Activities: Make Your Own Victorian Keepsake Box
Making presents was a sign of love and care in Victorian Britain, and gifts often took the full calendar year to finish. This keepsake box is made using a popular Victorian technique, papier mache, which was even used to create pieces of furniture.
To make the box you can download the template and instructions. Or you might already have a box that you would like to use.
Add some water to PVA glue in a bowl. For thick glues the ratio is usually 50:50. The paste needs to be slightly watered down, but not too runny. You could also use 1 part flour to 5 parts water and boil for about 3 minutes.
Rip or cut the newspaper into small strips. Take one piece, soak it in the glue mix, and then gently place onto the box. Repeat this with another strip of paper, laying this one slightly over-lapping the previous strip.
Continue to do this until the whole box is covered, ensuring that you have covered the edges.
Cover the box lid in the same way. Leave to dry overnight and then apply another layer. You can repeat this if necessary.
You can decorate your box in any way you like. We chose to paint our box using black, as Japanese style lacquer was a popular aesthetic in Victorian times. Apply paint thinly, but make sure you cover the whole outside and inside of the box. Place to one side whilst you wait for the paint to dry. You can apply another coat if necessary.
Gather together your items for decorating the box. You could use dried flowers or leaves and stick them onto you box in an attractive pattern, or maybe you would like to use buttons or shells. It doesn't matter what you use, the important part is making the box look as special and lavish as possible.
Now the box is finished it will make a great gift for someone to keep special items in like a necklace.
Pretty bags that can be hung off the Christmas tree.
A handmade gift with a personal touch.
A gift that can be filled with Christmas memories.
See all 25 activities to make your own Victorian Christmas.
National Archives: Victorian Britain
History in Focus: The Victorian Era
Victoria and Albert Museum
The Victorian Web
British Library: Online Exhibition: Victorian Britain
Pollock's Toy Museum
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