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Upcycling Cigar Boxes: Trash to Treasure

My parents have lived in the same house for over 50 years and never tossed out anything that might be useful. Moving home has meant going through decades of paperwork, collections, treasures, and lots of junk. Combing through the numerous attics, crawlspaces, closets, and storage rooms has been both physically and mentally exhausting. The last area to clean out was my Dad’s workshop. As an aerospace engineer who could fix anything, his tools and supplies were carefully stored and labeled, and he always knew exactly where to find the right sized hammer or plumbing parts. Some of his storage containers were a dozen or so old cigar boxes that belonged to my grandfather. While I donated the contents to neighbors and our local handyman, I decided to keep the boxes.

So, what to does a creative person do with stacks of old cigar boxes in various states of disrepair? The boxes in the best condition were cleaned up and passed along to each of Dad’s four grandsons filled with photos and other small mementos. As for the rest, I’ve been busy upcycling each box with my unique combination of paint and collage.

Starting with some basic box repairs and fresh coat of paint, patterned washi tape gets applied to bind all the edges and re-enforce seams. Each box top is embellished with a collage design (e.g., pears, sunflowers, or butterflies) using my handmade marbled paper and other colorful accents. When complete, the boxes are sealed with a few coats of matte Mod Podge.

These new treasure boxes are now suitable for display and several have been requested as special gifts for friends and family. As for the rest...Well, I have them neatly stacked up in my studio and have started filling them up with pencils, pens and art supplies.

Hmmm...Maybe I’m a bit more like my Dad than I’d like to admit.

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