Treasure Box Workshop at CBBAG Ottawa Valley

The Canadian Bookbinders' and Book Artists' Guild (CBBAG or “Cabbage”) offered a workshop on boxmaking, instructed by a great teacher, Maggie McGovern.

The participants completed a lidded box, 7cm wide x 7cm deep x 9cm high. I dove for the RED paper in the pile of workshop supplies.

We used commercial papers with a handmade look for covering standard bookboard, decorated the lid with small bookboard shapes and attached a bead for a knob to lift the lid:

Techniques learned are all applicable to the construction of book covers – careful measuring, cutting bookboard and gluing with PVA and cornstarch paste in a 50-50 ratio. For attaching beads as lid decoration, Maggie taught us a neat trick: Carve a wee groove on the underside of the bookboard that holds the bead so that the wire or thread pushed through the bead can be nested into the groove, thus avoiding lumpiness underneath the board and allowing it to lie flat:

I attached my bead “knob” with waxed linen thread; some folks chose copper wires ( I forgot my camera so have no pics of most of the other boxes but will post when I get them.):

The paper hides quite a few construction sins! I like how the stacked profile on the lid turned out. I would have preferred a black bead but I thought red looked best in the absence of black:

I learned a neat shortcut to make the decorative attachments stacked on the lid: Cut the board using a 2cm-wide metal ruler as template.
Instructor Maggie has a great Problem-Solution approach to making: Any “mistake” is usually an opportunity for a new creative direction. Or it can be sanded off, filled in with glue or covered with paper. Only in desperate cases is it necessary to abandon ship.
In her capacity as a retired technical writer, she provided handouts that were a pleasure to read. I appreciated those notes being made available during the class because my hearing is so poor (…my beloved three-year old grandson has mislaid my two brand-new hearing aids. Well, I am blaming that on him…)
Last pics are of the box made by my husband who also attended the workshop:
Husband chose a two-colour black and orange scheme a la japonaise. He used both the printed and the plain sides of orange-and-gold paper, preferring the printed design as an accent on the lid that he decorated with an assemblage of bead, board and wire:

Next post: My recent eco prints on paper.

And maybe some images of Canadian fall colour which has been utterly spectacular this year.

I heard from a gardening guru that our severe drought this summer has caused the leaves to become thinner – thus allowing more sunlight to shine through them and causing them to appear lit from within.

Only a few more weeks to collect the leaves while they are juicy.


About wendyfe

I am a fibre artist working in mixed media textiles with a focus on vintage cloth reworked with stitching, natural dyeing, eco printing and rust printing . My work can be seen at
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8 Responses to Treasure Box Workshop at CBBAG Ottawa Valley

  1. darcyberglandscape says:

    This looks great! What does the inside of the box look like?

    • wendyfe says:

      Hi Darcy
      We painted the inside of the boxes with acrylic paints before we glued on the paper. The paper folds over about a centimetre along the four inside edges of the box. My husband used thick paint and textured it using the end of the paintbrush. Others painted multicoloured designs inside. People whose paper had a nice deckled edge did not bend it over to the inside of the box but let is show. I simply mixed up a dark red and painted that on- was thinking that I did not want a contrasting colour like black in case, by the time we came to gluing the paper on, there might be sins to hide…We were an adventurous group with art experience in our back another time.


  2. What a subtle work these boxes are!


  3. Terriea says:

    Very pretty and Japanese style creation. Functional and decorative. Both you and your husband’s are wonderful !
    Happy fall and collection of leaves. Love reading your blog.

    • wendyfe says:

      My husband is very pleased with the little box he made and now is planning piggy banks for the grandchildren using children’s board books from the thrift stores. He chose illustrations of piggies of course!

  4. Darcy Berg says:

    Hi Wendy,

    I thought you might want to see what you inspired me to do. This is a link to my art blog and the boxes I’ve started to make. Thank you! I’m really enjoying myself.

    Darcy Berg

  5. wendyfe says:

    Well done, Darcy! You are certainly paying forward the inspiration. Thanks for sharing

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