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Project: Show-Off Squares Claybord Box

When I saw the Claybord Box Kits from Ampersand Art Supply I knew just what to do with some of the star-shaped buttons, canceled stamps, found objects, pieces of dichroic glass and other small items I’ve been collecting over the years: Get them out of the drawer where they’d languished, paint some boxes, and show off the collectibles on the lids!

It’s such a versatile gift idea: I can give boxes to people who collect the same kinds of items. What button collector wouldn’t want a box decorated with buttons as a place to keep MORE buttons? I can also give them to people who are minimalists with no collections of their own!

I love 9-patch quilt blocks and took inspiration from that pattern, hence the name ‘Show-Off Squares’ for the project!

Because no two people have the same bits and pieces, and because tastes vary so much, this tutorial is meant to inspire as well as instruct. You can duplicate a box as shown or head in a different direction – so many options.

The three photos shown above represent two ‘auditions’ and one ‘final performance’ – I tested the box with dichroic glass and with buttons, deciding that the glass pieces had the look I wanted. (Nothing glued in place during the auditions.) But something wasn’t quite right. I wanted the feel of an old and battered collector’s cabinet or type drawer, so I added black paint. The third photo, the ‘performance’ shows the finished box.

I’m back to square one making a box for the buttons. It needs to be glitzy and totally over the top– black paint, bright silver and gold and red and ivory, rhinestones on the sides, I think.


  1. There are two ways to go: Create a box with squares on the top and long, matching strips on the sides and THEN decide what to show off on top. OR choose the objects first, then pick a Claybord Box Kit, paints, and other supplies. Boxes are available as squares and as rectangles. (Having lots of objects from which to choose is helpful – and moving them around several times is a good idea! Take photos along the way so you don’t forget some of your first arrangements, they may turn out to be the best ones.)
  1. Decide on the size and number of squares needed for the lid. Shown: 5” x 5” box, nine 1.5” squares.
  1. Paint the lid and bottom of the box with acrylic paint. Let the paint dry; add a second coat. Shown: Warm Penny metallic acrylic. Important: The unpainted box is marked in pencil with X’s to show which is the back of the lid and bottom half. Be sure to keep track of this during painting and then use sticky notes inside the halves to make sure they stay in correct position!
  1. Alter a 5” x 12” piece of Fire Opal Gemstone Shimmer Sheetz with alcohol inks and gold and silver metallic mixatives applied with an ink applicator tool for a dappled effect. Back it with a 5” x 12” piece of double-sided adhesive sheet.

  1. Using a craft knife, straight edge and cutting mat, cut the following from the Shimmer Sheetz:
  • Three 1.5” x 12” strips
  • Two 0.25” x 12” strips
  1. Now cut the strips from Step five as follows:
  • Nine 1.5” x 1.5” squares
  • Four 1.5” x 5” strips
  • Four 0.25” x 5” strips
  1. Arrange and adhere the nine squares on the top of the lid, leaving space on all sides as shown, or with squares touching if that is your preference. Adhere the 0.25” x 5” strips to the sides of the lid, 0.25” from the top edge.
  1. Adhere the 1.5” x 5” strips to the bottom of the box, one on each side, 0.25” up from the bottom edge.
  1. The photo below shows the second ‘audition’ (without black paint). If that is your preference, stop now.

  1. For a more vintage look, use a dry brush, a light touch, and very little paint to add a few streaks of black acrylic to the box as shown below.

  1. Add the hinges to the box and you’re done!



  • Think of each of the squares as a space for an individual mini-collage. Use canceled stamps and ticket stubs to represent travel destinations, for example.
  • Instead of alcohol ink-altered Shimmer Sheetz, use folder-embossed and lightly sanded pieces and skip the dimensional collectibles!
  • Add feet or decorative metal corners to the box.


  • Claybord Box Kit 5” x 5” (Ampersand Art Supply)
  • Paint brush
  • Dazzling Metallics acrylic paint in Warm Penny (DecoArt)
  • 5” x 12” Shimmer Sheetz in Fire Opal Gemstone (Elizabeth Craft Designs)
  • 5” x 12” Clear Double Sided Adhesive Sheet (ECD)
  • Craft knife, straight edge, cutting mat
  • Tim Holtz Alcohol Inks in assorted dark colors (Ranger)
  • Tim Holtz Metallic Mixatives in Silver and Gold (Ranger)
  • Tim Holtz Applicator Tool (Ranger)
  • Nine or more small objects (buttons, sea glass, dichroic glass, rusty hardware, etc.)
  • Strong hold adhesive of choice (formulated to hold non-porous surfaces)

This is part of our on-going series of projects with artist Judi Kauffman. Judi is a nationally known designer, teacher, writer and product developer whose expertise includes collage, stenciling, paper crafting, stamp arts, embroidery, needlepoint, knitting, crochet, weaving and fabric piecing. She has written and produced three videos and is the author of five books. Judi developed and taught college level studio art and graphic design courses for over 40 years, as well as art programs in public and private schools (elementary through high school levels). Judi earned a BFA in printmaking from Cornell University and an MFA in fibers from Antioch University. She credits her parents (both artists) and her grandfathers (a tailor and a blacksmith) for encouraging her to pursue art and for being among her favorite teachers.


3 comments on “Project: Show-Off Squares Claybord Box”

  1. Avatar Holly Young says:

    What a really creative way to use and show off some of the favorite things we all save!

  2. Avatar Paula Lewis says:

    Beautiful and versatile.

  3. Avatar Bibi says:

    I love the finished version, the “performance”, but having “auditions” is a good idea! Gorgeous box, Judi! Thanks for sharing!

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