Painted Tin Boxes in 10 Steps

painted tin boxes, by Irene Rowley

painted tin boxes, by Irene

This weekend I decided to make more painted tin boxes. Last year, I invented a new way of decorating tin with nail polish. I had the sweetest old tin box, and I had a whole set of nail polish that I was not using… the rest is history…

I will tell you how I painted and decorated these tin boxes, but first should give you 3 rules  as an “art scrapper” that I made up while working.  (I will describe the rules in more detail, in my next blog.)

Rule #1. Use What You Have. I used these old tin boxes, this paint, and these paper scraps, ribbons and labels because I had them. They chose me. I did not chose them…something like that.

Rule #2. Do not harm the environment.  The environment is so precious and beautiful…

Rule #3. Rules are Made to be Broken. Vary the instructions as your artistic mind leads you…

So here are my DIY tin box in 10 steps, with pictures:

Before: tin boxes. A CD case and a Ghiradelli Chocolate box I started with two tin boxes, this CD-DVD tin box, and this heart shaped Ghiradelli chocolate box.

Step 1. I spray painted the tin boxes a semigloss black, with the spray paint used on bikes and metals. I allowed this coat to dry a few hours. Note: I chose black, only because that is what I found in the garage. Black is not normally in my repertoire (cough).

tin boxes, painted black

Step 2.  I applied a second coat of white spray paint, also from paint in the garage. I floated this layer lightly over the surface, to look like snowfall and speckles, and then let it dry:

tin boxes, painted white in second coat

Step 3.  I needed to cover the embossed advertising logo on the heart box. At first I was going to cut a thin tin sheet to cover it and make a name plaque, but I did not have tin sheets on hand. So I gathered some salmon colored paper and blue ribbons, threw them down semi-randomly, and immediately liked this idea better:

tin boxes, nail polish, Elmer's Glue, paper and ribbons, in the design phase

Step 4. I cut the paper into artful shapes, with my good old scissors.

Step 5. I  decoupaged the paper cuttings, ribbon scraps and some flower labels, to my tin face surfaces. Decoupage means mixing white Elmer’s Glue with water (half and half), then applying the thinned glue with a small brush to attach the scraps to the tin surface, then applying the glue over the scraps as well.

The heart box just so-happened to get an abstract design, while the DVD box became more symmetrical and quilty-like.  At this point, a paternal art critic in my mind went crazy, preaching to me that women’s quilts are not “good enough” for fine art! I did it anyway. Because this pleases me:

tin boxes, with paper and ribbons decoupaged onto the surfaceb

Step 6. After allowing the decoupage to dry, I took out my nail polish and painted on the dots around the edges to look like rivets in the tin, and dots wherever I pleased, in several shades of pink and red. (Side note: when I wiped off some of the nail polish dots, they removed the white layer of paint, leaving black ghosts… annoying…)

Step 7. I applied golden lettering for the word “Joy”, then continued to paint. You could put a name or some quote, where I put “Joy”:

tin cans, painted with nail polish and lettering applied

Step 8. Once the nail polish painting was dry, I applied a top layer of varnish over the entire surface of the boxes, tops and bottoms.

tin boxes, applying the varnish

Step 9. This morning when the varnish was dry, I very lightly sanded the varnish grain down with fine sandpaper.

Step 10. Inside the boxes, I will glue in a velvet lining (not shown).

And there you have it… painted and decoupaged tin boxes!

finished tin boxes

finished tin boxes

finished tin heart box, joy

finished tin heart box, side view

finished tin heart box, joy, closeup detail

finished tin heart box, closeup detail

3 thoughts on “Painted Tin Boxes in 10 Steps

Would you like to comment on this post?

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *