Magic with Elaine

'Just living is not enough,' said the butterfly.
'One must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower.'
        ~ Hans Christian Andersen

As promised, here's part two of my conversation with Elaine, the genius behind Magic Boxes. I have to confess that sharing her with you is a little intimidating. I'm no journalist, and I sure want to do her and her amazing creations justice. So, please don't take my word for how magical her exploding paper boxes are. Go say Howdy, or maybe Cheerio, to her at her website, Magic Boxes Gallery, and her two crafting blogs, Magic Boxes and Crafticious.

Elaine's home is the beautiful London borough of Ealing; not London, TX, but London, UK. Looking inside her magic boxes is just like peaking inside a secret English garden. Though we just met this weekend, quicker than a hiccup Elaine agreed to give us a behind-the-scenes look at how she makes her boxes and, oh my, how one of her magic boxes became a fixture in the Queen's private apartments in Buckingham Palace. I had to know!

Catered Crop: Your boxes have amazing textures and colors. Since Catered Crop is all about "recipes," what are some of your favorite ingredients for making your boxes?


Texture: If I’m making a delicately coloured box such as ivory for a wedding, I use texture instead of colour. My favourite card for this type of box is Stardream or Pearl (double sided). Its reflective surface highlights the embossing much better than mat card. For an extra punch, I lightly brayer over the embossed surface with Rangers Acrylic Paint Dabber – Pearl. It has a fabulously lush sheen and really makes the embossing pop.

The boxes are small, 75mm (2.9“) High x 65mm (2.5“) Wide, opening to 210mm (8.3“) square – so small embossed patterns work best. My favourite embossing folders are; Craft Concepts 'Budding vine' and Cuttlebug ‘Birds and Swirls‘.

Colour: Once I start working with colour subtlety goes out the window – I like it punchy! I use water-based inks, VersaColour and Rangers Distress Inks; I find them much easier to blend.

Using a coloured card base makes the ink colours much more intense, I never work onto white. When I’m using leaf or fern stamps I start with lime green card as a base. VersaColour – lagoon blue, evergreen, fresh green, marigold and canary yellow work brilliantly on this colour card. I prefer mat cardstock – coated card tends to reduce colour strength.

I start by sponging two or three colours across the lime card. Something like canary yellow at the top, fresh green – centre and lagoon blue – bottom, overlapping the colours to merge them together. This makes a wonderful base to then stamp onto.

Equipment: I don’t use anything fancy,  just a kitchen scouring sponge, chopped into small cubes, one cube for each colour and I work on a laminated A4 sheet of white card.

I dab the inkpad onto the laminated sheet, run the sponge through the ink and dab off any excess so it’s almost dry. I sponge across my card using light circular motions. The secret to an even, rich cover is to gradually build the colour depth by applying several light layers. Finally, I stamp onto this using darker ink – VersaColour ‘Evergreen’ is a favourite of mine.

Catered Crop: I noticed in your Butterfly Tutorial you mentioned you used a stamp you designed yourself. Can you tell us a little more about that? Are you stamps available to the public?

I design and make a lot of my own stamps. Most of my boxes are themed so I can design specifically for that, it also allows me to size the stamps so they fit the boxes perfectly. I have an Imagepac Daylight Stamp maker and I love it to bits! I had a web-shop, with my Mum, and we sold some of the stamps there. Unfortunately, as a result of the economic downturn, we made the decision to close the shop last year.

Catered Crop: And, finally, here are the questions I'm really dying to ask. I saw that you were commissioned to make a presentation box for HM Queen Elizabeth and HRH Prince Phillip's 60th Wedding Anniversary (A Royal Anniversary). Oh do tell us more about that. Have you met the Royal Family and do you have any plans for the upcoming Royal Wedding?

Elaine: I was a bag of nerves from start to finish with this box!

I have a close friend who works at Windsor Castle and he asked would I please make a box that would be presented to the Queen on her up coming Diamond Wedding Anniversary.

After seeing the news one evening I decided to base the box on details from Her Majesty’s wedding dress. The dress was on display in a special exhibition at Buckingham Palace. They showed a clip of the Queen walking round the exhibition and she stopped at the display case that held her dress. I was surprised and very moved to see how her eyes sparkled with delight as she pressed her face close to the glass for a closer look.

The box took three weeks to research, design and make. It was made from ivory pearl card; hand embossed and detailed using liquid pearls set with countless 2mm clear gemstones. My youngest son, who was primary school age at the time, gave me a stern telling off because he thought it was very wrong of me not to use real diamonds when it was for the Queen!

I designed several stamps based on embroidered elements from her dress and stamped them using VersaMark and pearl embossing powder.

The explosion was a bouquet of white orchids (her wedding flowers) made from white handmade silk paper. I hand painted the flower details and leaves using Twinkling H2Os lime, orange and yellow.

The relief of finally handing over the finished box is indescribable.

I have never met the Royal Family but my friend meets them regularly. I’m told that Her Majesty recognized her wedding dress instantly and was very happy with her box. It now lives in it’s own, specially made, glass case at Buckingham Palace. I hope she takes it out occasionally.

I have no plans for the Royal Wedding. It would be difficult to make a box without having some prior details of the dress and flowers and I don’t think I’d be privy to that kind of information. Who knows, maybe the first Anniversary!

Catered Crop: I love learning about how creative minds work and the tools, techniques, and especially stories behind the creations. This has been a huge, huge treat for me. Thank you, Elaine, for so generously sharing your creations and your crafting genius with us across the big pond!


Sweet Comments

  1. cardsister says:

    I had a blast here today!  I always enjoy coming to see what you are up to, but "WOW" today was really something!  I bet I read this three times!  It was great and you are quite the writer!  Love it so much and thanks for sharing it with all of us!

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