Introduction: Decorative Origami Gift Box: Part II, Adding Bling

About: I'm a recently retired Emergency Nurse with a life-long love of art. Now that I'm retired, I have time to follow my passion in art. I love a little of everything and normally work with mixed medium, but I'm …

This tutorial will be about the options I chose to decorate my boxes. While I could very well just say "do what you want", I'm hoping that my simple decorations as well as some helpful advice from my experience will help spur your creativity and THEN you can do whatever you want :)

For the tutorial on how to fold the box and lid (they're folded the exact same way), see

Decorative Origami Gift Box: Part I, The Box.

As in part I, please excuse my horrible fingertips and nails. I had used alcohol inks earlier and I got stained. Oh well, that's the mark of an artist. Always stained or wearing something that's stained.

Step 1: A Word About Planning ...

Even though I'm not one to really plan out what I do on any given day for any given project, I will say that when making something for someone else, I do put some thought into it. Here are some things to consider (and there will be other things depending on your project, but you'll get the idea).

  • Will what you use show on the opposite side?
  • Will you have to cover things like the securing part of brads?
  • What will you be putting inside? If it's something easily scratched or will catch on brads, or whatever you're using, you may want to consider another option.
  • Will the tool you need to do what you want fit in the project so that you can work it properly? If not, choose another option.
  • If you don't have what you want to use, do you have something that you can substitute even if you have to alter it a little? No sense in making a trip to the craft store or wherever if you already have something that will work. Of course, if you're looking for an excuse to make the trip, then I'm certainly not going to stop you :)

If you want to do something that's steampunk-ish, for instance, and you decide to raid your tool box or junk drawer, that's great. However, be conscious of what you're planning on attaching it to. If you're putting all kinds of washers, nuts, bolts, gears and keys on a canvas board, then it doesn't matter. If you plan to attach a bunch of it to this box example, then consider if it will weigh down the paper too much before you start gluing. Not that you CAN'T use it still, but think about where to put it ... like the heavier bits on the bottom as "feet" or where the most sturdy part of your project is.

If you have moving parts (even a lid that comes off) be aware of where you're putting something so that moving parts aren't obstructed ... like getting the lid on and off of this box. Too much stuff on the side of the lid too low and you'll get the lid stuck (or it might fall in the box from the weight and you won't be able to get it out).

And the most IMPORTANT thing folks forget: It's not finished until it's ALL finished. This means the back and the bottom and the inside of whatever you're working on. There are those that are of the mind that "what's on the bottom (or behind me) doesn't matter" and while this may be true in some cases, inevitably you will have someone who will look there to see if it's finished properly. Properly means it's ALL finished. Brad tails covered, glue covered, unfinished edges covered (unless that's intentional) ... all of it. Quality is in the details no matter what you're making, so take pride in the work you've put in and finish it. That way when Nosy Nancy (no offense to anyone named Nancy of course, unless you are nosy, in which case you already know that about yourself, so there's no reason to be offended) starts eyeing it to see if you've forgotten something, you can sit back and revel in your smugness.

Step 2: Supplies

The first list will be the supplies I used. While I'm giving these to folks, they don't have to be anything grand and they're small, so I skipped a lot of the fussy bits I could have done.

The second list will give additional ideas for things to use to decorate just so someone might get some inspiration.

My list:

1) In the image I show both brads and eyelets to secure the flaps, but eventually chose the eyelets even though it was more difficult in the small space of this box. This is because I didn't want to have to cover the securing flaps of the brads and create more work for myself. With the little pillow of tissue paper I will use to pad the magnet so it doesn't slide around, the back side of the eyelet won't show.

2) tools to set the eyelet and punch the holes. I have both a 1/8 inch hold punch for the eyelet holes and a traditional punch. Since the squeezie hole punch had enough room for me to get to the places I needed, I used that because it's easier that trying to center the punch on the inside for a whole you're marked on the outside. Again, planning.

3) Eyelet setter (which came with my punch set). That is what's shown in image 3. Harder to use than a brad would have been, but I used it anyway because I didn't want to cover the brad flaps remember.

NOTE ABOUT EYELETS. These are scrapbooking eyelets, which are smaller and require a 1/8 inch hole. If yours are larger or smaller (yes, they make smaller), you will have to adjust the hole position for that and have the proper hole punch for them as well. If you're using really large ones on this small box, you'll have to do something other than the demonstrated curve for the flaps. No rules. Do what you like.

You have the option of using eyelets for fabric, but they are quite a bit larger. The benefit is that you can use a regular eyelet setting tool to put them in. This is a great option if you'll be threading cording through as it will not only be large enough for the cord, it will also give the cord something to rub on so that your paper holds up.

