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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.


  • November 6, 2006

    You have certainly done a lot of work here and i love the clolour scheme. In fact it has made me think about all the bits of jewelry I ahev as well. I am sure your mum will love it.

  • November 6, 2006

    Rivkah, you have created a beautiful gift for your mum. I am sure she will be thrilled with it. I hope you do insure it when you send it by post. Why don’t you give it to her when she comes to visit you? Anyway I am sure she will love it. You did a great job. You are so talented.

  • November 6, 2006

    Hi Rivkah!

    Thanks so much for sharing the beautiful gift you have made for your mom!!! I know she will just love it and all the warm memories of her mom and of you will give her great pleasure every time she sees it. Great job!!! Wonderful idea!!

  • November 6, 2006

    This is an absolutely wonderful idea! I’m sure your mother will love it. What is liquid chalk?

  • November 6, 2006

    Rivkah You made your mother a beautiful gift which I am sure she will always treasure, it is really beautifully done and I am quite sure she knows she has a wonderfully talented daughter. Why don’t you let your mother come to visit you and then present her with her gift?

  • November 7, 2006
    heather chandler

    Rivah, what a wonderful idea, and so beautifully crafted. I’m sure your mum will love it. The same idea could be used for a man, maybe using all those odd cuff links dads seem to have.

  • November 7, 2006

    Rivka, it is so gorgeous! You should send it to Somerset Magazine—what an inspiring project!

  • November 7, 2006

    Hi, Rivkah! I love the box, and I KNOW your mother will be thrilled. You do beautiful work, and I loved reading about how you decorated the box. Thanks for sharing.


  • November 7, 2006

    Hi Rivkah –
    Thanks for telling us about the wonderful box you made for your mom. What a unique and lovely gift, that celebrates your grandmother!
    Great job!

  • November 7, 2006

    The box is absolutely amazing – you are very creative in your use of the heirlooms and I’m sure it will be treasured by your mother and many more generations to come. I loved reading your explanation on the blog and I would certainly laminate a copy and send it along with the box.
    כל הכבוד

    ברברה עמיהוד

    Barbara in Montreal

  • November 8, 2006


    What an absolutely gorgeous box and made with so much love and thought. Your mother is lucky to have you as her daughter.

  • November 8, 2006
    Leslie in New Jersey

    Oh my gosh!!! The box is gorgeous and the pictures and blog are fantastic!
    You are so creative! I have in a safe all of my mother’s jewelry (I don’t
    really wear much) and have been wondering what to do with it – I have a box
    full of beautiful cameos.

    I am going to store your project idea in the back of my head with all the
    other wonderful ideas members of this list have inspired me with (including
    using the frabric from the dresses my mom had custom made for our family’s
    bar/bat mitzvah celebrations to make a tallit for myself – thanks Marilyn).

    (You can probably tell from this post that I am a saver!! I was just
    talking with a friend last night about “felting” wool – I have my mom’s old
    worn out cashmere sweaters just waiting in a corner to be felted! I
    obviously can’t throw or give anything away!

    Again, your box is beautiful. Thanks for posting and thanks for the in
    depth explanation of the process. When (and I mean when) I finally get to
    my projects, I know the info will come in very handy!

  • November 8, 2006

    Rivkah…the box is stunning! I KNOW your mother will
    be positively thrilled with this wonderful treasure.
    Thanks for sharing!

  • November 8, 2006
    Elizabeth Levy

    The box is beautiful. You were so right about these beautiful treasures being wasted as they hide in your jewelry box.
    Your wonderful idea sprang to memory two ideas that my friend and I have used:
    1- My neighbor had in her box of scrap fabric the most outrageous house-coat (my mother used to wear these and called them moo-moos) that her maternal Grandmother used to wear every Erev-Shabbat. She came to me one day to help her use the fabric in a small memory quilt for her mother. Well, the fabric was old and definitely not cotton. When we cut a piece it would not keep its shape. We figured a quilted wall hanging would be to hard for her (she is not a quilter). Then we decided to decoupage the fabric onto a wooden box to make a memory box instead. It worked out great!
    2- I also have loads of pins from my grandmothers, mother, my father’s air force days and my own from my skiing and girl scouts. I have one quilted wall hanging that covers up the timer for the boiler. It is a simple log-cabin-star wall hanging. In the middle of every yellow star I pinned some of my favorite pins. One of my neighbors saw this and now wants her own wall hanging to pin all her old pins to.
    Just thought I would share.
    Thanks for sharing Rivkah.
    Elizabeth Levy

  • November 8, 2006
    Judith Powell

    Rivkah, I love your box. Your mother is going to be so
    excited. What a wonderful gift.
    Judith Powell

  • November 8, 2006
    Nancy LeVant

    The box is a treasure in oh so many ways. What a perfect gift for your
    mother. My mother just loved gifts from the heart like this. I know your
    mother will too. Happy birthday, Mother.
    Yours, Nancy LeVant in Rochester, NY

  • November 8, 2006
    Needle Pulling Thread

    Rivkah your memory box isjust beautiful!I am sure your mother will be touched and will use the box to store her treasures!
    I can feel the love that went into the box, it touched me!
    Great job!


  • November 8, 2006

    Beautiful, as always! I love the sentiment and am sure your mother will as well. What a good daughter you must be!

  • November 8, 2006
    ali_oops (Lois)

    Rivkah…what a beautiful gift to your Mother!! I know you put alot
    of time and effort ( and loads of Love) in that box…indeed it is a
    treasure. She is going to wait and see =). Please be sure
    and let us know once she receives it. Thank you so much for
    sharing…and by the way I love your 360. Fun way to keep in touch
    huh? Thank you again…Lois a/k/a Ali

  • November 9, 2006
    Ethel Marcus

    What a stunning box!! Absolutely magnificent. It gave me ideas fro what to do with some of my mother’s older pieces to pass on to my niece.
    Thanks for the idea.

  • November 9, 2006

    Teasures within treasure! Your mom will love it. Something given from the heart is received in the heart and never forgotten. Rivkah – you are the treasure! Happy Birthday Ima and many more.
    Much Love
    Marlyn, Hod Hasharon, Israel

  • November 11, 2006
    Marge Bresel

    What a beautiful keepsake for your mom. I love the creative way you used the jewelry to make a new treasure. Thank you for sharing this with us.

  • November 13, 2006

    Dear Rivkah,
    I cannot think of a more beautiful and loving gift for your mom, Kol HaKavod. Your creativity knocks my socks off! It is so special….
    Happy Birthday, Carol!

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