The Alchemist Compass – Part 2

Am I the only one who goes into their craft room and comes out minutes, hours, days later wondering what happened?  I think craft rooms must be similar to worm holes in the universe – it’s magic in there!

So, I’m in the process of turning a yard sale ring box and dime store compass into an ‘Alchemist Compass’.  Let’s go!


I always look for the old jewelry boxes that are made out of metal – I like how they are to work with compared to the plastic which, depending on what technique you might be using, could wind up getting cracked, chipped, melted or deformed.  This box is probably from the 70’s judging by the (ugly) green.  This compass set is going to be on the smaller size, my largest was closer to double this.



The inner linings usually pull or rip out easily.  Look at that great, sturdy little metal box underneath!


Next, I start ripping off the outside covers.  In this case, they have a sticky backing and once I get an edge going – pull right off.


And out comes the tools.  I’ve got all the outside cover removed and most of the inside, but there’s still a few patches left inside and I’m going to want to remove the hinge as well.  Here’s a couple of shots around the box.



Notice that gold band that covers three sides, but not the back, of the bottom’s top edge?  I afraid I failed you here because I didn’t get a photo of the removal of that piece.  It’s just a metal strip that has been folded in half and then crimped onto the edge.  I gently pulled up an edge and then carefully pulled the strip off once I get the edge started.  I’m not sure if I’ll put this back on, so for now, I just set it aside.


The arrow is pointing to a couple of things:  1.  See the little white threads?  That’s the edge of the last of the green fabric that’s trapped under the hinge.  2.  That’s the hinge and can you see the little metal tabs that are folded over flat?  Not very well but they’ll show up better in other photos to come.  But using something stiff, thin and quite flat (I used and old scalpel) slip under the edge of a tab and pry it out away from its flat position.  Once you have it out just a bit you can use some small needle nose pliers to fold it on out until it’s perpendicular to the box.  Once they’re both out you can remove which ever piece was attached there, in this case, the top/lid of the box.  

This serves two purposes:  1.  Now I can remove the remaining fabric.  2.  It’s going to be easier to add whatever covering/alteration I make without the hinge there to work around.

I chose to work on one piece at a time on this project starting with the lid that is now separated from the bottom.

One more thing at this point – I don’t bother to remove any of the tape residue left on the metal.  I’m going for the “Antique, Distressed” look here and little bumps and ridges under the art only adds to this effect IMHO.


I’ve used this grid stamp on other compasses only this time it’s going to be the main theme throughout this project.  I’ve also chosen a heavy tissue paper (seamstress pattern paper).  First I ‘age’ my paper by simply rubbing a light tan colored ink pad across the surface.

Then using an archival black, I stamp the grid pattern, being sure to leave some excess paper all around to cover the entire area, in this case, the inside of the lid.


I always keep a pot of ModPodge Matte, slightly diluted, and ready to go for my collage projects.  I wet down the inside of the lid and the back side of the paper with glue.  This is going to help me get the pattern situated before the glue dries too much and I can’t move the paper anymore.  Still, it took me three tries before I got this piece close enough to where I wanted it (still not perfect, but hey, it’s “distressed” art so close counts).


I let it dry before taking the next step of trimming off the excess paper. I like how the smudged ink has transformed with the glue and the semi-transparency of the pattern tissue paper.

I’ll show the trimming process a bit more clearly a few photos from now – so hang on.


But here’s a shot of the inside of the lid dried and trimmed.  Can you see the little metal tabs on the inside of the bottom edge?  I gently pushed these through the paper when it was still wet and then I smooth the paper down, all around, with a paint brush wet with glue until I get it the way I like it.  I don’t worry much about wrinkles and tiny tears – it all adds to the patina of age looking authentic.

Time to exit the craft room vortex – Alchemist Compass – Part 3 coming right up!



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