More Cigar Box Keepsakes

All paint finished and art attached to top, just waiting for trim.
All paint finished and art attached to top, just waiting for trim.

A month ago I posted a photo of my fine felines sitting atop a box of something that was soon to be another project, as soon as they processed the contents by sleeping on them. They handed those contents over to me I set aside this past weekend to get it done. More cigar box keepsakes!

Basil keeps guard as Mr. Sunshine naps on the boxes in the box and Bella naps next to them.
Basil keeps guard as Mr. Sunshine naps on the boxes in the box and Bella naps next to them.

These cigar boxes are the old-style cardboard type, the ones we probably all grew up with around the house, holding photos and hardware and handkerchiefs. Unlike the wooden boxes I worked with last autumn these boxes are in varying states of wear and tear, written on, watermarked, with holes from thumbtacks and dinged up corners and warped lids, but all of the 13 were usable for brand new works of creative whatever.

Most of them were vintage, decades old, and some, judging by the suggested price of the cigars, were nearly a century old.

The cigar boxes.
The cigar boxes.

All needed to be cleaned, of course, and the insides of the boxes were somewhat stained and yellowed. As before I wanted to preserve as much of the original color and art on and in the boxes aside from what I’d add to the lid. I wiped down all the surfaces with my glass and all-surface cleaner, using a little rubbing alcohol on some marker and oily stains and all came pretty clean.

three black cats with cigar box keepsake boxes
Setting up for today’s big studio project, with lots of supervision. I’m trying to discuss my latest idea with them but I’m only getting stern expressions. Purrhaps they are tired of listening to me talk to myself.

A few needed the paper hinges on the lids repaired and a few corners reconstructed. The insides of the boxes, though, were a little too dingy to leave as is so I painted the inside of the bottom and up the side walls of each box with a matte white that I tinted to match the aged color of the white areas of the box, still leaving some of the text and art.

two black cats sleeping with keepsake boxes
My last two supervisors, Mewsette Basil, have fallen asleep in the corner of my table. Tired of hearing me talk to myself, or possibly listening to The Prisoner of Azkaban is not as interesting as it is for me.

The white owl artwork was particularly exciting to since I’d chosen book three of the Harry Potter series to listen to while working on this project I felt the presence of owls all around me.

I made seven feline-themed boxes and six floral boxes, finishing the sides and trim with specialty finishes that coordinated with the design. Even boxes among the same brand, including the most common, Marsh & Wheeling, are different sizes for the different sizes of cigars they held, even just by 1/4-inch on one dimension, and it made an interesting game matching up the art with the overall shape, and then trimming it to the exact size to fit, considering that the boxes aren’t really square anymore. Once they are all done, you’d never know, that’s the fun of it.

Now that they are all dry I am adding the finishing touches: a ribbon tie that attaches to the edge of the underside of the lid and attaches with a velcro closure to the front of the box. Some of the lids close very nicely and some are still a little warped, despite my patient soaking and flattening, but even for the ones that are flat and fit neatly into the sides of the box, I like to have a lid that is held shut somehow in case the box is knocked over.

I will work to get these boxes and the gift bags listed this week, but believe it or not I also have a few more gift items to make for this weekend’s even for Meals on Wheels.


Mr. Sunshine does a quality control walk among the keepsakes, ensuring a supply of cat hair.
Mr. Sunshine does a quality control walk among the keepsakes, ensuring a supply of cat hair.

Mr. Sunshine does a quality control walk among the keepsakes, ensuring a supply of cat hair.

Take a look at other new merchandise and featured artwork.

Marketplace is a feature on The Creative Cat to share the latest coming out of my studio with my readers. Once a week on Thursday I feature something new in my “shop”.

Read about creating custom items

Find out more about creating custom items for your own home using the images you see here. Visit the “Ordering Custom Art” page to see samples and read bout how to order.

Find out about events and festivals where you can find me and my work.

Sign up for my e-newsletter (below), check the widget on the sidebar on my home page, or sign up to receive posts on Portraits of Animals Marketplace. I plan on plenty of events this coming summer in the Pittsburgh area.

It’s all done under the close and careful supervision of my studio cats!

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Visit my gallery of handmade gifts to see what’s available on Portraits of Animals.

All images and text used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission, although links to your site are more than welcome and are shared. Please ask if you are interested in using and image or story in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of an image or a product including it, check my animal and nature website Portraits of Animals to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit Ordering Custom Artwork for more information on a custom greeting card, print or other item.

© 2017 | | Published by Bernadette E. Kazmarski

Weekly schedule of features:
Sunday: Essays, Pet Loss, Poetry, The Artist’s Life
Monday: Adoptable Cats, TNR & Shelters
Tuesday: Rescue Stories
Wednesday: Commissioned Portrait or Featured Artwork
Thursday: New Merchandise
Friday: Book Review, Health and Welfare, Advocacy
Saturday: Your Backyard Wildlife Habitat, Living Green With Pets, Creating With Cats
And sometimes, I just throw my hands in the air and have fun!



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From health and welfare to rescue and adoption stories, advocacy and art, The Creative Cat offers both visual and verbal education and entertainment about cats for people who love cats. From catchy and creative headlines to factual articles and fictional stories, The Creative Cat provides constant entertainment and important information to people who love cats, pets and animals of all species.

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