Tuesday, 23 April 2013

MAKE STUFF: Altoids tin makeover, into a compact!

So I was late on the bandwagon, but I recently discovered the local eco-friendly store, Terra20, and I hadn't even realized that this was where my entire paycheque was supposed to be going every month, but that's how it works now and I'm okay with that.

Anyway, I figured out this year that I'm allergic to something (maybe everything) in commercially-produced personal care products, which meant no more makeup, moisturizer, shampoo, hair spray--you name it. Obviously the solution was either to stop cleaning myself and look like Grizzly Adams, or find some alternative products. I chose the latter, much to the relief of everyone around me. When I found a brand of eye shadow that I liked at Terra20, I was stoked; but I discovered that the cakes of powder were sold without a compact. There's a compact available, but it's made of cardboard (to be eco-friendly) and if you've seen me handle my belongings, you know I'm better off with something made of kevlar. 

This is how the eye shadow comes, with minimal packaging. 

So I made this lovely Altoids tin compact. Still eco-friendly, still reusable, but just way more personalized and super sturdy. Want one of your own? Here's how to do it. (And it's really very easy.)


-Altoids tin (or other metal tin), devoid of mints
-primer (spray or paint-on kind)
-paintbrushes, scissors, and perhaps an Xacto knife
-pretty paper, ideally cardstock weight
-other pretty images, from a magazine, or printed with a photocopier or laser printer for water resistance
-Tacky Glue
-Polyurethane craft varnish
-nail polish

1. Prime the tin and let it dry. Don't prime the inside--it's chemicals you don't need near your eye makeup.

2. Cut out your pretty paper to fit the top, bottom, and wide part of the sides. If you can't trace or eyeball this (it takes some practice), look for a template online by just googling 'Altoids tin template'. You'll find what feels easiest for you. But I just traced the top, the bottom, and then loosely measured the side so I could cut one long strip to wrap around the box. I don't try to paper the inner lip (the part of the box's side that is covered up when the lid is closed) because I don't like it interfering with the smooth closure of the box. We'll use nail polish there instead--you'll see.

3. Use the Tacky Glue (essentially, just thicker white glue) to glue down the various pieces of paper. You'll have to find a balance between too much glue and not enough glue. Gently smooth out any bumps or bubbles. I recommend having extra paper on hand in case of a screw-up. Also, many Altoids tins have raised letters on the top; this is why cardstock is better to use here. You'll still have some bumpiness when you're done, but the cardstock covers those raised letters pretty well.

4. Add images from magazines, books, old cards, or printed on a laser printer. My lotus here was printed off the 'net with a laser printer and cut out so you would still see lots of the pretty paper around the edges.

5. Once that's all relatively dry, grab your nail polish. I used a red one (also from Terra20, so it isn't as toxic), and I painted the edge of the lid, as well as the hidden edge of the side (the part that hides under the lid when it's closed). I did three or four coats to be sure it'd be tough. I also chose a nail polish that I know dries very hard--not bendy or sticky or stretchy. 

6. Leave to dry overnight.

7. Add any last minute details, touch up any paint. I ended up adding some little plastic pearls from my scrapbooking supplies around the edge of the lotus. 

8. Varnish the whole thing with your water-based craft polyurethane. I use a fan brush because it's got wide coverage and doesn't streak the varnish. Let it dry between coats, and do 3 coats. If any of the paper tries to wrinkle or buckle, you're probably applying the varnish too thickly; slow down, gently press the paper flat again, and wait longer between coats.

9. Leave it alone for 3 days so everything is good and hard. While you're doing that, decide what to do with the inside. I considered sticking small pieces of adhesive magnet onto the back of my makeup cakes, then letting physics do the rest since the tins are indeed magnet-friendly. But I was worried that they may come loose during transit, when I occasionally carry my makeup to a location. So I cut out a piece of blue plastic from some packaging, hot glued that in the bottom of the tin, then hot-glued my powder cakes into place. When they're empty, I can pull them gently off the plastic--and worse case scenario, of the plastic has gotten gross by then, I can pull it out, too, and put in a new piece. I could have done paper or fabric, but I like things to be easy to sterilize. 

10. Show it off to everyone you can. I was a bit surprised at myself for choosing such girly colours, but I found the lotus and then I found the paper, and the rest just happened. MJ says it looks like a vintage soap ad or something, and I'm happy with that. And I've still got room for another shadow in there! Happy day, indeed.

Still room to add another, and tuck in a small brush!

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