I’m so excited to share today’s craft tutorial with you: Vintage Patriotic Decor that you can make in time for July 4th! While this craft has a definite vintage style, there’s also a bit of playfulness too!
And as with any of my tutorials – you can easily adapt this craft to make it your own, just by choosing different vintage graphics to use, additional colors, materials and trims, etc.
I’ve seen several of these decorated paper mache boxes on Pinterest, but rarely have I seen detailed, step-by-step instructions. And that’s where today’s post comes in: I’m sharing the nitty-gritty with you, so you can see exactly how you can put this together yourself.
Let’s get started!
July 4th Craft: Vintage Patriotic Decor
The first thing to do is to gather all of your supplies – makes it much easier to move through each step.
Paper maché heart box
Patriotic or red, white and blue vintage graphics (reproductions)
Krylon acrylic sealer
Mini glue dots
Mod Podge – matte finish
Stickles Glitter Glue in “Diamond”
Tim Holtz Distress Ink Pad in “Frayed Burlap”
Acrylic paints in brown, ivory, and red shades
Plastic peanut butter jar lid to hold the paint and glue (See our post here about these lids!)
Scissors – large and detailed sizes
White netting tulle
Vintage book text
Note: the vintage book text that I chose comes from a book in my own collection from 1915 called GingerSnaps by Col. William C. Hunter. The tiny book is filled with short essays by the author, and I couldn’t resist using the first page of the “Made in U.S.A.” essay for this project!
Directions for the box and lid painting and distressing:
Step 1: Paint the heart box and lid with ivory craft paint. I needed to do 3 coats to get solid coverage. Let dry in between each coat.
Step 2: Paint red squares, somewhat loosely, around the lid. Let dry.
Step 3: Distress the box and lid with a watered-down brown paint wash. (Literally water down some paint with water to make it thinner.) Brush it on with a foam brush, and then wipe and blot off with a paper towel. Do this until you like the amount of distress that you see. Let dry.
Step 4: Spray entire box with the Krylon sealer and let dry.
Step 5: Distress the box and lid further using the Distress Ink Pad. Lightly dab the pad onto the surface of the box just in certain places to add more dimension. On the lid, dab the ink pad onto the ivory squares on the side, avoiding the red ones, and also distress the top of the lid.
Step 6: Using the Distress Ink Pad, rub the pad along the creases and seams of the box and lid.
Step 7: Let everything dry. Then spray once more with a light coat of sealer and let dry.
Directions for the main image of Firecracker Boy for the top of the box:
First – a note about the images I’ve used. I’ve had this adorable little patriotic boy with the firecracker in my personal stash for a long time. But there are several resources online where you can find your own patriotic images to use. Our favorite is The Graphics Fairy. Click here to see all of her patriotic images available for free!
Step 1: Print out the Firecracker Boy image onto 65 lb white cardstock. Wait a few minutes – if using an inkjet printer (to dry), and then print an enlarged vintage book text onto the backside of the cardstock.
Step 2: If using an inkjet printer, spray your image on both sides with acrylic sealer and let dry before the next steps.
Step 3: Cut out your image. Make sure to include a “base” at the bottom of the image that can be folded to help the image “stand up” on the box lid. (I digitally collaged a wood floor image onto the vintage boy image, and left enough to use to stand him up later.) (See above image.)
Step 4: Ink the edges of your image with the Distress Ink Pad to make the image look a bit more aged, as well as to give it some definition. Let dry.
Step 5: Apply a glitter glue onto the quotation marks and words on the firecracker in the image. Let dry.
Step 6: Spray both sides with a light coat of sealer and let dry.
Step 7: Fold part of the very bottom of the image — the part that looks like the wood base — at a 90-degree angle from the rest of the image. You will adhere the bottom of this to the box lid later.
Directions for the flat images for box and lid:
Step 1: Print out your images. If using an inkjet printer, spray your images with the acrylic sealer (and let dry) before decoupaging them to the heart box and lid.
Step 2: Cut out your images carefully.
Step 3: Ink the edges of your alphabet images with the Distress Ink Pad, and also “scuff up” the front of your images a bit with the ink pad too. Let dry.
Step 4: Cut out a heart shape — using the box lid as your template — from some old book text (or a computer printout of some old text). Ink the edges of the heart with the Distress Ink Pad. Let dry.
Step 5: For the images being decoupaged directly to the box and lid, lay out your images to map out the placement.
Step 6: Apply Mod Podge to the back of each image as well as to the part of the box (and lid) where the image will go. Place the image onto the box and smooth down to make sure it fully sticks to the surface.
Step 7: Repeat step 5 for each additional image to be adhered to the box and lid.
Step 8: Let everything dry well. Then apply Mod Podge over each image to seal it. Let dry.
Step 9: Finally, spray a light coat of the acrylic sealer over the entire box and the lid. Let dry.
Putting everything together:
Step 1: Attach blue sequins to a few spots on the box using mini glue dots. (See images above.)
Step 2: Take your Firecracker Boy’s wood floor base that you previously folded. Attach mini glue dots to the part that will “face” the top of the lid. Press this folded part to the lid to attach the boy.
Step 3: Take the final piece of the alphabet images, cut length-wise in half, and make one fold at one end. Attach a mini glue dot to that fold and adhere to the back of the boy image attached to the lid. Use a mini glue dot to attach the top of the alphabet image to the back of the Firecracker Boy at a slight angle. This will help the boy stay standing up. (See image below.)
Step 4: Cut some squares of white tulle netting into 3 different – but similar – sizes. Fold each piece in half, cut out a semi-circle in the center, and open up.
Step 5: Slip each piece of tulle, one at a time, over the Firecracker Boy and arrange until you’re satisfied with how it looks.
And now you have your very own Vintage Patriotic Decor!
Isn’t he adorable?
I hope I’ve shown you that – although there’s many steps involved – putting one of these together is very doable.