Teaching Thursdays: Craft Dorm Decor

By: Candie Cooper – See more of Candie’s crafts at Candie Cooper’s Journal)

This morning I was listening to a story about the movie, “American Grafitti” on NPR.  American Graffiti is about kids living in a small town one more summer before shipping out to college.  My story is pretty much the same, except I didn’t race cars at the end.  It seemed like it took forever for orientation day to come.  I also remember picking out things like a twin size comforter, crates, a futon and shower caddy for my dorm at Purdue.  If you have someone heading to college this year, this is a great send-off gifty for the recent grad.  They are stackable nesting boxes that can be tucked anywhere and hold everything from chewing gum and shots of espresso to flashcards (at least that’s what mine would’ve held).

These are the boxes—see how they fit together so cute?

Pick out the die cuts and lay them out in the boxes.  It helps to take a picture before painting so you can see how you arranged them when it comes time to Mod Podge.

Base coat the boxes in whatever colors you like—school colors would be fun too!  If you look at the brushes above, you’ll see a flat, angled and then another flat paint brush.  The angled brush is key for getting into corners.  I used Apple Barrel paints for this project because they are a little thinner than Folk Art.  The boxes soaked up the paints and dried really fast.

Dry brushing is my favorite surface painting technique.  It’s easy and looks cool when done.  Try some Silver Anniversary Folk Art paint for this step.  My mom actually painted while I took pictures. Insert me saying, “now, hold still”…..”ok, hold still”….” I REALLY need you to hold still.”  We have fun.  She’s the queen painter in the family.

The key to dry brushing is using a really coarse haired brush, dipping it in paint and removing most of the paint off to the side.  Soft bristle brushes don’t work.  Run the brush along your wood surface in whichever direction you like.  You can always practice on a scrap surface first.

Use Mod Podge gloss to adhere all the die cuts—this is where the photo that you took earlier comes in handy to figure out placement.  Photos or school mascot bumper stickers would also be great embellishments.

Now you’ll need the small and large flat brushes (see photo above) to make some stripes around the top of the boxes.  The inner and very outer boxes get tiny stripes and the middle large stripes.  This looks really cool when they’re all together.

A tip for making stripes is to have your brush fully loaded with paint to create really solid stripes.  Less paint makes for brushier stripes.


Seal all of the boxes with Folk Art Gloss acrylic varnish.  This makes everything look nice and finished.  Let’s take a look at all the boxes….


As usual, I want a set of these for holding instant coffee and teas, tubes of seed beads and lip gloss.  Looking at that list, I still feel a bit young at heart.

Wishing you a great back to school season, I am…Candie

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