Super Simple Asian-Inspired Cigar Box Purse

by Sara Naumann

Cigar box purses are all the rage! In fact, decorated cigar box purses can sell at fashionable boutiques for $60.00 and up! Designer Paris Dukes loved the idea of a simple wooden box with collaged images, fibers and three-dimensional embellishments, but didnt love the idea of spending so much money! The solution? A collaged cigar box purse she made herself!

After visiting the Japanese Gardens in Portland, I was eager to try my hand at creating an Asian theme for a purse, says Paris, who was inspired by the gardens many shades of soft purple and lavender.

Basic Cigar Box Tips:
Preparing the box:

Use the screwdriver to remove the hardware from the box; set the hardware aside. Or, use masking tape to cover the hardware, trimming it around the edges to expose all the wood surface.

Lightly sand the box outside and inside. Wipe the box clean with a soft cloth. Apply a coat of sealer to the box outside and inside; let dry. Paint the box as indicated in the main instructions and let dry. Re-attach the hardware.

If painting with the hardware on the box, use a small tip paintbrush and carefully paint around the hardware.

Attaching the pull handle set:

Insert the screw into the drilled hole from the lid inside and tighten with a screwdriver to secure the handle base in place. Use a drill to make holes in each side of the lid for the handle base pieces. For a flush mount, drill the hole the same size as the mounting stem. For a raised mount, drill the smaller hole size to fit the screw.

Attaching the hardware:

Unscrew one end of the handle. Thread beads onto the handle, then screw the end back onto the handle. Attach a clasp button to each handle clamp. Insert the handle base into the clasp button, then press it closed. Repeat for the other side.

Align the handle clamps on the box side opening edge. Insert the screws into the screw holes and tighten to secure the handle clamps in place. After preparing the wood surface, replace the original latch set onto the box, or try an alternate latch set for a unique look. Insert the screws into the screw holes and tighten to secure.

Paris Spirit, Love, Peace Purse

Paris painted the box lavender for a soft base color, then lightly sponged purple paint onto the surface for dimension. She tore two 6"x4" rectangles of lavender textured paper and glued one to the front and one to the back of the purse. She glued torn writing, character definitions and a stamp to the front, then wrapped a cut-out maze image onto the lower right corner for depth. The mah-jong tiles glued to a mica panel become an alluring focal point. Paris glued brass corners to the purse front for an elegant way to balance the embellishments with the glass and brass beadedhandle.

The purse back features stamps and a writing panel with torn edges, then a cut out floral panel for added interest. The mica corners give a translucent look to the edges.

Paris tied purple fibers to the purse handle, adding large-hole brass beads to some of the fibers. The small gold key adds another touch of shine.

Paris designed this project for Cigar Box Purses, a book-with-art collection that contains instructions for 20 cigar box purses plus original vintage-style cigar box art to create 12 boxes. These boxes make fabulous gifts for girlfriends and sisters. Or, leave off the purse handle and decorate a cigar box for the guy in your life.

Supply List

7"x5 1/2"x2 1/2" wood cigar box with hinges and closing clasp
5 1/2"x 3 3/4" brass handle frame
1 1/4" brass handle clamps
two 1" brass clasp buttons
assorted brass and purple glass beads
4 wavy-edge brass corners
textured patterned paper from Artsy Collage Part not in database (may have been discontinued): #4334
stamps, floral labels, word art images from Artsy Collage Asian Paper Art
mah-jong tiles, mica, key from Paper Pizazz Far East Treasures
purple fibers from Paper Pizazz Grape Jelly Fibers
Artsy Collage Decoupage & Collage Gel
Artsy Collage The Ultimate Glue
acrylic paints: lavender, purple
sea sponge
liquid acrylic sealer
1" wide foam paintbrush
fine grain sandpaper
Phillips head screwdriver
drill with bits (for pull handle set installation)
awl (or hammer and nail)
soft cloth

Paris says, The purse componentsfrom the wood box to the handle and beadsare all available at Michaels stores.