A Novel Keepsake Box

By  Jennifer & Kitty O'Neil 


  • Vintage book, at least 1-1/2” thick
  • Black velvet, approximately size of book’s cover
  • Gold leaf sheets
  • Upholstery tacks, four
  • Black craft paper
  • Gold photo corners, four
  • Heirloom photograph
  • Satin ribbon, 1-1/2”-wide, 4’ length
  • Embellishments of choice: decorative papers; old maps; postage stamps; antique watch faces; skeleton keys; foreign coins; broken jewelry; old buttons


  • Mod Podge découpage medium (Plaid)
  • Small paintbrush
  • Large binder clips, three
  • White chalk
  • Double-sided tape
  • Gold leaf liquid adhesive
  • Gold leaf sealer
  • Hammer
  • Rubber cement
  • Hot glue gun and glue sticks
  • Decorative-edge scissors
  • Adhesive foam squares
  • 1. To adhere all book pages together, open front cover and press down on book's pages, creating a tight stack. Apply one coat Mod Podge to outside edge of stack. Use binder clips to clamp stack of pages to back of book; let dry.
  • 2. To create a niche inside book, use ruler and pencil to draw rectangle on first book page, 1" from sides. Use craft knife and ruler to cut through several pages of book along guidelines. Remove cutouts, then cut through next layer of pages. Repeat until you reach back of book.
  • 3. Apply Mod Podge® to insides of niche; let dry. Press velvet into niche face-side-down and use chalk to mark trim lines. Cut velvet along lines. To make velvet fit neatly into corners, cut a square the depth of the niche off each corner. Use double-sided tape to line inside of niche with velvet.
  • 4. Remove binder clips and close book's cover. To gold leaf edges of block of pages, coat with gold leaf adhesive, being careful not to apply adhesive to covers. Let dry until tacky, then tear off a piece of gold leaf and place on page edges. Use dry paintbrush to push gold leaf onto adhesive. Continue until all edges are covered. Apply sealer.
  • 5. For box feet, turn book face-down and place upholstery tack to each corner, 1/2" from edge. Hammer into place.
  • 6. Embellish inside by cutting decorative papers to cover area around niche; use rubber cement to adhere in place. Use hot glue and ribbon to cover rough edges. Use photo corners to adhere photo to black craft paper. Use decorative-edge scissors to trim paper, 1/2" from photo edges. Use rubber cement to adhere photo to lid center.
  • 7. To embellish outside of book, cut rectangle from map, 1/2" smaller than cover. Use rubber cement to adhere map to cover. Use hot glue to cover map edges with silk ribbon. Adhere smaller piece of decorative paper, such as an old postcard or pretty wrapping paper, to center of map. Continue adding embellishments as desired. Find center of wide satin ribbon and use hot glue to adhere to back of book. Fill box with mementoes; tie bow.
  • Crafty Shopping Tips
  • 1. For just a few dollars on eBay, you can buy interesting postage stamps ranging from Guinea's lovely orchids to Tanzania's colorful butterflies.
  • 2. For decorative papers and metal embellishments, check out your local scrapbook store.
  • 3. The flea market is a great place to find old books, watch faces, and skeleton keys. And, if you don't have an old family photo for the lid, the flea market has those too, by the hundreds. Meet your new Aunt Gertrude!