I’ve always been a crafter, and a collector of craft items. I have large Tupperware bins dedicated to yarn, papers, trinkets, you name it. Sometimes it terrifies me how much random stuff I’ve collected over the years. When I sorted through this plethora of bins the other week, I came across some old cigar boxes that were dying to be remade into something useful and pretty. I had seen an altar box or two that I had fallen in love with when the thought hit me to make my own!
Altar boxes can be keepers of anything your little new age heart desires. The best part? They can look any way you would like them too! There ain’t no rules here. As soon as I finished this one, I had 10 more ideas rolling around in my brain. (I want to make a botany box so damn bad!) This DIY is to show you how mine was made, but I encourage you to use your own imagination and conjure up an altar box unique to you!
- Cigar Box (You can really use any wooden box)
- Scrapbook paper ( I even used old scraps)
- Mod podge
- Acrylic paint (I used gold, silver, and black)
- Gold and or bronze embossing paste
- Paint brush and or sponge brush
- Decorative wood pieces
- Brooches and hair pins
- Paper or sticker letters
- Decorative feet, corner pieces and a lock for wooden boxes (These can be found online or at any craft store)
How To Make an Altar box from a Cigar Box:
First, wipe down the cigar box with a damp rag and remove any hardware that you either plan to replace or no longer want on the cigar box. I recommend keeping the hinges, unless you want the top to be separate from the bottom of the box. From here, I recommend figuring out the placement of your trinkets on top of the box. Make sure your concept is clear. I tried out several scenarios in order to find the right fit for me. By keeping it simple on the inside, I allowed for more space to keep all my weird stuff.
Once you have decided on your concepts and the placement of your embellishments, paint the portions of the box that you want covered. (I painted mine on each side of the top and bottom inside the box.) While the paint dries, measure the portions of the box where you will be using scrapbook paper. I decided to use the velvety paper to cover most of the top of my box, while the lighter colored paper with handwriting was going to be the “carpet” in the bottom of my box.
The strange, almost medicinal writing that I found on another piece of scrapbook paper spoke to me, so I decided to cut them out and collage them onto the inside of the top. I also measured around the sides in order to add the dingy looking checkered paper. (If you can’t tell, my goal was totally the vintage goth princess vibe.) I started from the inside out so that I could work quicker, otherwise I would have been stuck waiting for the top to dry.
Woo Hoo! By now, you should have all of your materials cut, prepped and ready for action. Starting with the scrapbook paper that I wanted inside the bottom of the cigar box, I added mod podge in an X shape on the back using a sponge brush, then added more of the podge on the corners so the paper didn’t curl after time.
My box had four wedges of wood on the inside that were removable. I took them out before I measured and cut my paper. Once glued to the inside of the box, I slid the wooden wedges back in to secure the paper while it dried.
If you have decided to collage the top of the inside of you alter box, try to keep an open mind when podging your pieces. Always start with your bigger scraps and end with your smaller ones. You don’t have you use them all either!
With the additional scraps I had left over of the velvet paper, I decided to add a pocket to the inside of the top of the box. It’s super easy too! Just measure your pocket as you did with all the other scrap pages that you decided to use, but keep at least a half inch of paper to glue and fold on either side. Cover each folder side with the podge and place it inside the box. Take a break and give everything a moment to dry.
***DISCLAIMER THE SECOND***
Keep your pockets small if you want those wooden wedges in your box that I spoke about earlier. Otherwise, it will be more difficult to close once you’re finished and could possibly warp the hinges.
Onto the outside of the box. (The best part!) Before adding the papers, I decided to gold guild the portions of the cigar box that would be showing. Using the gold and silver paints, and a stiff bristled brush, I swept a coat of paint using light feathery swirls. I didn’t want to saturate the wood since I would be using the embossing medium afterward.
Once dry, I used a stippling brush and the same motion over the bare spaces of my box with both the gold and bronze embossing medium. I was a little more generous this time and made sure that I painted more of the box than necessary. The embossing medium takes a moment to dry as well, so as you wait, double check the layout of your accessories on the top of you box.
Now here comes the really fun part.
The top of the box is my absolute favorite. It’s the statement piece that brings your entire altar box together and sets the tone for your intentions. I utilized old jewelry, a badass frog brooch. (This one reminded me of Mary‘s familiar in the show Salem.) I also broke off the tops of some hair pins to fill additional space. After laying down the final piece of the velvety scrap paper, use the E-300 to place your trinkets on the top of the box. It’s that simple! Allow the E-300 to dry overnight (and then some) before tugging on any of the accesories. The next day, I dusted some of the embossing medium over the items on top to give them some depth. I then added the word CURIOSITIES to the very front of the box with some little black sticker letters.
Finally, add your decorative brass feet, corners and latch. Most have tiny screws and instructions that come along with them. You can use a very small hex key to secure them tightly to your box.
And there you have it, your brand new altar box! Fill that bad boy with some runes or smudge sticks. Whatever you want to keep close to your altar.
Send us photos of your boxes if this post inspired you! Tell us what kind of items you keep in and around your altar. Let us know if you have any other great craft ideas for re-purposing cigar boxes.