Friday, May 2, 2014

Freeform Friday: Cigar box displays

There are as many different ways to display jewelry as there are variations of jewelry itself. From hand made to professional, from rustic to sleek... Pinterest boards exist solely to categorize and save brilliant ideas. I wanted to share with you something that I do, it works for me, and my style... 

First, a few comments on style. (stepping up on soap box...) You are doing a show. Look over the inventory you have amassed. You have a personal style, and its showing. Is it sleek lines, and glossy finished, and a modern aesthetic? Is it detailed, highly decorative, lots going on? Is it earthy, rustic, organic? I think its important that you display "fit" your style. By its very nature it needs to present your work in the best light, safely, and with style, yet without distraction. Display is the supporting actor role, not the star, but the two have to relate well in camera. 

I like to use plain wood, and solid colors in my display. Muted, earthy tones, very "woodland". I also have space constraints. Sometimes I see complex fancy displays and  wonder if  the artist has a trailer, or a van. (Confession: I have an irrational dislike of mini vans.) I have a small car/SUV and I have to pack tent, tables, chairs, ceramic tiles, display, office, packaging, clothes... you see my dilemma. So no mannequins, no drapes and chandeliers, ( Yup, I've seen it). I need compact, sturdy, versatile, easy to pack pieces. 

Enter the cigar box: 

Here is a brief photo essay of what I did for mine. I have used cigar boxes for a few years, setting them open with pin-able space in the lid. I decided to turn them sideways and make a freestanding display piece with pin-able areas on both sides. 
Two wooden cigar boxes and one raw pine folding tray thing from the craft store.  Wooden cigar boxes are available at a Tobacconist's or some liquor stores for a few dollars. 
Oops. Blurry. (Reread Jen's post regarding iPhone pix.)
On left: the original flange inside. On right: Flange removed. It pulls out. 
Measure twice. Cut once. This is 1/4" foam core. Use a very sharp blade  to cut  a clean line. 
Make sure they fit! For these standing displays, I measured pieces for top and bottom- that will become L and R. 
I use ultra suede fabric in jewel tones as that works for me and my style. Fabric is cut with ample margins, maybe 1.5-2". Glueing corners first, I use an archival PVA glue as thats what I have for other work. After corners are glued, I glue the sides like I was wrapping a present. And I use tape to hold it all down while glue dries. Shh, don't tell. 
Weight pieces down while drying. Interesting trivia: those rocks are from the  beach in Newlyn, Cornwall, UK from my honeymoon. Yes, I have carried them around for 17+ years.  Hang on - you will see the finished one at the end... 

Who's gonna see the inside? 
For the smaller hinged frame of raw pine - cost $1 at the craft store... I mixed up a wood tone of acrylic paint. (Yellow ochre and burnt umber) Brushed on a watered down layer, watching for drips. It dries intently as the wood is thirsty. I don't seal or varnish these. I could, but I am usually too impatient.  

Now lets see these boxes in action: 

This box was the first of its kind. It has division I created to keep my ceramic pendants separated.  I like displaying  one of each style up top, and other color options of the designs in the bottom. The fabric at bottom is draped in and adhered with double sided tape. I can leave these in the box, close it and be done! 
The foam core is a pin able surface, if you pin at an angle. The fabric is forgiving and hides marks. 
I tend to do a mock-up of my display as I prepare for a show.These boxes are very versatile and easily reconfigured as space allows. There! On the right - the deep red fabric. That the new standing cigar box. I will display necklaces there.
Here is a booth picture from last fall, where you can get a sense of the wood tones and colors I use, as well as the boxes in use. As I write this its raining like crazy! I have a show this weekend, outdoors... and the location is currently very, very wet. I will try to post some pictures on the AJE Facebook page of my real display once we are dry, set up, and happy on Friday. So please stay tuned! 

I would love to hear what you think! Have a weekend filled with sunshine! 



  1. Now, where to get cigar boxes in this time and age ...

    1. Larger liquor stores often have them. I would assume Ebay, and usually junk/antique stores although thats more spendy...

  2. Your display is a perfect backdrop for your aesthetic style Jenny - looking forward to seeing it in person at Beadfest :o)

  3. I always love your display - it's very you! I am still trying to find me.

  4. Very cool!! There's something kind of Victorian-Curiosity-Shop about it. The hinges also make me think of one of those Victorian travel trunks that you stand on its side when open and it's like a little mini-closet.

    1. Thanks! Cabinet of curiosities! Yes - thats my eclectic style to a tee!

  5. Jenn, thank you so much for this inspiration! I got to your page through a good friend who is also a maker of jewelry.

  6. Thank you for sharing! I don't sell my work yet, but maybe someday! I love your eccletic style, it suits me too. Are those just plain old carboard boxes under the table cloths?


We would love to hear what you have to say, please leave a comment.