Tuesday, March 4

Rangolis on jewelry boxes

During my recent trip to India, I looked around at craft shops in vain for pain wooden boxes that one could paint on. Tough luck. I did find some cute gift boxes made of bamboo possibly, but with no scope of personalizing.

That's a reason I love Dollar Tree and the craft shops out here.

If you are an avid scourer for stocks, you can get desktop wooden boxes that are unpainted for as little as $1.

I love painting rangolis on these boxes, although it is a tedious process. I do not prime the wood with a wood primer before getting started, but I do sand-paper it thoroughly before starting the paint work.

For more instructions about painting wood boxes, you can also refer to my ancient post: Rangoli on a jewel box

A tip or two with those instructions though - things I learnt during the numerous painting sessions.

For the initial lot of boxes, I stuck to glossing them with Mod Podge. But switched to Martha Stewart Crafts High Gloss Finish. I am happier with the results although I don't think it is the perfect one.

  • When you sandpaper the inside of the boxes, make sure you scrape more from the surface near the box hinges 
  • Do not give extra coats on the surface connecting the lid and base. Doing so could make the paint stick and peel
  • Always paint the narrow frame top that connects lid and base in the end, and leave it to dry more than you would possibly dry the rest of painted sides
  • For intricate designs like the rangolis, using a zero size paintbrush helps- stock more than one Size Zero paint brush though
  • Stick to simple designs for a start and move on to more intricate designs as you progress with a few boxes
  • If you wish to spray paint them, try as much as possible, to use the paint outdoors 
  • Spray paint may not need more coats the way hand painting would need, but you need to use masking tape extensively for the hinges and latches
  • Cut large plastic covers to rectangles and place over newspapers when you spray paint 
  • Paint about three boxes simultaneously. It helps save time, because by the time the painted surface of your first box dries up, you are done with the third box
    • When you use a brush to gloss the painted boxes, make sure you use single strokes and do not rub the glossy finish 
    • Keep a container of water handy so you can drop the gloss brushes in it quickly
    • Make sure you wash the brushes with soapy water after each session of painting
    • My personal experience with olive green or camp green craft paint over orange surface has not been great
    • Whites over dark surfaces work great for me, but if you have any tidbits you can share, please tell
    The yellow box I have painted above is my favourite. These were the colours used on the doorstep of my Ammumma's home in Chennai. The tikka you see on its side, is called Kalyana Bottu in Telugu. It is the design used as bindi on the foreheads of brides and grooms in Telugu marriages.

 Rangoli patterns can be used on plain cardboard cartons too. Give the experiment a shot and let me know how it goes. After a lot of dilemma, I learnt to use gold coloured paint over a painted surface. I was not so satisfied with the first attempt, but my friend who I gifted the box to, was thrilled. This one is a bright red-gold combo, but I tried a gold over maroon surface and gifted the box to my mom during my India trip. The result was good.

My friend Ashwini Deshpande, of the popular Indulge Ashscorner food blog shared a picture of one of my boxes.

These boxes are a sample of what I regularly paint. I did a bunch of them more, to gift away in India. The most unexpected reaction was from my friend's kids.

You would assume that such boxes would be a hit with women, those who are religious and otherwise, to store their jewellery and tiny treasures. I stashed one such painted box for my friend's mom and some kid stuff, all in one tote, when I went to meet them during the India trip. The kids - a six year old and a two-year old, saw the box first, and decided it was the best toy in the world for them.

For the next couple of hours, they took turns in playing with it, smiling at it, opening and closing it a hundred times, watching its corners and carrying all over their home! My protests that the box was meant for their grandma hardly mattered. And we presume that kids take a fancy only to bright coloured plastics!

The next time you paint a wooden box, do not be sure only 20 plus and 30 plus people will like it. My slow discovery -- no age-bar for rangoli box love.

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