DIY Gifts for Gardeners: vintage seed packet paper maché boxes

Vintage Seed Packet Paper Maché Boxes: an easy Mod Podge gift to make for gardeners!

I’m a passionate gardener, and passionate about vintage images. Combine the two and I’m in heaven! Displayed in our library are a few of my favorite things . . .

Vintage floral images - especially pansies - are a favorite of mine!

A vintage book about flowers with pansies on the front…and a cat-themed porcelain box (also with pansies) that my husband gave to me by Rosina Wachtmeister, one of my favorite artists.

Pansies are also one of my favorite flowers. You can read why in this loving tribute I wrote about our cat Matisse in 2012: Our cat was a pansy. Here’s why.

Using all of this as inspiration, I made a set of boxes featuring vintage seed packet images. I made three of these, but you can make just one – or several – using this same tutorial.


  • Paper Mache boxes
  • Assorted craft paints (I used two shades of blue and a purple color)
  • Assorted metallic craft paints (I used silver, gold, and bronze)
  • Assorted glitter paints (in colors that coordinate with the paints)
  • Stickles Glitter Glue (in colors that coordinate with the paints)
  • Vintage seed packet images (I found mine via a Google search)
  • Antique Mod Podge in matte
  • Acrylic sealer
  • Tim Holtz Paper Distresser

Let’s begin!

A simple paper maché box, nothing fancy:

There's lots of ways to decorate this plain paper maché box: paints, glitters, glazes, fabric, Mod Podge, ribbon... you're only limited by your imagination!

Step One: Remove the label from the bottom of the box: i.e. the label that will not come off no matter how carefully you try to take it off! I use an emery board to sand down what’s left of those labels, once I can’t get any more off with my fingernails. High tech, I know!

Use an emery board to smooth down any remaining label pieces that don't come off easily.

Step Two: Paint two coats of your chosen colors onto each box and lid. The paint dries super quickly on paper maché, so this step goes fast.

No need to paint the lid all the way, as we’ll be covering it up with a vintage seed packet image.

Let dry.

When Mod-Podging an image onto a box lid, no need to paint the entire lid first. Just paint the areas that will be exposed.

Step Three: Paint the side and outer top edges of each box lid with a matching glitter paint. I used gold glitter paint on the light blue box, blue glitter paint on the darker blue box, and purple glitter paint on the purple box. Just one coat is needed for some extra sparkle! Let dry.

Step Four: Take your boxes (minus the lids) and dry brush some metallic paint onto various spots. I used silver and gold paint on the two blue boxes, and silver and bronze paint on the purple box.

To dry brush – dip your paint brush into the paint, remove most of it onto a paper towel, and then gently paint little strokes and dabs. You want hardly any paint at all on the brush, as you gradually build up color where you want it.

Let dry.

Here’s what the boxes look like so far, with their painted and glittered lids, and the painted sides . . .

Three examples of paper maché boxes painted, then dry-brushed with metallic paints, with glitter paint on the lids.

Step Five: Print out your vintage images onto paper of your choice. I used a medium-weight cardstock that had a slight texture.

Note: Depending on where you get your images from, you will need to play around with the sizing a bit when printing out, in order to make the images cover most of the box lid.

Step Six: Spray both sides of each image with acrylic sealer and let dry.

Step Seven: Eyeball where you want your images to be, then trace the lid over each image. Cut out the circles slowly – about 1/4″ (inches) inside the circle you traced – with sharp scissors.

For easy image placement, trace the box lid onto your chosen image, then cut inside the lines.

Step Eight:  Distress the edges of each circle. You can do this step in many ways, using the emery board mentioned above, or a sanding block.

The edges of this vintage image were distressed using the Tim Holtz Paper Distresser.

I use a little tool that has become one of my favorites: the Tim Holtz Paper Distresser! It has seriously changed my life. Ok, too dramatic. It can (and does) change the look of paper easily. Love, love, love!

Tim Holtz Paper Distresser

Step Nine: Decoupage the images onto each box lid, using antique Mod Podge. Set aside to dry.

Here’s what they look like so far . . .

Paper maché boxes painted and glittered, with vintage seed packets Mod Podged onto the lids!

You could leave your boxes like this, as they have a nice subtle sparkle around the outside edge of each vintage seed packet image, but I like to take it a step further just to give them a more finished look.

Step Ten: Outline the edges of each image on top of the box with matching glitter glue.

I love using Stickles glitter glue for this purpose because of the tiny applicator tips which make it easy to apply tiny lines of glitter exactly where you need them.

Stickles glitter glue

Let dry. And that’s it!

A trio of vintage seed packet paper maché boxes: make some for a sweet gift or to hold a gift card!
Here’s a couple of  “up close” shots so you can see the glitter and paint details . . .
Vintage rose images decoupaged onto a paper maché round box.
1910 vintage seed packet image Mod Podged onto a painted and glittered paper maché box.

Asters vintage seed packet paper maché box . . .

Asters Vintage Seed Packet Paper Maché Box: a lovely Mod Podge keepsake gift for gardeners!

Pansies vintage seed packet paper maché box . . .

Pansies Vintage Seed Packet Paper Maché Box: a pretty handmade gift for gardeners!

Roses vintage seed packet paper maché box . . .

Roses Vintage Seed Packet Paper Maché Box: a pretty Mod Podge gift to make for gardeners!
I love how well these boxes match with my inspiration pieces . . .
These handmade paper maché boxes match well with their inspiration pieces for a sweet collection!

Any gardener would love receiving one of these as a gift. You could put a little sweet something inside each one, maybe a small sample size of luxuriously moisturizing hand lotion, as we gardeners need to pamper our hands!

And if you want another example of an easy-to-make gift box – one that only takes 15 minutes to make – check out my tutorial to make this Holiday Gift Box . . .

Holiday Gift Box Tutorial - only takes 15 minutes to make!

Happy crafting!