You also have the option of using glue or glue dots. Just be sure they're strong enough to hold the flaps down considering the weight of the paper.

4) Sharpie to mark your holes. I started with the pencil I had for part I, but then I couldn't see the mark because of my papers, so I found this sharpie. Much better.

5) Copic Markers. Now, I happen to have a very few of these already and I know they will tint the jewel stickers I chose, so that's what I used. If you don't have Copics (which are a bit expensive, but not as much as other markers), I'm sure there are other things that will tint the jewels. Feel free to experiment with what you have. Just know that if you choose this method for altering the jewels, you may have to coat the tint with something to keep it from wiping off. Or, skip it and just leave them clear.

6) Stick on jewels or whatever. I chose the ones I already had. Just be sure that whatever you use, it's the correct size.

Step 3: Alternate/Additional Suggestions

You can use pretty much anything that is size appropriate to your box. However, here are some other options to get the creative juices flowing.

1) glitter glue/paint/hot glue. If you don't have the jewel stickers, then you can make your own with glitter glue or embellishment paint. The great thing is that most bottles have a tip that will allow you to easily control the size of the drop, so you can vary them however you like. Glitter or colored hot glue will also work, but I'd make these on a piece of wax paper and then transfer them to the box so you don't get globs and spider webs where you don't want them. (for those who haven't used hot glue, when you pull away, it strings the glue a bit and you can end up with a whole bunch of them and they look like spider webs, which can also be a decorative element if you like).

2) Beads. If you make jewelry (or did and still have the supplies) you can attach a bead(s) with a head pin. Alternately, you can glue them on. Just be sure you cover the hole to finish it. Larger beads are great for feet to keep the bottom off of the surface it will sit on and it looks really cute on the box.

3) Buttons. You can sew these on like you would any other thing you want to put a button on. Just don't try to use a machine. Also, be aware of what the inside thread looks like when you're done. If you're careful, you won't have to cover it. Buttons also make a great handle for the top.

4) Fibers. You can use string, yarn, jute, raffia or just about anything else. If you're inclined and do embroidery, you can try that too. If you do this, just be aware you may have to cover the inside part. You can also use scraps of left-over paracord with or without the inside strands. Whatever you use, be sure that you finish the edges nicely so that it looks finished if you're going to use it as a border. You can also use the string/cording as a handle and if you're going to make two holes for it anyway, you can opt to make the knot a decorative item ... or cover it ... as you like.

5) Paint. Craft paint is a great way to embellish something already folded. That way, the paint goes just where you want it.

6) Stamps. You can use stamps, but it might be hard to get them on properly if you're applying them to the finished box. If you can, then go for it. If you want an overall stamp pattern, say, one that's only texture or script, then stamp BEFORE you fold. It's also easier to distress the paper by tea dying or ink distressing before you fold. However if you want to distress the creases or folded edges, then to it after.

7) Wire. If you have small gauge wire or jewelry wire, you can do wire wrapping and make your own beads. You'll want to wrap and then apply it though as the paper will collapse too easily. Just experiment a bit with a scrap box of the same size. Also experiment with how you'll attach it.

8) Hardware. You can use washers, nuts, bolts (these are great for feet), old keys (if they're size-appropriate), computer bits like transistors or anything else you can think of. Into electrical wiring? At home improvement stores like Lowe's, there is a drawer in the screw section that has modeling and scientific items with tiny bulbs and motors and battery holders. You can use LEDs if you can get the wiring to a tiny battery worked out. Into Arduino? Make the thing remote controlled to light up, open the lid, or roll around the table on little wheels. If you can find a musical jewelry box mechanism that's small enough to fit in your lid and light enough (or on the bottom if you want to make a false bottom with coordinating paper), you can try that too. Want it to play music or a recording of your voice when the lid is lifted? The little chips they use for cards that do the same can be purchased and you can make your own. You can also attach a tiny hinge to the top so that it's permanently affixed. Just use your imagination.

That is the short list and there are dozens of other things you can use. Just choose what you like.

PLEASE post what you did so I can see it! I'm always fascinated by what creative folks can come up with.

Step 4: Starting at the Top

As you can see, I just attached a self-stick jewel to the very center. The good news is that the center is already marked for you, so where to put it is a no-brainer.

Once you put it down, just put one finger inside below it to anchor the other side of the paper and press it on firmly. If you're concerned it won't stick well or you don't have self-stick jewels, then use just a dot of the glue of your choice. I'm just betting on them sticking.

After I pull down the flaps on the box part, I'll decide if it needs anything else ... and I did add little bit.

