A purchased shadow box becomes an enchanting holder for deconstructed potpourri and colorful grains, simply by adding dividers made of balsa wood. A faux zinc finish adds an urban accent to the finished craft. Tea lights held in metal cups protect the potpourri from the open flames, but even so, do not leave burning candles unattended.
• Assorted botanicals*
• Unfinished wood shadow box
• Balsa wood strips (the width should match the box depth)
• Three tea lights
• Essential oil for the dried flower petals, if desired
• Warm charcoal gray acrylic paint
• Silver metallic dry artist's pigment
• Clear paste furniture wax
• Clean, soft cloth
• Craft knife with fine saw blade
• Cutting mat
• Foam brush
*Air-dried rose petals, popcorn kernels, and soybeans are shown
1. Cut three balsa wood strips, one the length of the inside box and two the width of the inside box. Mark each short piece at the midpoint. Mark the longer piece in thirds. Cut a notch at each mark, stopping halfway through the strip. Test-fit the balsa wood strips by interlocking the short pieces to the long piece at the notches. Trim the notches as needed until the pieces fit together.
2. Paint the shadow box and balsa wood strips with two coats of warm charcoal gray acrylic paint, letting dry after each coat.
3. Tint some clear paste furniture wax by mixing in a small amount of silver metallic dry artist's pigment. Wipe the wax onto the painted box and balsa wood with a clean, soft cloth. Remove any excess wax, and let dry. Buff with a clean cloth to a soft sheen.
4. Assemble the painted balsa wood strips to make the inside dividers. Place the assembly into the shadow box. Fill the sections with selected dried petals and grains, and add tea lights where desired.
Combine different colored fillings to change your decorating scheme quickly and easily. For a stronger visual effect, fill or top off one section with a single whole dried flower. Or, cover the petals and grains with a secure piece of glass, and turn the shadow box back into a wall-mounted display filled with homespun items and colorful art.
The inside dirt
To make a simple, homemade potpourri, place dried petals, herbs, leaves, seeds, and spices in an airtight container. Place the container in a dark, dry, and relatively warm place. Store this way up to two months, turning the jar periodically to blend the contents.
If a potpourri aroma fades or is faint from the start, revive it with a small piece of paper dabbed with essential oil. Add the paper to the jar and then reseal the jar.
Excerpted from A Garderner's Craft Companion by Sandra Salamony & Maryellen Driscoll (Rockport Publishers, 2002)
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