These amazing heart shape keepsakes were crafted and shared with us by special guest blogger Dena Ann Adams.
This pretty heart shape trinket box was so fun to make it felt like a present to myself. I love this kit as-is, and I think it’s great – but did you know you can also go way outside the box and surprise yourself with the personalized results?
This is another more advanced project for tweens-and-up with an interest in art and the dexterity to do detailed work. You can definitely scale back and adapt for smaller artists, but I was so inspired by the Shade-Tex Rubbing plates I decided to go all-out with art exploration.
I’m also going to demonstrate that by doubling down on an important step or two, your craft and art projects can give you great giftable extras. You’ll see what I mean as you read on…
Materials From Melissa & Doug
- Decorate-Your-Own Wooden Heart Box
- Fine paint brushes
- Multicolor Scratch Art paper pack or White Scratch Art paper (we’ll be using white for a chalkboard lettering effect, but feel free to use your favorite color)
- Melissa & Doug wood stylus. I like to give my wood stylus a turn or two in a handheld pencil sharpener.
- Fine brushes (for more paint, for clear drying glue for paper, or a matte decoupage medium)
- Shade-Tex Cultural Pattern Rubbing Plate Set
- Scratch Art Rubber Brayer Soft
- Melissa & Doug Scratch Tool set (optional)
Non-Melissa & Doug Materials :
- Acrylic Craft Paint (choose 1 or 2 contrasting colors)
- Decoupage Medium Glue in Matte
- Heavier weight paper (a light card stock is good)
- Wax Paper or Waste Paper (for protecting work surface and rolling out paint)
- Optional: Metallic Craft Paint (if using one base color)
- Unscented Baby Wipes
- Water and Water container
- Optional but recommended: a couple of blank cards, tags, or collage canvases, little extra surfaces to decorate.
- Optional: Printouts of personal photos, vintage public domain images, scans of your artwork, scans of kids’ artwork or personal documents with meaning. Use printed scans, print or photocopy onto cardstock-weight paper. You can also use scrapbook or wrapping paper that you like (3.5″ x 3.5″ is the size you need).
- Nailbrush or scrub brush (for cleanup)
- Taklon Brush (optional, recommended, 1 or 0 round – if you want to paint details)
Step 1: Cover the Heart Shaped Box in Gesso. (Optional, for best results)
IMPORTANT – Skip this step if you are with very small artists, wish to use the provided paint colors, or just don’t have gesso. It’s a nice helpful step, but you can live without it.
Why do this? Well, wood is a thirsty material and gesso is a white paint layer that acts as a primer – your wood will actually absorb less of the precious paint color, and your box will have a drier feel when dried and the lid will be less likely to stick. I covered all inside and outside surfaces except for the top of the box lid. Gesso will permanently stain clothes and isn’t suitable for anyone who is liable to ingest paint – take note, and proceed appropriately.
Let your Gesso dry. This is pretty fast!
Step 2: Painting.
Cover all gesso-painted surfaces with a base color of your choice. I used a soft blue acrylic craft paint for the main part of the box, and Melissa & Doug paints without a gesso undercoat on the bottom of my box.
(I did this to see how well this technique will work if you don’t have more paint than the kit and a few Melissa & Doug extras. It works fine!)
If you’re not using other craft paint, use the lightest Melissa & Doug provided color instead. A larger brush than the enclosed brush will cut down on brush marks for this step. The provided colors WILL work just fine for this project, I was just inspired by different colors that I already own.
The enclosed paints look like fairly small amounts, but they will do the job well. I found that one pot yielded well over two coats for covering the bottom of the box, so altogether they will cover the whole just fine.
To cover the lid of the box later, paint an area in a light color or a matching color of paint on one of the sheets of light cardstock or heavy paper. Just cover a 3.5inch area that will cover the lid. I like to do extra in case of mistakes later on, then I can start over with a freshly painted background again.
Let your box dry well. While you wait…
Step 3: Time to Scratch. To decorate the lid, (and possibly other parts of the box as well) let’s scratch.
I was thoughtfully provided with the seven-piece Melissa & Doug Scratch Art tool set, and I have to say I love this tool a lot. It’s great for fine lines, and the rake-shaped tool tips make amazing cross-hatching textures, grids, bunny fur, parallel lines – they really are easy to use and add a wealth of marks to your Scratch Art. They’re especially great with the Scratch Art 12pt boards.
For lettering however, nothing beats a wood stylus. For some reason the rounded point makes curving and fluid lines that change direction more easily – try both tools on some lettering and you’ll see what I mean.
First, trace the heart shape of the lid onto your Scratch Art as a guideline for the size you will need to work within. Then, have some fun inside the lines. Nothing is more disappointing than making a great image and having to trim part of it off.