Step 5: Now for the Box

Decorating the box will take much longer than folding did. If you're sewing or attaching beads or anything else, it might take you even longer. You could spend HOURS decorating, but I chose to keep it (fairly) simple because I had 9 to do.

I happen to already have eyelets in different colors. All of mine happen to be metallic, but you can use whatever.

I just matched the color of the eyelet to the box. I ended up using silver for three boxes, gold for another 3 and copper for the last. Just be sure you count how many you have of each color if you're running low to make sure you have enough or you'll have to choose another color.

Also, be sure that whatever you use here, you have a few extra. Brads don't get messed up much, but sometimes a leg can fall off. Eyelets don't always set right and since you'll be pounding them in from the inside, the odds are that you'll mess up more than one.

I do have an eyelet setter that's normally used for fabric but is not small enough. I experimented on my scrap box and found that the hole punching mechanism that's built in is just a bit larger than the hole of the eyelet, so I had to go with the traditional hammer setter. Bummer.

When in doubt, experiment FIRST

Step 6: Punching the Flap

This is pretty self-explanatory, but bears pointing out a few tips.

1) I marked where I wanted my hole with my pencil (switched to sharpie soon after). When trying to figure out where to put your hole, you have to be sure that the eyelet will fit with sufficient paper on either side. The good news is that if your center crease is actually in the center, this can be a great guide for lining it up in the middle.

IMPORTANT: If you're going to use eyelets, remember that the rim of the thing extends further than the hole by a little bit. If you cut it too close, the rim of the eyelet will hang over the side and look not so pretty.

You can choose to measure how far from the tip you want them all to be, but I don't have to be quite that fussy because I have a good eye for "center" as well as "straight", which comes in handy when doing the other flaps. "Ish" was good enough here because I know I can get close. If you didn't inherit these skills, then measuring from the tip may be best. You already have "center" with your crease.

2) Punch the hole. It doesn't matter what method you use as long as whatever you want to use will reach. The flap isn't a problem. The next hole can be though.

NOTE: if you're setting a brad, then you only have to have a tiny hole or slit to fit the legs through, so if you want to use a needle punch, you can probably do that too.

Also, the flap will have more than one layer of paper, but the side of the box won't.

Step 7: Curving the Flap and Marking the Hole for the Box

In order to get the hole you will put in the box to line up correctly, you first have to curve it into the approximate shape you want. If you don't, you'll make a crease that you won't want and might not be able to get out.

1) put your pencil under the flap as close to the top as you can get it WITHOUT unfolding it. You still want it to be flat with a crisp fold where it becomes the inside of the box. (image 1)

2) now either press gently around the pencil, working it down the flap (but NOT the end point) or by sweeping the pencil along the underside of the flap, much like you would do with scissors to curl ribbon. Be gentle though, whichever method you use, because you can pull the box apart if you're too vigorous.

3) With the flap now curved, you can hold the tip to the box. You will mark the hole to punch in the box by making the mark INSIDE of the hole of the flap. That way you know it will line up. Pay special attention to the tip of the flap to be sure it's not hanging down too far or it will get bent when you set the box down. (image 2)

Also, it's best to line up the creases as best as you can, because there should be a corresponding crease down the center of the side of the box to match the crease in the center of the flap. If you can see the crease through the hole, then great. If not, just make sure the flap is coming down as straight as possible and mark your hole. No matter how hard you try, this is hand-folded, so there's little chance it will be perfect. (image 3)

4) Now punch the hole (get the flap out of the way!) by whatever method you like. I used the hole punch because it would reach. If your box is larger, it may not.

IMPORTANT: If you're using a punch set to make the hole, just remember you won't be able to make it from the outside (where your mark is) unless you have a hard surface that you can fit in the box to receive the blow without damaging the box. The BETTER way is to mark your hole on the outside and then take your pencil and push in on the mark. When you look inside the box, you should see the little mark you made. Now you can center your punch tool over that mark and punch from the inside out. Maneuvering the punch might take a bit of practice because the box will be in the way a bit, but when in doubt ... PRACTICE ON YOUR EXPERIMENTAL BOX FIRST. Once you make a hole, you can't glue it back in ... at least not easily.

Step 8: Setting the Eyelet

While setting an eyelet on a flat piece of paper is easy, it's a bit harder to do it on this box.

1) In case someone doesn't know what an eyelet is, it's this little thing in image 1. The end with the rim will be on the outside and the stem will be the part that gets smashed into a flower shape. The stem is what you will feed through the holes.

