How to Make a Pocket Sized Mixed Media Art Box From a Plastic First Aid Kit




After seeing the mini drawing kit on, I thought I'd give it a try and customize one for myself. I have never bought or used an Altoids can. (Yeh I know, PARISH THE THOUGHT) I did have a pocket sized first aid kit that I had bought at the dollar store, that was just begging to have something cool done to it. I thought about what modifications it would need for it to be useful to me "out in the field". I tend to prefer working in mixed media. I also wanted a way to hold the paper, like a tiny easle. I needed a kit with flexibility so that I could add or take away items when I moved on to different medias. I was an art major in college, so don't let my professors see the horrible craftsmanship on this thing. I just wanted to see if it could be done and will work on the craftsmanship late...I promise!

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Step 1: Gathering Materials

First step think about what you want to put in your "art kit". What items are useful to you? What items are too big to fit but you can cut them down? What features would you need for your art kit? I needed durability, customizable features. I didn't want things like my glass bottle of India ink from Italy (My dad was stationed there), to break in my container. I will list the items I used.

Two pencils (HB or #2 depending on which you call them) Mine used to be attached to a compass
Four Erasers (Pink Pearl, White Plastic, Kneaded, and Art Gum)
Pencil Sharpener
Ink bottle
View Finder - I found this cool necklace pendant that works great for this
A water bottle cap for either small amounts of water (for a wash) or to hold some ink
Some sand paper strips (If I just want a sharp edge on the pencil but don't need to sharpen yet)
Some extra colored paper ( I used scrap booking sheets, cut small)
A sawed down paint brush with tiny bristles (perfect for nice clean thin lines)
A tiny office clip for my "easle" on the back of case
Small pad of white paper for sketches
One of those Cute tiny Japanese soy sauce bottles for lunch boxes would be an awesome accessory to hold small amounts of water to rinse your brush out or to use as a wash.
A hot glue gun to glue the tiny office clip on the back for easle
Twist ties ( like from goodie bags or garbage sacks)
You could easily use ribbons for the item above for a nicer look

Step 2: Making Holes for the Twist Ties

There are all sorts of ways you can do this step. I cheated and just used a sharp steak knife to "drill" holes into my plastic box. To use better craftsman ship you can probably use a rotozip on a dremel tool or a tiny drill bit with a hand drill. Plan out where you want the holes for the ties that will hold your drawing utensils. Also for better craftsman ship you can plan out and then mark the spots before drilling. I will definitely try this for a neater appearance next time. After making my holes I threaded twist ties through with the tie peices on the inside of the box so I could twist them around my objects to hold them in place. I like twist ties because I've always got them laying around and they are easily replaceable another cool thing to make it nicer looking would be to use Ribbons or pretty colored strings for this part.
Note: Some of your objects will be too large for one twisty tie to do the job simply make an "x" and twist those ends together, it can be done with three if the need arises.

Step 3: What the Heck Is a View Finder and How Do You Use It?

A view finder is a little "device" and I'm using that term really lightly, that helps an artist determine what would make a good composition. You take it between your fingers and hold at different distances while peering through the little "window" , more experienced artists might not need one of these but they are certainly helpful to me. It's a way to "filter out" all of the other stuff you see so that you can focus on just a few objects. You can make your visual depth bigger by bringing it closer to you and smaller by placing it at arms length or somewhere in between. Or you could just make right angles out of both hands using your index / pointer fingers and thumbs and then rotate them so that you make a little box of those fingers, this trick works too. Either way you kind of look like a dork, but who cares you'll have an awesome composition.

Step 4: Add Your Items

Add your items and secure them in place with twist ties. You may have to move things around a bit to make them fit with the lid closed. This is where properly measuring and marking , using a rotozip instead of a steak knife will come in handy. Plus things will look neater and more professional.

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    5 Discussions


    10 years ago on Introduction

    luv it, thanks for sharing this! check out my paint box it might fit inside your sketch box.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Nice kit, and a great reuse of twist-ties. Have you gotten the chance to use it in the field yet?

    1 reply

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    I've got quite a few ideas for some other kits, so haven't gotten around to it yet. The fourth of July is coming up and we will be going to a cook out that might last a while so I think I might give it a try there. Thanks for your interest.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Great idea... and since I'm always looking at ways to minimize my "portable studio" as my daughter calls it (I've got it down to a pencil case... okay a larger one, but still!), I'll have to give this a try. Not too thrilled with the zip ties, though... may try elastic and hot glue instead.

    1 reply

    I thought about the elastic myself, if the hot glue doesn't work could always drill tiny holes and just "sew" the elastic into place. I'm not sure if the heat will melt the elastic parts. Let me know how that works out. I'm always interested in new ways to do things.