it happened of its own accord.

Optional Finishing: You may want to line the inside of your box with velvet or embossed felt. If so, either skip the wax on the inside and glue it in, or press the felt into a thick layer of wet wax. I chose not to line mine, as I liked the wood look.


And there you have it. Your very own aged treasure chest. Enjoy.

P.S. If you create one, take a picture and send me a link. I’d love to see how it comes out!

Tutorial: How to Make an Aged Treasure Box (Part one)

I promised a tutorial on how I created my aged treasure box, so here it is. Its rather long, and I wanted to break it into three parts, but the natural breaking points dictated two. So here you are. Part one. Tune in tomorrow for part two.



  • pine box
  • wooden decorative element
  • paintbrushes
  • water jar
  • palette with paint wells (paint will be watery so a flat palette will not do)
  • acrylic paint: brown, yellow-ochre, black, and a few colors (I suggest a sky blue and a red)
  • sandpaper
  • hammer
  • carpenters glue
  • lighter (or a stove, if you are brave)
  • old toothbrush
  • wax (I used a few votive candles)
  • wax melting pot (a shallow tin or even a bit of aluminum foil in a frying pan will do in a pinch)
  • newspaper and paper towels

Thus begins the adventure….


Step 1: Set up a work space with newspaper, and make sure materials are accessible. If your workspace will need to be used for other purposes over the next days (for example, if you work at the kitchen table, like I do) make sure you have somewhere the box can sit to dry.


Step 2: Check to see if there is an evil price tag sticker. I didn’t do this and found it after I had started, but its better to get rid of it now. If there is, see if it will peel off easily. If so, you are one of the lucky ones and can continue to step 3. If not, keep reading.


If it peels off in pieces about equal to confetti like mine did, peel off what you can. Then, wet it, and continue rubbing to get as much of the paper off as possible. Finally, take some sand paper and sand away the sticky parts. Yes, I know. It’s a pain. Don’t look at me. I’m not the one that put the stupid sticker there.


Step 3: We will primarily be painting with watered down paints. Because the layers are thin, once they accumulate, they have a nice effect. Here’s how I watered my paints. Put a pea sized puddle/glob of yellow-ochre (or gold, or tan, or some other similar color) in one of the paint wells, and then add water until it is mostly full. It helps to use a medicine syringe. I don’t have the patience to carry the water drop by drop with a paint brush when I need to water the paints that much. Use a small paint brush to mix the paint. This paint brush is for mixing ONLY. Once the watered down paint is fully mixed, put the mixing brush in the water jar and take a small to medium size flat brush. Give the box a good coating with the thinned ochre paint, inside and outside.


Step 4: Don’t forget your extra shape, if you have one. I chose a leaf because I like leaves. A lot. You can choose whatever you’d like. Paint the top of your shape, and don’t forget the edges. The underside won’t show, so there is no need to paint that. If you should have a shape with grooves or beveling, make sure the paint gets in there too. Allow both box and shape a bit of time to dry.


Step 5: Once the box is relatively dry (its ok if it’s still a little damp) water down some brown paint in the same manner as the ochre paint, and give the box a coat of brown. Remember, the mixing brush is not to be used for painting (some of the thick pigment lodges itself in the brush and if you paint with it, it will show up on the box). Don’t forget the inside and your shape. Allow some time to dry as before.


Step 6: Water down a few colors of paint. As mentioned in the materials list, I recommend a sky blue and a reddish color. They show up nicely on the finished box. Additional colors won’t hurt. Once your colors are watered down, apply them to the box. This time, do not cover the whole surface. It should be patchy and/or streaky. This layer should be completely dry before further paint is added, to preserve the streaky effect. Otherwise, the paint is just dissolved into the other colors and you will have to redo it. Add some to your shape too.


Step 7: If desired, apply additional coats of brown and gold, and possibly more colors (don’t overdo it, but if you see a place that could use an extra streak, go ahead. Just make sure to let the colors dry.) Remember to add to your shape every time you add to your box.


Step 8: Water down some black, and give the box a coat of black. This will darken the box a bit, and start to add the aged feel. Again, shape too. Allow to dry completely. (Overnight should be sufficient).

This is already very very long. Part two will go up tomorrow. Your box needs to dry anyways.  Happy creating.

Update: Part Two is up.