Louis Comfort Tiffany – a name synonymous with the pinnacle of beauty in the stained glass world.
He created and produced art in the late 1800s to the early 1900s and was one of the main driving gears for the “Art Nouveau” movement. For many, Tiffany’s fame was stained glass windows, but he also made “Fancy Goods” as he called them, which included a large plethora of items including such things as lamps, desk sets comprised of inkwells, letter holders, trays and also boxes such as the ones shown below.
No, I’m not attempting to replicate a Tiffany Stained Glass product here as I am not a glass artisan – my forte is more paper based. But I am taking inspiration from these Antique boxes.
Hmmmm – Now, what would a paper crafter do with Tiffany on her mind:
I started with a Kaisercraft kit SB2105. These kits come un-assembled but when built are a nice sized three drawer chest with the dimensions of 12″ x 9½” x 4¾”. These kits are getting pretty hard to find these days but many hobby stores sell pre-made soft pine chests that would work for this project, too.
Once the kit is assembled, I painted it entirely in satin black acrylic paint. I’m going to be using bright vibrant colors in my paper and the black is going to make them really pop!
I searched through pages of digital downloads on Etsy looking for paper that resembled sheets of ‘slag glass’ . The offerings were slim but these three were what I narrowed it down to. The right sheet looks closer to the colors Tiffany traditionally worked with but I love the fire opal colors in the one on the left so that’s the one I went with.
But this is what kicked off the whole ‘Tiffany’ movement in my craft room – Tim Holtz recently released this Thinlits Die #664153 called Organic. It immediately reminded me of the decorative metal overlay on those gorgeous Tiffany boxes I’ve included above.
What ever type die cutting machine you use (I’m so glad I have a Vagabond), make sure you run this die through three times both backwards and forwards if you’re using a heavier cardstock like I chose.
This is one intricate die cut and it took some time to punch out all the negative pieces but it was well worth the effort.
Even running it through so many times, it still had some points where the cut didn’t go all the way through. I sharp craft knife will fix it.
I sampled a number of embossing powders to make my metal work look real and I thought I might even mix a few like this chunky coppery powder and the ‘Verdigris’ above…
…but in the end I went with Emerald Creek’s Allure Powder Burnt Copper Leaves ( upper right). The mix (middle section) is beautiful but would/will look better on the deeper sea green colored ‘glass’ that will be used on another ‘Tiffany’ project. The pure Verdigris color would look amazing on a rusty background, I can see lots of projects springing from this die cut. For this brighter paper though, I liked the pure coppery gold.
So, how to make paper look like slag glass? DecoArt Triple Thick!
Once I cut the paper and glued it to the front of one of the drawers I let it dry overnight. Then the next day I applied a heavy coat of the Triple Thick and let it dry overnight.
The paper laying on top has not been coated yet – can you see the difference?
Note: Any outside edge of the glass paper I rub on a black Archival ink pad before I glue it on. A white edge of paper would really show up against the black painted background of this piece. Blacking out the edges takes a little extra time but it’s one of those detail steps that makes a huge overall difference in the final appearance of a piece.
I made up quite a few of these die cuts and then I went through on a number of them and cut all the edges to an 1/8″ border all around.
I also cut a pile of 1/8″ strips and then embossed them all. These strips will be the edging pieces that fill in and close up the rest of the decorative metal overlay frame.
These larger sized highly detailed die cuts can be difficult to work with but this was the easiest way I found to do the embossing procedure. First I simply patted an embossing pad all over the front of the die cut. Next, I lay the cut in an embossing tray, sprinkled the powder over the entire cut and using craft tweezers, lifted it up in the tray and gently tapped the excess off.
Once i got it well coated with the embossing powder, I then laid it flat on my craft sheet and ran the heat gun over it just as it lays.
This is one of the sides with the front of the box on the left hand side. I’ll use the top and right side of this die cut and angling it across in a wedge slice.
I’ve marked the dimension of the width and will draw a line across the back from that mark down to the corner. Then I cut this section away from the rest trying to keep the general shape of the plants intact as I fussy cut across.
The piece on the left is ready to get glued on to the chest as the upper portion. The right side piece will go through the same marking and cutting process and will be placed as the lower portion.
