Hi everyone!!! This is my box for Laura's (LauralsAttic)Altered cigar box swap. First off I want to thank everyone in the group for being so patient and supportive during this project. I really appreciate everyone's kindness and encouragement.
Next I want to say to those not in the group that everything that could go wrong with this project went wrong, so I may end up skipping some steps that are I feel are irrelevant. I had two clear visions for a box for Pam and both were VERY different and very lovely. However I loved the idea of the installed lighting on this and the other vision just wouldn't have worked with the lighting so I went with this Alice in Looking Glass Land box. I am going to go through my steps chronologically rather than doing a picture by picture explanation.
A few notes on design first though. I really wanted to carry the theme of the looking glass throughout the piece so the high gloss finishes were fundamental to me. Also, I wanted to step away from the traditional Alice blue that we are all so familiar with. I knew Pam really enjoys her garden so it was a no brainer to make this scene take place in the small garden Alice comes across at the beginning of the book. Since I was dealing with chess as the third theme I thought shades of green and red would really be striking, however I wanted to rely on shades and tints rather than dealing with strong brights through out. When picking flowers I wanted to do a representation of the flowers Carol had within the garden he mentioned in his book. While it was very tempting at times to use items and themes from the first book I avoided this except for the small plaque in the cloche that says "we're all mad here". I wanted this box to be as unique as possible while remaining true to both Pam's taste and my expression. In the end it became what it wanted to be.
Okay let's get moving! So I started out by of course removing all the labels from the box then sanding it down. I then made my own stain with Liquitex Phthalocyanin Green (blue shade) professional acrylic paint and another from their transparent white. I used several layers on the outside green on the outside and the white on the inside. I found the most awesome latches, but they were too wide to use with the way the box was in its original form so I bought some molding mitered it and then used Gorilla wood glue to attach it. I had intended to nail down the molding, but in the end it was so strong on its own that I decide that since I was going to pour resin into the top that it was more than secure enough. Next I did several more layers on green stain on the top over the molding.
All my hardware was originally bronze and so I really liked the ruff iron look a little better with the teal so I spray painted the pieces with Rustoleum paint. This included the latches, feet, screws and the cabochon treys. I also spray painted some clear glass chess pieces with Rustoleum's stained glass effect paint in Red. I really liked the coral look with just two coats and decided to leave it a pale reddish coral rather than pushing it. I also sprayed the small chess pieces with Rustoleum's gloss banner red and their gloss white. The red pieces came out a dark brown rather than red so I removed the paint (since building it up would have meant loosing detail) and then sprayed them with a matt white primmer then added the red. It helped ALOT, but still on the brick red side though.
I made a metallic paint using the Liquitex Phthalocyanin Green and Liquitex iridescent medium. I used that to add some depth to the top and also to add some sparkle to the edges on the inside of the box. For the inside the original idea was to transfer the image of Alice entering through the looking-glass directly onto the wood of the inside of the lid, but that went terribly wrong and the image just didn't completely transfer. It did partially, so well so I had to sand the top inside of the lid down again. The box itself is cedar and it just didn't like being sanded again and the wood just splintered and came apart terribly. So I had to come up with a different action plan for the inside of the box to cover the new damage. I decided to go ahead and forego the original desire to maintain the raw cedar on the inside and to print the Alice paper on Bazzill Basics Orange Peel paper, sprayed it with Krylon's UV-resistant clear gloss spray to protect the ink and then lined the inside of the box with it. In that process I realized that the box itself was not truly square and to adjust for that the box maker routered the lid at a really cricked angle. So the square piece of paper didn't look square... hence the introduction of the ribbon. I used some ribbon I found at HL which I think really added to the box in the end. I went with Swarovski crystals (which they really really sparkled and of course that doesn't show in the pictures) that were bought at HL to line the ribbon.
Next I assembled the cabochons. I usually use Ranger glossy accents to attach the glass cabochon to the image and then use the glossy accents to attach the finished cabochon to the trey. Now when I spray paint my treys I have never had to seal the treys an extra time to prevent chemical transfers to the paper image (sometimes your image will turn blue or another color if your trey isn't properly sealed). I use TH Distress Glaze to seal my images so they don't fade. Usually I let the image cure for 24 hours (since I use an inkjet) seal it with the distress glaze then glue the image to the cabochon let that dry and then cut the cabochon off the paper and install it into the trey and let it cure. Well for some reason (I don't know why) I cut the images on my cricket to proper size and then installed the image to the trey and the glass cabochon at the same time. Well for some reason the image faded anyway. I noticed soon enough to be able to remove the cabochon from the trey but it damaged the paint. Easy enough to fix right? Nope my cans of spray paint clogged (yes I mean the cans themselves). Since I was trying to get this done by the dead line I didn't want to get more paint so I made my own patina from the Liquitex Phthalocyanin Green and prima's texture powder and another from their titanium white and prima's texture powder. I then paired those with Prima's Mint patina texture paste. I used that on the treys. I also decided to make the match box drawer (since I was going to paint the handle with the patina paste). It was quick and easy and I simply cut the pieces on the Cricut and assembled them. The box was inked with TH's Evergreen Bough ink. I also did the small edition of Alice in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass at this stage. Also I assembled the box corners here also. I cut two sets of each corner to increase the depth of the image. I used Prima's 3D gel to assemble those. They were then sealed with the Krylon gloss spray and then varnish with Liquitex varnish. I assembled the flowers at this point which were the Stamperia's garden paper and white vellum with green metallic effect. I really wanted the lights to shine through the flowers as well as possible while having a cool effect with the lights off as well. They all went together flawlessly (at least something did!)!!!
