Collaged Photo Display Box

As usual, I was stumped on the thought of a Christmas gift for my mom. Let's face it, when you get to a certain age you pretty much have every object you want, need or desire. I figured I could somehow use the photos I had from our summer travels. Having done endless photo albums, calendars, mouse pads etc. etc. etc., I wanted to find something new to do.

In the days before digital cameras, when you took a roll of film to the drive-thru photo processing shop, Mom always had a bowl on the coffee table where she'd toss all the photos. It was an un-edited, un-retouched, un-Photoshoped collection of life as it had happened. With that in mind, I decided to gather up all the ephemera I'd collected from our trip and collage it onto a box that I'd fill with photos. I did have to pick and choose the photos. By the time everyone added their pictures to the Flickr page there were over 3000. I cut back to 180, which fit nicely into the box I found.

Finished Photo Collage Box

I started out with an appropriately sized box that I found on Amazon:

I put a thin coat of gesso onto the outside of the box. (In retrospect, I would have painted the inside of the box black at this point. I think it would have been easier than doing it at the end.) I was really happy with the quality of the box. I didn't need to do any sanding either before or after the gesso coat. I used my standard go to cheap gesso -  Windsor & Newton Acrylic White Gesso
Box after priming with gesso

I decided to cover the whole box in maps to have a uniform background to glue all the little bits and pieces I'd collected on our travels. I used a map of Prague for the top, and Berlin for the bottom. This gave me a sort of "neutral" ground to work on and provided continuity. If I weren't such a pack rat, and hadn't collected such a large pile of ephemera I could have stopped here and been quite happy. I picked sections of the maps that had the location of where we stayed and the neighborhoods where we spent the most time. I used Mod Podge to glue it down. I didn't do a coat over the top of the maps - just used the Mod Podge like glue. (Acrylic gel would work fine as well, but it's more expensive, so I usually keep Mod Podge around for these crafty projects.)


Then I gathered my bits and pieces together and started to sort through them. I picked bits from our favorite restaurants, museums and gallery exhibits and added in train tickets and menu images. Obviously, I carry a big bag when I travel and constantly stuff it with the throwaways that cross my path. Anything that has any sort of interesting imagery I keep. (Like the sheet from the Czech Mucha postage stamps.)
travel ephemera
I cut everything up, glued it down and using a watered down acrylic painted little house symbols on the map to show where we stayed.

work in progress
back of the collaged box

one side of the box - Prague memorabilia on top, Berlin on the bottom

box with photos inside

side of the box

top of the box - memories of Prague