NOTE: There are eyelets that come with collars and I tried one of those, but it was difficult since you have to work from the inside of the box. Save those for projects that are easier to work with and just use the regular ones. If you punch it correctly, the inside won't look bad anyway. If it's a little messed up after the punch, you can always cover it or smash any wayward bits with a spoon (because the hammer won't work here). The "hole" isn't a decorative element in this case although it could be. It's just the end result of using an eyelet.

Brads are much easier to use to secure the flap to the box, but you'll have to do something about the legs on the inside if they are a concern. To set a brad, all you do is poke a hole (you don't have to punch one) and feed the legs through. On the inside, pull the two legs apart and bend them as closely to the paper as possible. They will still stick up some though, so be aware of that and decide if you need to do something about it or not.

2) Feed the eyelet stem through the hole in the flap (shown in image 3 under the flap) and then the hole in the box, bringing two pieces together. Now, flip the flap side down so that the rim is sitting firmly on the work surface ... yeah, right. This is going to take some practice.

Step 9: Keeping the Eyelet in the Holes : Not As Easy As You Would Think

NOTE: As if you needed this to be any more difficult (I could have switched to brads, but I'm stubborn that way), the inside of the box is dark. To take these pictures, I had to position the lens of the camera to take the image while the flash went through the paper to illuminate the inside. My suggestion, if you can't do this by feel (which I can), is to have a pretty bright portable light that you can use to shine through the paper so you can see what you're doing.

When you flip the box over, the box will come off of the eyelet because the side of the box is curved in and the bottom balloons out. Also, you made a curve in the flap. I had to experiment many times with the best way to keep it all together once it's turned over and I found a way. However, I couldn't take pictures because they just wouldn't make sense. I'll try to explain

Pinch the flap to the box with your thumb on the outside of the box over the eyelet and your index finger on the inside to hold the two pieces on the eyelet. Now, turn the box over so that the rim of the eyelet is sitting flat on your surface. Don't let go yet or the box will pop off. Steadily slip your thumb from between the box and the table while pressing firmly down with your index finger.

This way, you will have the box and flap still securely on the stem of the eyelet and your thumb is now out of the way so that you won't damage yourself when you set it (because there is a hammer involved).

Once you're there ... STILL don't lift your index finger. Now that you have it turned so you can set it, you'd think the next part would be easy, but not really. Not in this case.

1) Image 1 shows the eyelet stem sticking out of the inside of the box, as it should (as well as the fact that my finger is still holding the box on the eyelet). The next trick will be to get the eyelet setter on right. If you aren't familiar, I've added the same picture from the supply list again as a reminder.

Image 2 shows the metal setter (the kit comes with the little hammer in the supply list). One end has an end to pound with the hammer and the other end has this little nipple on it and what looks like petals around it. To set an eyelet, you have to get the nipple in the hole of the stem of the eyelet. When you pound it, it splits and flattens the stem into what looks like flower petals that secure the eyelet to the paper (in this case. I've also done it on leather).

2) Get the setter onto the eyelet. Again, the inside of the box is dark. Luckily, the setter is taller than my box on it's side, so in order to get it to stand straight up on the eyelet (which is absolutely necessary!), all I had to do was push it against the upper part of the box opening to move it aside a bit. Remember, the box will be leaning toward you because of the angle of the side, so be sure you can get your setter entirely vertical before you pound it. If not, you'll make a mess of your eyelet. While you may be able to cover up the mess, if there aren't enough petals around the eyelet, it will possibly slip out and tear your paper.

Once you have the setter firmly on the eyelet, you may remove your finger from the box.

3) Check that your setter is in place before hammering!!! The easiest way to check (because you won't be able to see it even if you have enough light) is to hold it on the eyelet when you think you have it on right and then try gently get the setter to slide off. If you can wiggle it and the setter doesn't come off, then you're in the right place. If it slips off, try again. (image 3)

4) Once you're in place, use the little hammer to pound the shaft and set the eyelet. when it's set properly, you will see even little flower petals in a circle on the inside of the box around the hole. If a petal or two was damaged, you can try to get them down with a spoon. The hammer, while it will fit inside the box, doesn't have enough room to swing it with enough force to get those petals down.

For those not familiar with using eyelets, I have given some tips in the next step. If you know how to set them, then you can skip that part.

Step 10: Eyelet Setting Tips

The hardest thing about setting an eyelet under the best of conditions is to get the setter on straight and to know how hard to hammer. It takes more than you think.

If you have your setter completely vertical, you will get nice even petals. If not, you will get some mangled ones that you'll either have to press down with a spoon or you'll have to try to take the whole thing out. Once it's hammered, there are NO do-overs (with that same eyelet).

