How to Make Mini Matchbox Treasure Chests
Jane Foster is one talented designer, you may have spotted her beautifully bold and simple designs whilst out and about, as she’s created prints for Ikea and Make International to name but a few.
We’re super excited as Jane is going to be casting her expert eye over the entries for our Mini Makers Colouring Competition, and help to pick the winner from each age group.
As we’re in the thick of half term, and it’s a bit wet and grey outside, we couldn’t resist sharing this great project with you from Jane’s new book, Creative Crafts with Kids. Which upcycles old matchboxes and turns them into the perfect secret mini treasure chests for little ones.
Imagery and text courtesy of Creative Craft With Kids by Jane Foster published by Pavilion. Photographs by Rachel Whiting.
As a child, I loved looking at my mum’s little boxes of precious belongings – an agate brooch, a silver bracelet and so on.
Children love secret treasures that mean something to them, whether that is pebbles from a beach or favourite bits of jewellery, and these decorated mini chests are a great and inexpensive way to store and display them.
- Basic craft kit -It’s a good idea to have a small collection of tools available so that you are ready to get going as soon as creativity strikes.
These are my essentials, but it is always fun to build your collection!
- Pencils – I use standard HB pencils – they are easy to buy and easy to rub out.
- Scissors – Sharp medium-size scissors for cutting paper (be sure to keep a separate pair for cutting fabric).
- Glue stick – Use a Pritt Stick or a cheaper equivalent – they are easy to use, not very messy and wash off hands and clothes. They are very affordable and available from the high street.
- Ruler – A cheap 30 cm (12 in.) plastic one is fine for measuring, but you will need to use a metal ruler as a cutting/scoring edge when using a craft knife!
- Cutting mat and craft knife (for adults’ use only) – A great advantage of cutting mats is that they usually have squares on them; these are very handy for registration and for cutting accurate right angles. I prefer to use either an A4- or A3-sized mat. If you don’t have a cutting mat, use a thick sheet of cardboard instead.
- Masking tape – This is available to buy online or at most DIY shops. The cheapest version will be fine.
- Tracing paper – I find tracing paper really useful – it’s cheaper to buy it as an A4 pad. If you don’t have any tracing paper, thin, white printing paper works too!
- A few matchboxes (they can vary in size)
- A few vintage postcards (or new ones)
1. Place your matchbox on the back of the postcard and mark the height of the box. Draw a pencil line across the whole postcard at this level, then cut along your drawn line.
2. Look at the front of the postcard and select an area in the centre that you want to feature on top of the box. Place the box in the appropriate position on the postcard strip (still on the reverse). Using a pencil, lightly draw around the vertical sides to mark where the first folds will be. Then turn the box on its side, place one edge on each of the vertical lines in turn, and draw along the other edge to mark the second set of folds.
3. Using a craft knife (or a very sharp pencil) and a ruler, gently score along these lines to create sharp folds in the postcard. (Be careful not to cut through to the other side!).
4. Fold the postcard around the matchbox and trim off any excess card if there’s too much of an overlap. Using a glue stick, stick the postcard onto the matchbox. (It’s a good idea to leave the matches in the box, as they help support the box and prevent it from caving in when you press the postcard onto it.)
5. Once your box is dry, empty out the matches and choose another piece of postcard to stick in the bottom of the drawer. You can find the appropriate size by drawing around the drawer and then cutting it out just inside the lines.
Using scaled-down illustrations
I love drawing in black ink and usually choose to design one-colour prints in my everyday work. I decided to take a few of my illustrations and reduce them to 25% on my printer to produce mini versions to cover some matchboxes with. (I experimented with scaling these down by different percentages to enable me to cover both very small and larger boxes.)
I chose characters with stripes to cover some boxes and then these became treasure boxes to house our mini striped pebble collection. (Striped humbugs would have been fun in a larger box, too – although I’m not sure how long they would have lasted uneaten!) I also lined the drawer with the same illustrations. You could try the same thing with children’s drawings, which can be very charming.
Top Tip! Cover the matchboxes with white paper first, so that the matchbox logo won’t show through.