Next I made my own granite style paper using Lindy's Starburst sprays and paper from Stamperia's garden collection. The colors of spray are: Time Travel Teal, Mad Hatter Mint, Rudolf's Nose Red, Crème Brulee Cream. I then made the Iris fold for the bottom of the box and the chess board for the top. Next I used Liquitex's high gloss acrylic varnish for the outside. I mixed some interference blue mica pigment into some and did a few layers with plain and then a few layers with the blue interference. On the top I used a little stronger content of mica to begin with which is what gave it that strong blue tint. I used my TH stamps and did some stamping on the sides with an custom ink of mine. I then sprayed the side with a fixative to insure as little as possible didn't get washed away in the future layers of varnish. Then after a few more layers of varnish, I used my harlequin TH stencil along with another custom metallic made with the same green and the translucent white to apply a little more detail to the sides. Then I did a few more layers of varnish.
I then glued the chess board to the top and laid the clear resin into the top. This took 2 days as I had to do 3 layers. After the second layer I dusted the resin with some interference red mica powder then poured the last layer of resin. Now somehow in the process the varnish changed drastically and I had a lot of dribbles on the sides of the box. I would have thought they were resin that leaked out from the sides on the molding, but there really was no evidence to support that since there weren't any dribbles on the lid. I used my heat gun to remove the bubble from the resin on the top, but ensured I didn't get the box hot. So I really don't think the varnish melted. So I'm not 100% sure what happened. This meant sanding the box again. I waited to do more varnish as I didn't want to have to sand the box again. Next I installed the iris fold on bottom of the box and poured the resin. This took 3 days since there are 7 layers of resin at the bottom. This time I used a hairdryer to remove the bubbles (which didn't work very well, but it did help me to distribute the resin well). I made the bottle of walrus tears at this point (I had made a bottle of Drink Me potion, but decided I really wanted to stay entirely in the looking glass world). The bottle is filled with Prima's blue glass micro beads, silica gel (found in freshness packets), a little bit of glitter and some glass and plastic white pearls. I use plastic pearls because they will float. Then I filled the bottle with resin. I also did the pendants at this stage also. They are done by pouring a thin layer of resin, letting that sit long enough to solidify but not fully cure, then I placed the flowers and leaves (they are JohnnyJumpUps/Violas) in and pour the second layer.
After finishing all that, guess what? I still had more dribbles on the outside of the box. That time however I think it was resin I dripped (totally my bad) so I had to sand the outside in a couple places again. Then I applied the final layers of varnish both on the inside and on the outside. There was an issue of the lid sticking to the edge of the box and it pulled a bunch of paint off the lid so I decided to install ribbon to protect the edge. This really fixed part of the issue but the paint was still sticking and pulling the paint off. I did give it several days with the lid open to let it cure and mind your I'm in New Mexico so humidity isn't an issue. ANY way I went ahead and painted some of the ribbon with the metallic (since it now had metallic in spots) and then sealed that with the varnish. I left the edges on the lid without varnish. Then let it cure for several more days with the lid open and that seemed to take care of the issue.... hopefully.
Here I came back to the cabochons. I went and bought some Diamond Glaze and used that. The first set done with the glaze was fine but the images came off. The next set seemed good and those are the finals. They seemed loose at the time and I really wish I had trusted my instinct because in the end the images on some of them ended up looking really weird. I think the images were loose and when the glue on the backs cured it pulled the image away from the glass. Still they came out decent and usable. Honestly I just couldn't bear to do them again, however I will not use the diamond glaze again.
Next, I installed the hardware. There was a slight gap with the feet and the box so I placed some small beads in those spaces to tie in the purple crystals. I used Prima's 3D gel to attach everything. I then attached the box corners with Prima's 3D gel, then used varnish in the areas where the gel changed the finish. For the embellishments on the top I would place a few things, then glue the lighting into place and let it cure, then place a few more and place some more lighting. This part took several days and since I had had so many issues (quite a few not mentioned) I didn't want to rush this step and have it go sour. As I was installing I realized I had a gap and so I found the cloche fit best, so I had painted it with patina past just incase anyway, but I put it together here. It all came out beautifully in the end!!! I really wish the camera had caught magic of this box in person. If I didn't cover something or you have any other questions or comments feel free to pm me :D
Thank you all so much for looking! I always appreciate all of you taking the time to stop and look at my work! TTFN