Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Nature's Toolbox Tutorial

Hello friends! Today I have a mixed media tutorial to share with you made for this month's Eileen Hull Art With Heart challenge, Spring Break. I also had lots of fun using DecoArt's Media paints.

Eileen's newest release with Sizzix is called 'Vintage Travel', and contains so many great dies. The one I used here is the Toolbox Box. I just love the shape of an old toolbox and it made me think of a box filled with some tools for life, in the shape of quotes relating to nature. I made a little accordion booklet to fit inside the box. The techniques in the tutorial work just as well for art journaling, cardmaking or scrapbooking. 

Start by die cutting the toolbox from mat board. This is an XL die so you need the Extended Cutting Pads. You can also use chipboard.

Coat the matboard with a thin layer of gesso to give a good surface for the paint.

Paint the box part (not the lid) with Green Gold and Phthalo Green Yellow Fluid Acrylic paint. This paint has very much pigment, you only need to use a little bit. Also paint the two side pieces. Later I decided to paint the rectangle to the far left all the way to the top, first I was planning to let the blue extend onto the box itself.

Paint the lid and the top of the side panels blue. Mix a little Cerulean Blue into Tinting Base to get two lighter shades of blue. I enjoyed using the Tinting Base to get lighter shades of my colours.

I used stencils by Stencil Girl to build up the scene, namely the Camping Stories stamps for the scenery, and the Uplifting Words for the sentiments. Mix a little paint into Modeling Paste and apply through the stencil with a palette knife. Immediately clean the stencil.

At this stage, I realised that I wanted some script stamping on the project. It would have been better to have done that before starting with the modeling paste. Randomly stamp text here and there with Jet Black ink.

I continued mixing various greens into the Modeling Paste to get variation among my trees. Let the paste dry before continuing with the next tree, to avoid smudging.

Continue adding more trees, and layer some of them on top of each other. The small solid tree in particular, looks great layered in front of the others. I also painted the tent.

I added some texture with a stencil and a mix of blue's and the Tinting Base. 

Texture was also added in the same way to the green area. Deepen the colours in some areas and add shadows. The lid was stamped with two small sentiment stamps by Wendy Vecchi. I liked the typewriter font of the one to the left on the lid so much that I stamped it here and there on the background too. 

Apply a strong adhesive on the flaps. I used Ranger's Wonder Tape. The Scoreboards dies both cuts and scores the material, which makes these projects very easy to assemble.

Glue the two pieces for the handle together and attach the handle like this, also with a strong adhesive.

Dry-brush Raw Umber around the edges and use it to cover up any white joints.

Add a tiny bit of Titanium White here and there for highlights.

I painted my toolbox with Soft-Touch Varnish to protect it and to give it a unified look - avoiding that some parts were shinier or matter than others. This varnish gives a wonderful matte look and feels great to the touch, especially if you add more than one coat. Always let it dry in between. 

The forest is one of my absolute favourite places and I had fun creating this textured forest scene.

The mix of greens in the trees adds interest. It is very easy to layer Modeling Paste in this way, as long as you let it dry in between.

I really like this tent, it reminds me of tenting in the nature in similar tents as this one.

After I had stencilled 'whispered' on the lid of the toolbox, I got the idea for the title of the box. I liked the idea that the wind whispered advice from nature.

Here you can see the sentiments stamped on the top. I missed the first line of the one to the left, and restamped 'every' twice, to cover it up and to make it seem planned.

Isn't this a great little sentiment? I thought it fit well on a nature themed project.

The back of the box looks like this, with more trees and another word.

With paint, paste, stencils and stamps you can easily build up textured backgrounds.

The design on the side panels roughly lines up with the one on the front and back.

I also stenciled a word on each side panel.

Here's the second side panel, with another part of the forest.

I made an accordion booklet to keep inside the box, with the quotes I wanted to use. This is what it looks like folded up.

Here's the unfolded accordion, a long forest scene with stamped and printed sentiments and quotes.

Simply fold a piece of paper into an accordion. Mine is 16 x 3.5 in, and folded at 1 3/4 in intervals. I made the background in the same way as the box, again starting with gesso.

The only difference when it comes to the background is that the trees and tent were added with just stenciling paint. I didn't use the paste since I wanted the accordion to fold together easily.

I printed some of my favourite sentiments about nature and cut into strips. 

I'll try to remember to open this Nature's Toolbox full of wise advice whenever I feel stressed about something. 

This is how the toolbox opens. It is also a great place for a little gift.

I hope you will join us in the challenge, there is a chance to win a Vintage Travel die. Thank you so much for looking!

Happy Crafting!




Paint: DecoArt Media Fluid Acrylics: Cerulean Blue, Raw umber, Phthalo Green Yellow, Green Gold, Cobalt Turquoise Hue, Sap Green, Titanium White
Medium: DecoArt Media: White Gesso, White Modeling Paste, Tinting Base, Soft-Touch Varnish
Stamps: Wendy Vecchi Stamper's Anonymous: Art Comforts


  1. Lovely Anna-Karin, the nature theme is gorgeous and I love the coordinated little accordion book. Tracy x

  2. This is so wonderful Anna-Karin!! I love all the texture and painterly feel of it (and the theme!)

  3. Fabulous tool box, love the mini album and your painting is beautifully do, love the landscaping and layers.

  4. I absolutely love the little quote book, there are some fantastic quotes in there and your tool box is just incredible - I love it!! Anne x

  5. I love that your beautiful creation! Really fantastic!

  6. So much detail, just love it! Don't you love the paint?

  7. a truly wonderful piece!! love it all especially the little mini inside!!

  8. Great project. Beautifully stamped.

  9. Luv the way you build up a page!

  10. Beautifully done - both the tutorial and the tool box is WOW!

  11. Glorious - the blue/green shades are just perfect in my eyes - what an enchanting project.
    Alison xx

  12. Anna-Karin...this is truly beautiful and such a creative piece. You never cease to amaze me. Love the very natural feel of this piece. The soft muted colors are so pretty and all of the stamping and layers of art really make for a beautiful little die cut box. You have done both Eileen Hull and DecoArt proud!


Thank you so much for leaving a comment! Happy Crafting!