Okay. Confession time. I love boxes. Whether they’re made of wood, metal, corrugated cardboard, paper, fabric, clay, glass, or pretty much anything else, I want to look at them. Touch them. Walk around them. Walk inside them. Climb on top of them. Put things inside them. Modify them. And I want to make them, too.

While many people salivate over the idea of a Caribbean cruise, I’d rather muck about in museums, looking at box collections. Since I’m not likely to convince my husband this is how we should spend our next vacation, I will have to be satisfied with viewing online box tutorials, admiring boxes created by Etsy sellers, and visiting virtual galleries such as Tony Hyman’s cigar box collection in the National Cigar Museum, the Lunch Box Museum in Columbus, Georgia, or the Porter Music Box Museum in Randolph, Vermont. Of course, no true box lover travels alone, so I hope you’ll accompany me on my box tour.

We’ll begin in my sewing room, where I have stored sewing notions in simple paper boxes, folded Origami-style. I found the instructions for these boxes in a book called Origami Boxes: For Gifts, Treasures & Trifles, by Alexandra Dirk.

Since we’re already in Iowa, we’ll drive about 45 minutes north to visit Brett of VanFleetStreetDesign, who specializes in creating boxes called nichos, which are objects of Latino folk art. “Nichos are made from mixed media and traditionally combine elements from Roman Catholicism, mestizo spirituality, and other cultural items of significance to the owner such as skeletons, small photos and the like,” explains Brett. “It is common to see decorative boxes called ‘nichos’ set upon tables and pedestals to display icons. These boxes may serve as a religious altar (to mark a significant religious event) or to honor a patron saint or to house calaveras (skeletons) of special significance for Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead).”

(Day of the Dead Shadow Box)


After visiting Brett, it’s time to hit I-80 East to visit Zuda of ZudaGay in Illinois. Zuda makes all of her own cardboard shipping boxes for the beautiful polymer clay flowers she creates. Her pattern can be adapted for boxes of all sizes.


Box Tutorial, by ZudaGay

Our box tour takes us north, after visiting Zuda, to the Wisconsin Dells, where another polymer clay artist, Berit of ClayCenter, makes “canes” and clay-covered tin boxes, among other items. Berit explains that her work reflects the millefiori tradition, a technique used by Venetian glass blowers that has been adapted for polymer clay. Millefiori means “one thousand flowers,” and floral influences are evident in Berit’s work.

We travel to the Eastern part of the U.S. next, on our journey to find beautiful and interesting boxes. In Massachusetts we discover photographer Beth of BethPeardonProds, whose love of the sea is reflected in her photos. Since I lived on the West coast for more than a dozen years, I can relate to the feelings she evokes in her shadow box that includes sea shells and one of her sandscape photos.

From Massachusetts it’s a relatively short drive to Pennsylvania, where we meet Barb of blazingneedles, who is in her third career as a fiber artist (after teaching and software engineering). She shares with us her knitting loom, which is an amazing piece of equipment. Although Barb’s specialty is machine knitting, she also does hand knitting and crocheting. I am in love with her knitted lace boxes!


Also residing in Pennsylvania is Nonnie of Stained Glass by Nonnie. She is a stained glass artist whose Etsy shop showcases her stained glass candle lanterns, lamps, ACEOs (Art Cards, Editions and Originals), and much more. I especially like her Rosewood Box.



From Pennsylvania, we proceed south to North Carolina, where we encounter the studios of Kate of HeronsTreasures, and Judy of artsyclay. Both women share a love of painting and polymer clay, although Kate splits her interests between painting, clay and vintage collectibles, while Judy primarily works with clay.


for sale by HeronsTreasures


Another Etsy artist who loves both painting and working with clay is Jill of JillsTreasureChest. To reach her, however, we need to drive to the far South to visit her Mississippi studio, which is a shed she has had built specifically for her creative ventures. Although much of her work is whimsical, including cat and frog angels, Jill also paints ceramic boxes. I especially like her Southwest Heart Treasure Box, which would be perfect for jewelry.

Our next stop is a fun-filled one as we journey to the Southwest, where Joon of joonE lives. You never quite know what to expect of Joon, whose creative engine is stoked at all times with products that are original, unexpected and fun, as well as earth-friendly. Her sewing and craft goodies box is exactly as she describes it: fun!

by joonE

Our final stop on our box-exploring journey is in Colorado, where Judi of VintageLegacyStudio welcomes us into her home, which is filled with authentic vintage treasures. Among them is a wonderful old sewing machine cabinet drawer that includes a handmade sewing chatelaine, to which are attached sewing notions.

After visiting all of these Etsy artists, I feel inspired to make my own boxes for the thread flower brooches I crochet.

If you’d like to learn more about creating different kinds of boxes, you may wish to check out these books:

© 2009 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved. Please note that the images in this post are owned by the artists and may not be used without permission. Simultaneously published at http://boomersandbeyond.blogspot.com.

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