Upcycling a Vintage Jewelry Box
Upcycling a Vintage Jewelry Box
Upcycling a Vintage Jewelry Box

As well as collecting antique books, designing shirts and homewares, and creating clipart, I enjoy a few different traditional handicrafts including decoupage. Lately I’ve been giving makeovers to vintage jewelry boxes and it’s a lot of fun. I took pictures throughout the process when working on this one so I could share it with you.

This is how the jewelry box looked when I brought it home from the thrift store. Not exactly a show piece but it had good bones! The interior was ok but a bit boring and had a little paint in places. I decided that instead of trying to clean it I would re-line the inside – but that would have to wait until I finished the outside.

The first step was to remove and clean the hardware. Soaking for a bit in soapy water and then lots of scraping did the trick.

Next was removing the old paint from the jewelry box. This took quite a lot of time! I also used soapy water for this; just plain dish soap with water in a spray bottle. After spraying a surface down I let it sit for about a minute and then started scraping with an old, dull butter knife. Here we are partway through.

After a light sanding all over and painting with a couple of thin coats of primer, it’s on to the really fun part!

Now we’re ready to get creative. I started by choosing the napkins I’d be using for decoupage. I thought these hummingbird and fuchsia flower napkins were really pretty and from there I decided I would use a soft pink as my base color, with green hardware.

Here we are after painting with a color called Hyacinth Pink. It’s a little darker than I wanted, but we can soften it later. That’s my cat, Squeaky, napping in the background.

Next up was the hardware. I sanded each piece lightly and painted with a clear varnish to help the paint “grab on”. Then I used two coats of a color-shifting paint that shifts from green to gold depending on the lighting.

Using decoupage I applied the napkins. As you can see, because you’re using just the top ply of the napkin it’s thin enough that the base color will show through. I’ve got the hardware back in place here as well, and have done some light distressing using sandpaper.

I liked it but wanted a more faded, antique look so I lightly sanded the decoupaged areas and applied a wash of very watered down white paint all over. After whitewashing:

Much better! On to the interior. Re-lining a jewelry box is time-consuming and a bit tedious but gives great results. I used a deep shade of fuchsia plush velvet. Luckily I didn’t have to re-create the foam and cardboard inserts as the originals were still usable. I cut pieces of velvet a little bigger than each of those and used a spray adhesive to apply to the front of each piece. Then I mitered the velvet corners and glued the overage to the back of each piece so the edges were covered. This can get extremely messy so I advise spraying your pieces inside a cardboard box! After letting the glue cure, I used spray adhesive again to attach the lining to the interior.

Last I applied a few coats of a matte polyurethane varnish. Here’s my finished piece still on my worktable with some of my materials:

And here are some nicer photos below. A project like this takes some time but can be low cost and well worth the time you invest. I hope some of you are inspired to create your own unique jewelry boxes!

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