Thursday, March 28, 2013

Refurbished Musical Jewelry Box

It's amazing the things you can find at a good ol' fashioned garage sale.  J and I keep an eye out for community-wide ones to enhance the variety and make early Saturday morning outings worthwhile.  On our last outing we picked up the records for our record bowl tower.  Once we even snagged a mannequin bust covered in blood - perfect for our Halloween décor (He's named Bob, by the way).  Although many people think garage sales are a great place to find cheap DVDs and secondhand workout clothes, we've learned that we're much more successful when we're looking for strange items to repurpose or refurbish.  It's just one more way we foster our creativity and protect our bank account.

On one of these garage sale adventures, a friend of ours discovered this small, four drawer jewelry box.  It plays music when you open the bottom drawer.  When she picked it up, it was for our Halloween party.  I papered the inside, removed the panel in the front door (which sported a dainty painting of a Victorian lady), added some small childlike findings and a battery powered tea light.  It might not seem terribly horrible to you in this photograph, but as part of a décor designed by a fabulously dysfunctional family, it made a wonderfully creepy addition.

After the party was over and boxes were getting labeled "Halloween Storage," it occurred to me that this little gem most likely wouldn't fit in with future years' themes.  It became my personal challenge to decide how the piece could be re-born, for a second time.  I should note, when we got the piece, it was missing at least one handle.  We had already taken out the panel on the door, and I really liked being able to see through it like a frame.  Therefore, steps one and two were easy:  pick out new drawer handles (so that at least the three interior ones matched) and find a piece of glass for the door frame.

Luckily, the door was a standard picture frame size.  I stole the glass from a cheap, and as I remember broken, frame and superglued it into the same groove where the original artwork sat.  As for the drawer handles, I had to be sure they were shallow enough for the door to close properly.  I also wanted them to add a little visual interest, since the door was now see through.  I grabbed our jewelry-making stash and picked out three freshwater pearl beads that were just large enough to be nestled on top of the holes from the previous handles.  I set them aside and began brainstorming paint colors.

As it was traditionally a jewelry box, I thought it would be nice to keep the box in our bedroom.  At the time our bedroom was full of the bold colors of India and south Asia.  I found a nice red wine shade and a bold orange and got to work with a combination of brushes.  I used cheap sponge applicators (the little black wedge ones on a stick) for the large flat surfaces.  This allowed brush strokes to appear minimal.  Various detail brushes and various levels of patience were needed for the frame, molding and decorative details.  As it dried it looked a bit like this:

Once the painting was finished, I was somewhat dissatisfied with the two-tone look.  It wasn't flashy enough for all the detail of our other bedroom décor.  I also felt like many of the box's fine details were not as visible under a couple coats of paint.  To remedy, I grabbed a gold paint marker and went to town tracing the grooves and details on nearly every surface of the box.  It helped cover my shotty detail painting as well by creating a crisp line between the red and the orange.  A great example is the filigree on the top of the box.  I really wish I had a before and after of the gold addition, but you'll just have to believe me when I say it made a huge difference.

After the paint and paint marker were good and dry, we superglued the pearls to the interior drawer fronts, reattached the hinges, and voila!  A like-new box with a nostalgic old song.  Through several moves, the jewelry box has held many different items.  Right now it's in my studio, but I think it's going to be making its way back toward the bathroom sometime soon.  I'm growing out my hair and desperately need something to corral all my barrettes and bobby pins.

The moral of this post is:  take a chance on your creativity!  Oh, and go to garage sales...with some room in your trunk for unexpected finds.  You never know when someone else's junk, and the random supplies in your craft closet, might become a family treasure.

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