I made several hearts and several different options. I made mistakes – it’s OK, just move on. It’s better to give yourself different options and versions to choose from and alternates in case something gets smeared or torn in the final assembly. You can make small words and images to collage together onto background paper, and you can make a black and white heart to the exact size of the lid – try different things and have fun.
When you are done with your art, cover it with matte decoupage medium. It will dry clear and you will protect the extremely fragile surface of scratch-art significantly. It will also prevent buckling later. Let that dry.
Step 3.5 (optional but fun)
But I don’t wanna Scratch or I’m out of Scratch Art or I want more options!
That’s OK – you can simply trace and cut heart shapes to size over printouts or scrapbook paper. I printed out a public domain vintage image, a photo from my Instagram feed, and a small version of a print of one of my paintings. You can use photos, art, special documents – scan anything that you love.
If you aren’t into the scanning and printing thing, you can use scrapbook paper or pretty wrapping paper you’ve been sentimentally saving – as long as it’s not super thin.
Again, I print several images because I want to make more hearts than I will wind up using, so that I have options to pick from and leftovers to enjoy as well!
Once I’ve printed out my art or chosen my paper, I cover a box-lid-sized area of the image with the matte decoupage medium and let it dry. It will dry clear, and it will dry a little more protected against dirt and wear.
Step 4: Stamping in Paint
Ready to use your Shade-Tex plates TOTALLY not as intended for a great result? I was. The moment I opened these awesome versatile little plastic sheets, the texture junkie in me KNEW it was a stamp waiting to happen.
Take a contrasting color of paint (or a dark color if you’re sticking to the kit) and your Melissa & Doug Soft Brayer.
Roll out a small amount (a solid blob, but not the whole paint pot) on a sheet of wax paper. I used a metallic Pewter paint (schmancy) but you can use any colors you want.
Working fairly quickly – roll your paint-coated brayer over the Shade-Tex plate.
Close the box, and roll the sides over the painted Shade-Tex plate. Use firm, consistent pressure, and you should see the pattern transfer nicely to your box. You can also do the bottom if you like.
Since you’re already doing this step, stamp the sheet of card stock you painted earlier – you now have one or more completely matching lid options later!
Since we’re out here making a little mess, you can also stamp and print some of those extra cards, tags, and whatnots – just coat your Shade-Tex plate, and press them into the paint, smoothing the back with your hands thoroughly. Now you have super nice backgrounds to work on later.
Put your brayer into water immediately to keep paint from drying. Rinse your plate right away to keep paint from filling in the textures. You may want to scrub it with a nail brush when washing.
Step 5: Choosing The Lid.
Trace the box lid, facing downward, over all the art you intend to use. Make four or five options using the printed art, the Scratch Art, scrapbook papers – cut a traced-out heart made from your printed and painted card stock (or two) and collage those with words and doodles from scratch art – use your imagination. Cut out the heart shapes, making the cut a little wider than the traced line (you’ll trim edges later).
Place each option on the lid, take a look, and pick your favorite.
I was pretty torn between my little painting and the scratch-art and printed collage. I used my print and made a special card with my second choice.
When you’ve made your selection, carefully glue it down onto the lid. A little overhang on all edges is ideal.
After it’s all dry, using small scissors or a craft knife (in the cautious hands of a grownup) trim all the edge material to be flush with the lid.
Maybe you want a secret message inside your box? Now is the time. Glue it into place.
Looking good! When you are content with your results, you can coat the surfaces of the box with decoupage medium. If you do this, DO NOT COAT the inside parts of the lid that engage each other – they might wind up a bit sticky. You can cover everything else.
Step 6: Glitter, Glitz and Bonus Round: CARDS.
Decorate your box much as suggested by the kit. Use the enclosed glitter glue and little jewels however you wish.
When you’re done, chances are you have a lot of extra stuff. Take those cards, tags, extra box-lid hearts, extra collage bits, glitter, extra jewels – and make yourself some terrific cards and envelopes! My second favorite lid option made a smashing card, I think.
So how’s the kit?
Honestly, I like a lot of things about this kit. I was a bit uncertain if there would be enough paint to go around and I was overly doubtful about the paint coverage. For some reason, the Melissa & Doug paints seem very transparent when I’ve used them with brown Kraft cards, but when I used the paint on the box it performed better than expected. The adhesive on the jewels works well on hard surfaces, like the box, but less well on flexible surfaces like paper – you’ll want a stronger glue in that event. The one weak area here is, in my opinion, the enclosed kit brush. It’s like a nail polish brush and lacks any kind of detail control – I found it extremely frustrating, so a younger person is sure to be even less patient. If you have a budding detail painter on your hands (and most young art fans are) you’ll want a brush that comes to a better point, with softer bristles. Other than that, this is a great and versatile little kit and you’ll have leftovers for more projects.