Frankly, I’ve had this glue in my arsenal for years but never really found it useful over my Tacky glue – but this was the project it was made for. Beacon’s Fast Finish Decoupage glue is extremely thin/watery glue that dries quickly and is shiny when it dries. Perfect! I covered the back of the die cut – which was not easy with all those little detail cuts. I finally just used a 1/2″ paint brush and working quickly, covered the back of the die cut and put it in place on the drawer. Once there, I positioned it properly and used an acrylic block to keep it pressed down all around until the glue set enough to remove the block. It was just 30 to 50 seconds in total.
The top piece is on now, by cutting the edge of the die cuts 1/8″ all around I’ve given myself an easy way to establish the metal frame that encases the flowers.
Now the bottom piece has been trimmed and glued on as well. But see the little gap on the right where the two pieces don’t quite meet? I cut a piece of one of those 1/8″ strips I pre-made to fit the gap and glue it in.
And now using another of the strips I finish the frame by adding one long piece to the left side of the area. I had to do a bit of fussy cutting to fit around the flowers that went out to the edge, but it all came together fine in the end.
Doesn’t that metal look rich over that gorgeous paper? I love how this is turning out!
I’ve finished up both sides, now for the drawer fronts.
This picture is the result of quite a few hours of work. Using the same technique that was used on the sides, each of the three drawers have been decorated with the embossed metal overlay. I’ve also used a hole punch at the center of each drawer for adding some decorative drawer pulls that run a screw through from the back to the knob in front.
These knobs are from the Tim Holtz Curio Knobs pack. The glass knobs with the old bronze patina metal flower center fit this project like they were made for it!
Moving to the top now. I’ve cut and glued my paper on and also added the Triple Thick. The dimensions of this piece is just a bit too long for standard paper length so I decided to do the top in two equal sections whereas on the drawers I added on a small filler section to each one in different positions so the extension wouldn’t be too noticeable.
The Organic die cut was very close to fitting if I used two and added extra width to the edges where needed. Math is not my favorite part of crafting but sometimes ya just gotta’, ya know. The center section matches the width of both outer sections – Yay, it worked!
I used a rounded corner punch to make my outside corners of the metal work match the rounded corners on the chest.
The back of these chest/apothecary projects are always a bit of a question mark. How much decoration/finish do they need? Each case is different but this one is going to be decorated all around.
I chose to split the back papers into three sections in order to cover it all. I’ll hide the seams in a minute. This paper is just so amazing – I love all the colors swirling around and, though at this stage, the paper is just glued on, once the Triple Thick is added it really has the look of slag glass. Too bad photos don’t/can’t properly show how well this effect came out.
To hide my lines, I made two 1/4″ strips of the embossed metal paper and glued them right over the seams. Next I continued to use corner pieces from more of the embossed panels and after trimming them to fit, glued them down on both outside edges first.
Now for that large inner panel…
Cutting from the long side of one panel I trimmed out a “V” section that went almost to the far side of the panel but stopped short of including the opposite 1/4″ border.
It’s almost invisible here, but I’m showing you the clear acrylic stamping block I’ve been using to flatten these highly detailed die cuts down until the glue can start to set.
And that’s it! All the ‘metal’ overlay is on now. The one problem with embossed paper – is it can chip. I want this chest to be as tough as I can make it, so I poured a good puddle of the Beacon Collage glue into a little bowl and ‘painted’ a coat over all the overlay pieces as a sealer to prevent damage to the embossed work. The glue, as I mentioned above, is very watery and of course it got all over the ‘glass’ as well, but since it dries shiny and clear it all came out very well.
Another project finished. It seems like I’m always saying something like ‘this is my favorite project to date’, but, well, it is! I LOVE how this came out. This piece has all the romantic dreamy beauty and color of treasures from the Arts & Crafts Movement. I can’t wait to play with this technique again.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this experiment as much as I have. This item is now listed in my Etsy shop…
and if you would like to go straight to the “Tiffany Calligraphy Chest” listing, click here…
And now – the final pics:
Thank you for following along – Happy Crafting!
Oh yeah, and Bella and Smokey say hi, too. (They’re helping me make the bed.)