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Cameo Heirloom Treasure Box

Don't keep your treasures in a box. Put them on the box instead!

Cameo Heirloom Treasure Box

On my mother’s visit to Israel this past May, she brought along some heirlooms of my late grandmother’s (her mother).  Among them were some lovely antique brooches, including a splendid Cameo.

I am afraid to lose them, and I don’t really wear pins anyway. They sit in my jewelry box and get swished around in there. Nobody gets to see them or enjoy them, and it feels like an incredible waste. I decided to create something to showcase these antiques and create a feeling of appreciation for the valuable heirloom treasures that they are.

This is the beautiful Cameo that belonged to my grandmother.  It will become the centerpiece on the heirloom box.


I began with a simple wooden box purchased in a craft store. I painted it “Victorian Green,” and applied crackle medium for an antique flair. I created “corners” with rubber stamps and polymer clay, and roses to pull the antique theme together. Acrylic paint was used to color the roses and corners. I put turquoise liquid chalk on the metal hinge and in the “corners” for an old tarnished look. The “rope” design around the cameo is made in the same manner. Finally, I added tiny ruby red gem stones to add a little sparkle.

Everything is glued down with Golden Gel Medium, which is permanent enough to hold things in place, but will not cause damage to the antiques in the case that they may need to be removed someday.

On the very front of the box lid, I secured a brooch that has my grandmother’s initials, IGB. The ‘B’ is from her maiden name, which means the brooch must be at least 70 years old.

Next, I decided that I would present this box to my mother. The heirlooms belonged to her mother and I want her to have them. I’m sure they just “sat” in her jewelry box too! I thought this would be the most wonderful sentimental gift, and to make it even more special I personalized the box with old-fashioned “buttons” to spell out my mother’s name. The buttons are made from polymer clay,then stamped with ‘old typewriter’ rubber stamps. The color of the buttons was achieved by brushing on metallic Pearl Ex pigment powder before baking. After baking, I used a needle to paint the letters with white paint. Looks really nostalgic, doesn’t it?

I found a dreamy ‘music-theme’ artists’ paper in Somerset Studio Magazine, Sept/Oct 2005. The paper is meant to be used in art projects. I love the colors because they blend beautifully with the cameo, and the music theme is perfect because the cameo has a harp in it. Splendid!

The trim on the dividers inside the box are actually beads from an old necklace. I think they are made of brass. I know I would never wear the necklace, but I liked the beads because they could be used as “treasure.” I painted the beads with a dab of antique medium and more liquid chalk. Isn’t it amazing what you can do with just a little bit of imagination?

Someone asked me about liquid chalk in the comments box. Do they have this in America? It’s marketed by a company called Palda, which is very well-known in Israel. There is another company on the label called Tex & Co. One’s written in English, the other in Hebrew. What the difference is- I’m not sure! Press here to visit Palda’s website. It’s in Hebrew, but it may be fun to poke around!

In Hebrew, this product is called “korozya.” Sounds like ‘corrosion,’ which is exactly the look it creates!

Korozya has a thicker consistency than paint. It really feels like chalk that’s been mashed and blended with water. However, once it dries, it won’t get dusty and blow away. It’s hard like stone!


Do you like my Cameo Heirloom Box? I think it’s an absolute treasure. My mother’s birthday is coming up in just a couple of weeks, and the box is currently on its way to her. I absolutely can’t wait to hear her reaction!
And Mom- when you read this, and I know you will- I love you.

This post was written while I lived in Israel, and is very nostalgic.  All the original photos are intact.