The Countess’s Box

This little box used to belong to a Countess. Seriously. It did. It has an interesting history and boy, do I love anything that has history attached to it. It was given to me by my son’s girlfriend who recently moved to a smaller house and had to get rid of some things. She also knows I love “old things”.  It so happens that in the 1930’s there was a Hungarian Countess by the name of Countess Manon who came to live in Costa Rica. She purchased acres and acres of land in a wooded area not far from where I live today and she built her home there.  My son’s girlfriend came to have the box because her grandfather used to work for the Countess and she’d given it to him along with several other things. The grandfather then gave the box to my son’s girlfriend. Who gave it to me. I don’t know if the Countess brought the box with her from Europe or if she had it made here, but it’s where she used to store her documents and important papers and there are still remnants of an old lock and key mechanism attatched to the lid. The Countess Manon died 20 years ago at the ripe old age of 92 but her memory lives on in the  very elegant residential development that was built and named after her called La Condesa (“The Countess” in spanish) which was constructed on what used to be her land.  So, now I have the box. When I got it, the wood was cracked and had split in parts and some of the nails were exposed. The first thing I did was to hammer them back into place. Then I filled in the cracks with wood putty.

This is what the box originally looked like

I don’t know why I decided to paint the box a pale aqua. I just suddenly had the urge to paint it that color. I had a bit of flat white latex paint left over from another project. And I had acrylic craft paints in several shades, so I mixed in a few drops of blue and green with the white until I had the shade I wanted.

Cool Whip containers are so handy for mixing paint. The best part is that you can just cover left over paint with the lid and use it another day.

After sanding the putty a bit, I applied three coats of the aqua paint inside and out. Then I covered the bottom of the inside of the box with a matching piece of velvet fabric.

The bottom of the box got a soft velvet lining. I just applied Elmer’s glue to the wood and then laid the fabric over it and pressed gently down, then let it dry.

After a bit of thinking as to what else I could do to the box, I remembered that I had some little plywood cut-out butterflies that I had purchased on Ebay last year. I had originally bought the butterflies to glue on the patio walls and I had spray painted them cobalt blue. However, they promptly all ended up on the floor because of the high humidity here which de-activated the glue. So I had  stored them in a baggie until I could find another use for them.

I bought these little wooden butterflies last year on Ebay

I painted them the same aqua shade as the box

After the butterflies dried, I applied a glue wash to them (a few drops of glue mixed with a few drops of water) and sprinkled them with ultra-fine glitter in shades of aqua and light green. Then I hot glued beads and rhinestones on each one.

The butterflies got a dusting of extra fine glitter and then I applied beads, pearls and rhinestones with hot glue

By this time the box had already dried and I remembered that my lovely friend Katiana had given me a bag full of all different kinds of lace trims, so after sifting through them I found a white one that was the perfect width and I glued it all around the sides of the box, much like a little skirt. Then I searched in my bead stash to see what else I might find and I discovered a bag of turquoise colored plastic cabochons left over from a costume project, so I hot glued those on to the lid, alternating them with ivory colored pearls.

Alternating turquoise cabachons and pearls on the lid

I then remembered that someone had given my daughter a birthday gift in a cute little bag that had a small flower arrangement on the top made with dried hydrangeas, jute ties and some foam roses. I had saved the bag thinking that the arrangement might come in handy some day. Now was the day.

I cut out the flower arrangement which was glued on to the corner of this gift bag, and then I hot glued it on to the lid of the box

Now the box had lace, beads and flowers.  All it needed was the butterflies.

The finished box

The inside of the lid got a butterfly decoration too. That’s a little fake brass key next to the box.

Close up

This little faux keyhole came off a decorative plaque that I had taken apart and re-used the frame some time ago. I never thought I’d find a use for a decorative lock and key set that doesn’t work. But they were perfect for this little box. I just hot glued it on.

I added these little beaded strips as lid supports so that the lid wouldn’t fall back when I opened it. I just hot glued them on to the inside of the lid and box

Here’s the little faux key that goes with the faux keyhole.

And that, my friends, is the story of the Countess’s box. My daughter worriedly asked me the other day if I thought that perhaps the countess would be upset that I altered her little box. I like to think the Countess would be pleased as punch. That didn’t seem to convince my daughter though, who has probably  been watching too many episodes of  “Haunted Collector” lately………

Linking to Show and Tell Friday on:


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s