If, like me, you’ve got bits and pieces from last year’s garden lying around, here’s a fun, inexpensive, and relatively easy mixed media project to use them up. Sometimes called a spirit box, I have called mine a heart’s desire box. This project uses a small, covered tin inside which you put a message, affirmation, or even a secret wish. The finished piece is then hung on the wall as a decorative object.I used rose hips, a single rose petal and two halves of a seedpods from a baptisia (the blackish almond-shaped objects behind the starfish) from my stash of dried garden plant materials. The shells and starfish were all found on various trips to Florida. The face is the only thing I bought, but anyone who works with polymer clay would likely have a selection of these to chose from. The face was very inexpensive, but you could substitute a button or piece of costume jewelry, if you preferred. The point is to use objects that have meaning or beauty for you. Spirit boxes are so personal it’s impossible to “do it wrong,” because the whole project is about you and using what you love.
You’ll need to play around with the objects until you achieve a pleasing effect. I gave my figure reindeer moss hair and a swirl of miniature pinecones, dusted with silver paint. Not all spirit boxes are as three-dimensional as mine, though.
The magazine, Clothe, Paper, Scissors(Sept/Oct. 2013), has a great, detailed how-to article on making a spirit box written by Lyn Belisle. I’ll be giving you the basics of what I did, but none of the techniques are difficult. I would rate this as a beginner/low intermediate project.Start with the tin. I used a Altoids tin, poked holes in the middle of the front with nail to run the copper wire to hang it with. I used Tim Holtz distress stain to cover my tin. You could use any spray paint you have on hand, or gesso it. The tin will be mostly invisible when you’re finished, except from the side. The next step is to create the front piece. For this you need some heavier cardstock or light cardboard, crisscrossed to make a “T”.Glue lightweight (like tissue paper) decorative paper to the T-shape. Fold and glue to the back.
To attach ephemera, including the head, use a hot glue gun. I have a small hot glue gun that doesn’t burn you easily, but if you’re doing this project with kids, you’ll have to be the judge whether they’re adept enough to use a hot glue gun alone.
One of the hardest aspects of laying out the ephemera, at least for me, was keeping everything I wanted to use in scale. Several items I wanted to use were just too big and overpowered the whole piece. I hesitated over the birch bark wrapped stick and ended up laying it at an angle. This made it feel less over-sized—at least to me!
When you’re happy with the interior and the front, glue the front piece to the tin with hot glue or E-6000, which is a jewelry glue (smelly but strong). When the front is thoroughly set, place your message inside and hang up by the wire loop.
I think you’ll really enjoy seeing something of your garden or from your past used in this new way.
Let me know, if you try this.
I’d love to see the results.