Introduction: Bejewelled Tea Box

About: Lover of drawing, painting and making ... stuff!

I made this for my boyfriend who was on the lookout for a tea box that would fit his requirements. Namely, it should look like a "bejewelled box given to kings as a gift" and have enough compartments to fit his many flavours of tea.

While the concept in my head started fairly simple, it evolved into something more elaborate as I added more elements to it and I had a lot of fun making it!

In this instructable I'm going to share how I made it, but it can be adapted to whatever design / however many compartments you want to use.


  • Cardboard / Cardboard box with lid (my box measured L:26cm x W:24cm x H:9cm but you can make it smaller/bigger depending on number of compartments)
  • DAS Air-dry Modelling Clay
  • Hot Glue Gun / Tape
  • Gem Stickers
  • PVA Glue (Wood Glue)
  • Newspaper / Tissue
  • Acrylic Paint (I used Mars Black, Gold and Carmine Red)
  • Sponge
  • Foil
  • Basic Supplies (Pencil, Paintbrush, Ruler, Scissors)

Step 1: The Cardboard Box Base

First step is to make a cardboard box with a lid, to your size requirements. You can either use an existing box like I did (I reconstructed it by making it smaller and raising the walls higher) or make one from scratch by measuring out the panels and sticking them together.

A few of things to consider when making the box base:

  • The overall size will obviously depend on how many compartments you'd like. I opted for 12 compartments (to hold 10 sachets each), so my box measured 26cm x 24cm x 9cm.
  • The walls needs to be high enough to fit standard sized tea sachets while still being able to close the lid comfortably
  • Adding paper mache can sometimes cause issues with closing the lid properly once dried, so bear this in mind when making the lid. I didn't add a front flap to mine as I felt a clay border would help it lock in better

Step 2: Make the Compartments

Now you have your box ready, it's time to make the compartments. If you're making 12 compartments, you'll need 5 divider panels (2 vertical, 3 horizontal).

Measure the inside of the box to see how long the panels need to be. The length of these strips should be long enough to sit tightly within the inside walls, and tall enough to hold up the tea bags while being able to see the names/flavours (I opted for 4.5cm high).

To slot the panels together:

Take the two vertical panels, divide the length into 4 sections by drawing three lines. Then cut slits into the top half of each line.

With the three horizontal panels, divide the length into 3 sections by drawing two lines and cut the slits into the bottom half of each line.

You should now be able to slot all 5 panels together so they form 12 separate compartments.

Alternatively, you can just cut out individual small panels and hot glue/tape them together to form the compartments instead of creating a slot system. Either way, when you're done you can glue/tape the whole thing into the interior of the box.

Step 3: Paper Mache the Whole Thing

You don't necessarily have to do this step, but I find it helps to provide sturdiness and cover up any tape / cardboard you want to smooth out. I would recommend at least covering the inside of the box with paper mache, as it gives the divider panels a lot more stability.

For this process I used a 1:1 ratio of Elmer's PVA glue and water and covered the entire thing in newspaper. I used kitchen roll for the inside so it had a different texture to the outside.

Let the whole thing dry!

Step 4: Making Clay Decorations

Next step is to add some clay decorations for the box. You can go as lavish as you like!

I didn't have any moulds but, through watching various YouTube videos, I made:

  • 4 legs - using a stencil I drew for the base and then building more clay pieces / gems onto it. When gluing these on (use PVA), turn the box upside down, glue onto each corner and let it dry before turning back around. Make sure you get them level so the box doesn't tilt when it's complete.
  • Border strips - using household items to press patterns into the clay. For the front strip of the lid, glue the top half of the strip down and then close the lid to make sure it hangs off right, acting almost like a clasp.
  • Big jewel in the middle - using balled up foil and then covered in thin layer of clay.
  • Gem decorations - by using chunks of clay to build around the gems.

Air-dry clay takes around 24 hrs to dry (depending on the size), so I would recommend doing the legs first and then moving onto the other parts you want to add.

It's worth noting that sticking on the smaller gem decorations before painting the whole box (the next step) did make it more time-consuming when painting, but I just preferred this to hot-glueing them on after the box was painted. But that's up to you!

Step 5: Add Black Undercoat

Now it's time to add some paint!

First, paint the entire thing black (including the inside, but avoiding the gems as mentioned previously). I did this because I was going for an 'aging' gold effect, but if you don't want this you can paint the whole thing white instead at this stage so it will come out more gold.

Adding an underlayer gives everything an even coating for when you're adding other colours (and means you use less paint for the second colour).

Let the black dry completely.

Step 6: Adding Second Coat of Colour

The next step is to add the gold to the outside.

Take a small sponge (cut into smaller pieces if necessary) and dab it onto some gold paint. Keep the sponge dry and don't use too much paint at once.

Slowly pat the sponge across everything that is black (except the inside) and keep layering it on until it's as gold as you want it.

I also painted a red gradient effect onto the big stone I made for the middle.

For the inside, I added a thin layer of maroon but you can also just leave it black if you'd prefer.

Step 7: Fill It Up With Tea!

Your bejewelled tea box is ready to use!

Fill up the compartments with different types of tea, and send it to the king!

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