Preserve childhood mementos in a specially decorated wooden chest. Jane Dean shares the box she made for her son, Alexander
To create this keepsake chest, Jane decorated a wooden box with designs from Crate Paper and acrylic paints that she mixed to match.
We have just redecorated my son Alexander’s bedroom. It was completely re-plastered and painted, and we bought him new furniture too. The contents of his bedroom were thoroughly sorted out, and a lot was given away or taken to the tip. I think he found it easier to part with his toys than I did, although he did keep his Power Rangers and most of his Lego! As I was emptying a bag of rubbish, I found some bits at the bottom: odd pieces of Lego, a toy monster, a character pen top and Pokemon cards. It really hit home that my baby boy was grown up and his childhood was now just a memory. I felt this so strongly that I couldn’t throw those items out; I wanted to keep them to remind me of him as a little boy.
Rather than keep them hidden away in a drawer, I decided to make a gift for Alexander to keep in his new room, a little box of childhood treasures, from life before the room makeover. I had bought a wooden jewellery box to decorate for myself while on holiday in the USA, but I realised that I could decorate it to suit a boy just as easily. I chose these papers from Crate Paper because the colour scheme was ideal: baby blue and lemon yellow representing his early years, and warm brown and orange for later years. I mixed some acrylic paint to match the blue of the paper and painted the box.
For the lid I inked the edges of chipboard puzzle pieces, chosen to fit in with the toys and games theme, and added a photo of Alexander aged two, and one of him at 15. Continuing my theme I stamped star shapes with brown ink around the sides of the box. Inside the box there are two removable raised trays, originally made for jewellery pieces, but also ideal to hold the bits and bobs I’d collected. I painted them yellow and orange to tie in with the papers’ colour scheme.
Inside the box there was even enough space for a dinky album. I made mine to fit inside a small wooden box, a great match for my project and easy to paint the same colour blue.
To create the pages I fastened together tags from a die-cut sheet. Inside I wrote about how proud I have been of Alexander as a teenager. We seem to have escaped the dreaded teenage phase, he has been a joy to me as he has grown up. We have no arguments, he is well mannered and easy going – in fact if he tidied his room then he would be perfect! I also wrote that I miss his childhood, he was such a lovely little boy and I would love to have that time with him over again.
I used the mini album for odd photographs and every one of them brings back lovely memories for me. I lined the trays and the bottom of the box with pieces of patterned papers then placed the toy pieces inside with a few labels for the future. So hopefully one day he can explain to his own son what the toys were, including a mention for Alexander’s childhood hero, the Red Power Ranger! I added some journaling relating the story of how I made him his own Power Ranger suit from a red dance leotard, long white socks and hand-sewn white diamond shapes!
To finish the gift I wrote a message to Alexander on the mirror so that he will see it when he looks at his own reflection. The message reads, “When you see your reflection and look at the man you have become, alwaysremember the boy you have been. Forever my pride and joy, Mummy xxx”
Why not create a box for your own treasures? From holiday souvenirs and wedding mementos to baby trinkets and favourite accessories. Choose papers and embellishments to match and mix acrylic paint to bring the look together.
Top tips for making the mini album:
Jane added a photograph to represent every year of Alexander’s life.
It may take two coats of acrylic paint to completely cover the wood.
The pages of the mini book were created with die cuts that coordinate with the patterned papers.
Blank wooden jewellery box (I bought this in the USA at Michaels, but try HobbyCraft or Panduro Hobby for similar)
Patterned papers – Crate Paper
Jigsaw alphabet – Li’l Davis
Orange chipboard letters – Chatterbox 8 Star stamps – Heidi Swapp
Acrylic paints – Jo Sonja’s 8 Mini book (in box)