Practice, not perfect. (having a go at making some boxes)

Last February I took part in a box making workshop with our fantastic Book Arts team, and have not found the time since then to put those skills into practice. 

Until now. 

I had a plan in my head to make some boxes to hold teaching samples for our conductive & reactive ink workshops, and thought I would do this during the Easter break, with the help of Tilly and Rahel.

It was not to be. 

A hurried Plan B came into being as we were told we’d be working from home, and that plan was, quickly grab some materials and worry about the rest later.

What could go wrong?

My first task was to take over the kitchen table, and set everything up nice and neatly to try and emulate the serene environment of the @book.arts.workshop. I felt very pleased with myself at this point. I even Instagrammed.

Ariel view of table with tools laid out

I had tools, some materials, the box I’d made a year ago as a reference, and I’d also managed to find my scribbled notes from that workshop. Ready.

First obstacle. No board chopper.

I set to work with a sturdy craft knife and ruler. (carefully and making sure to keep my fingers out of the way of course)

Slow progress but not impossible and soon I was ready to start gluing.


Washable PVA does not dry quickly.

I swapped to a multi purpose PVA, still water based, but thicker and stronger and happy to dry quickly. 

If you only have washable, don’t worry it will work, just much slower.

Image of two types of glue, washable and multi purpose PVA.

Time for covering.

I had brought some book cloth from the workshop, and had some at home already.

Following my notes, and I cut some shapes and made some folds.

I tested the folds, and then had to cut some slightly different shapes.

Glue time again and then, ta-da!!

It’s a bit uneven and the corners look best from a distance, but it worked!

(I’d like to point out that it is meant to be 3 sided, I didn’t just make a ridiculous mistake)

3 sided crate style box, covered with book cloth

And repeat.

3 boxes, covered in book cloth

Time for the case, and I followed the hardcover guide from the book arts workshop.

I found some left over Christmas wrapping paper to line the boxes and the cases.

Old prints or any scrap paper big enough would work well too.

moving image of box being opened

And repeat.

Three boxes ready for filling with examples!

 3 finished boxes, with an example of contents

So, I had a go, I made mistakes, I swore a bit (a lot) and ended up with 3 functional boxes.

They’re not perfect, but they do what they’re supposed to do and more importantly I learnt from the process, with my skills improving with each one.

One last, and well-known tip worth remembering:

Measure twice, cut once.

Or in my case measure twice, and measure again, just to make sure.

box showing wrong measurements by mistake

Keep practicing…..

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