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The Wizard's Boxes
Summer, 2003

I am always looking for closed containers because some of my earliest projects have become so dust-filled and faded because they weren't protected. I also want my grandchildren to be able to keep their little projects for a long time, too.

I was delighted to find this little clear plastic box at the dollar store. I bought four of them, and they became containers for a grandchildrens project, The Wizard's Room. Now I wish I had purchased all they had. Next time I looked they were all gone and they were great for small scenes.

I removed the cardboard liner, which became a perfect pattern and base for the stone printie I wanted to use for walls and floor. I first printed out on a rather hefty grayish stationery, but then remembered we had card stock. So I used the first prints to cover the cardboard for the outer layer that would show through the walls, and used the cardstock for the inner walls and floor.

By this stage, however, I could see that having the floor in the same stone was overkill, so, back to the drawing board.

Among my stash I found this textured piece of vinyl wallpaper from a wallpaper sample book. It was too beige-y with the other stone, though, so I coated it with grey stone acrylic paint and wiped it off.

It made a much more satisfactory floor. (The dark shading you see is shadows from something caught when I was photographing.)

This is how the stone paper looked from the back and sides when inserted in the box. The walls and floor fit very snugly.

Satisfied then, I added a few strategic glue drops and used clips to hold it all in place while it dried. As you can see, the box is being used so that the lid opens from the bottom.

By this point, I could tell that this process was way too difficult for the kids to do, so I made all the walls and floors myself.

I had gathered items that they could use in their boxes and put them in little ziplock bags so that each one could have his own bag. I provided a ready-made book, an old map, a shield and sword, a crown, a bottle to be filled with potion, a tankard, a brass eyelet for a candleholder, a small bag for gold coins and beads for a couple of bottles. Most of the items were alike, although some of the bottles and the "shields" were slightly different, and they each got a different pot, bucket or basket. I had once made a bunch of bundt type cakes for a swap and didn't use them, so their wizard has a cake, too!

Among the items they made were a wand, a candle and a shelf.

They made their tables from chess pieces that I had picked up at Goodwill once, and six-sided paper mache disks that I found on clearance at Michaels among Christmas decorations; no idea what their original purpose might have been. The kids painted their table top in the stone color of their choice, then glued it atop the chess piece. When their shelves were dried they also painted them the same stone color.

They also made a wall hanging using a piece of fabric glued to a backing, cut to shape, and glued over a toothpick.

Here is seven year old Jenna with her completed Wizard's Box. The first picture shown above is an overview of Jenna's box.

They made the shelf from two little wood braces and a rectangular woodsie and painted it with their choice of stone color. The strange little candle in the silver vase was cut from a berry-type branch. Although it is not visible here, there is a fine thread-like something coming right up from the center that looks just like a candle wick. The wizard food on the right is Fimo pressed into a candy mold, baked, and then a glaze added.

Each of the children had an empty bottle; they chose the colors for their own particular potion. I made the bags from a loose-weave cloth (and this close-up makes me realize we should've cut away the frayed edges to make it look more in scale). The gold is made from confetti stirred into a mixture of gold paint and glue.

The crystal balls were from an ornate Christmas ornament; their bases were large brass eyelets. The tarot cards were cut from a printie, as was the book cover. The fancy potion bottle is beads. The candle is a painted cut-down toothpick.

The wand is a fancy toothpick painted black then touched with gold; the copper mug was a commercial piece, although the boys' mugs were made from shell casings and cut-off jewelry findings.

The black iron pot on the wall is a measuring spoon from a plastic set I found at the dollar store. Jenna decided she wanted her crown (a silver wedding ring from the Weddings section of Michaels) looped over the sword (an appetizer pick, with its handle painted gold). The basket is an old one I made years ago from twisted raffia and antiqued. It contains a shield (fancy button) and an old map.

While we were gluing things in place Jenna said, "I just LOVE using these tweezers!" I told her, "Now you are truly a miniaturist because miniaturists love their tweezers."

This is the label for the back of the box. She had already written "buy Jenna" before I was aware of the misspelling, so I didn't say anything.

Later, not long before she went home, she asked me, "Nana, do you do any recycling?" I responded, "Honey, almost everything a miniaturist does is recycling!" She then said, "Well, since I love my tweezers, I am a miniaturist, too, so I'll tell my teacher that I am recycling."

Here is Joseph with his wizard's box. We took photographs in a hurry because we were packing the car to take him home to his parents.

Here is an overview of Joseph's box. He used a few more items than Jenna did. His drinking cup is on the shelf with the wizard's food, and his iron cooking pot is hanging on the right wall.

Joseph elected to hang his shield on the wall and to put his sword in the right corner.

That's his crown leaning against the book, and you get a glimpse of his wand in the left corner. He also wanted to hang that sun face.

His gold coin bag is over there near the sword. He asked if he could fill a second bucket with wizard stuff; I said yes, and he selected some interesting things to fill it.

Here's a closep of his crown, the crystal ball, book and candlestick.

Unfortunately, we were in a hurry so this picture is a bit out of focus. The bucket has a lizard crawling out of it, and some other interesting things that don't show up here. That's a block of wizard's cheese.

I didn't get pictures of Joel's box, unfortunately, because he hadn't decided how he wanted things glued in place.

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