If you don't hammer hard enough or enough times (mine took 3 to 4 pretty good whacks ... they're metal after all ... all of them) you won't get enough petals or they won't be long enough to secure your eyelet. If the petals aren't down all the way, the paper will slide up and down the stem and the eyelet could fall out and tear your paper on the way. If only half is secure because your setter wasn't vertical, then if the eyelet pulls out, your hole will be a mess you can't fix other than to cover it up.

If you hammer too hard or too many times, you'll end up with the petals sticking out through the paper around your eyelet. That's not pretty at all. There's no way to fix that.

Well now, when I say "no" way, I mean no easy way.

If you have an eyelet you didn't set properly and you only have some petals with the other half all mangled ... AND you're lucky enough in this project to have those petals facing you, then you might be able to get a needle under them enough to pry them up and break them off. You'll have to get all of them. If you can, then you should be able to back the damaged eyelet out of the hole. The hole will be a bit mangled, but you won't see that when you set the next one in the same hole properly.

If you've managed to get the petals too flat, you'll never get them up. Best to just go with it and use a spoon to get the mangled bits flat enough to keep the eyelet from coming out. This part will be on the inside after all and you can always cover it. However, if you cover one in your box, you'll have to do the same to all of them so that it appears covering the inside of the eyelet was on purpose.

If you've managed to get the petals to stick out the other side of the paper, there's really no way to fix it. They'll be too flat to pry up. You'll just have to go with hoping that no one sees it. They will be tiny anyway.

I can't say this enough ... if you have never used an eyelet setter or any other tool, EXPERIMENT first on your scrap box or on a regular piece of paper until you figure out how to use it properly for the purpose you'll be using it for. Just be sure you have enough eyelets to experiment with.

Say you have a box of brightly colored eyelets and you won't use the yellow ones. Those you can use to experiment with. If you're not sure a glue will dry clear, put a glob on a piece of scrap paper (just not white or you won't be able to tell). If you're not sure a marker will color a gem, then experiment first. Will the color wipe off? If so, can you put something over it to seal it?

Experimentation is a wonderful thing. Just don't experiment on the actual piece.

Step 11: Whew, the Hard Part Is Over. Now Decorate!

Once you have all of your eyelets in, you'll want to go back and clean up the curve a bit more because some of them may have gone a little flat. Just insert your pencil under the flap and smooth it up and down the underside of the flap until you have a good curve that's pretty close to consistent on all sides. You don't have to use your thumb this time as the eyelet firmly holds the flap still. Just don't be too hard on the flap with the pencil. It didn't do anything to you.

Image 1 shows the finished flaps with all of the eyelets in place and just 4 other jewels set for decoration. Remember, this is a small box and doesn't require too much decoration with the patterned paper. I didn't think so, but then again, I did 9 and I didn't want to go all crazy with tiny little fiddly bits.

You can choose to use whatever you like to decorate your box. You're the boss of YOUR box.

Be sure that if you're using self-stick items, that you make sure they're adhered well. For the gems, I placed them and then smashed them between my thumb and finger (my finger was under the flap and under the gem). I did the same to all of the other gems I set.

My "plain" gems came on a strip of glue as they are meant for borders. You can easily separate them with your fingers, but you have to be sure you don't pull the glue off from the under side of the gem. If this happens, a little dot of glue will work fine. Same for if your gems or other bits aren't self-sticking. Just don't get crazy with the glue.

Image 2 shows, again, the Copic markers and the next three show how I chose my colors from the ones I already had. You can use coordinating or complimentary (meaning they live on the opposite side of the color wheel. For instance, if you have a red box, you can choose green markers. If you have a blue box, you can choose yellow markers). I chose coordinating.

You will note in image 6 that I've colored the top gem but not yet the sides. You can see how much of a difference it makes in the overall look. Clear is fine, but I wanted colored. By the way, these markers come with a brush tip as well as a chisel (marker) tip. The chisel tip didn't work at all, so I used the brush tip.

Step 12: And You're Done!

Don't they look all fancy and fussy? They really aren't. The folding is the easy part. As for the rest, anything goes as long as you like it and you can still get the lid on.

Would I use the eyelets again? That depends on what I'm doing on the inside. For this project, if I were to do the same for the same purpose, yes because I didn't want to do more to the inside than I needed to. However, for another purpose, I might try brads. They're much easier.

As to the rest, while there are a lot of steps, I did so many so that the explanation wouldn't be so long.

If you make this or something similar, especially if you some really fancy stuff with nifty and unexpected decorations, please post a picture or two so I can see it! Who knows? You might very well end up teaching me something and I love learning.