Sunday, July 25, 2010

How to make an explosion photo box

Last week I had a great time with twelve wonderful ladies during a workshop at the Lakeland Hospice office. I promised them all that I would post cutting directions so they'd be able to duplicate what we made that evening. Here's a shout out to all of them!

To make an explosion box you will need a set of paper which includes pattern and cardstock all in coordinating patterns and colors. It's so much easier to not have to worry about matching. It's one of the reasons I love Close to my Heart paper packs. The one I used for this particular box is from a special of the month that we had a little while back. It's called the Miracle kit. The colors are gorgeous. It's no longer available but I do have a few left for sale if anyone is interested. First off you need a piece of cardstock measuring 12" x 12" (not hard to find I know). Using your trimmer you want to score in from each outside edge 4". Click on this link if you do not know how to use a dry embossing tool and your trimmer to do this.


Now cut a piece of coordinating cardstock 11" by 11". Score in from each side 3 3/4 inches. Cut a third piece of cardstock 10" by 10" and score in from each side 3 1/2 inches.

Cut the corner squares out from each of the three cardstocks.

When you've finished they should like this. Don't throw those squares away, they will be perfect for cutting your photo mats.

All through this tutorial I'm going to give you options. One is to choose to cut off the corners with a corner rounder (or any type of corner design punch) or not. I chose to do it for this box. If you like to distress, go ahead and do the edges on BOTH sides since both sides will show. I used olive ink on mine. Another option is how to decorate the sides of the boxes. You can leave them plain, add a strip of paper, a row of buttons, anything, but just make sure you put the decorations towards the center or the bottom of the box so they won't interfere with the top when you put it on. For this box I decided to do some dry embossed lines. It's a look that I turn to again and again. I made the lines go different ways for each of the three layers of the box and I really like the way they turned out.

Now take the largest of the three "plus signs" and cut patterned paper mats 3 3/4" by 3 3/4". That's one 1/4" smaller than the size of the squares on the outside part of the box, makes sense, right? For the inside mats I cut cardstock pieces (leftovers from the cutting earlier) 3 1/4" by 3 1/4".

You can do as I did and make the opposite sides one pattern paper with the other two sides being a different one or use all the same, mix and match at your pleasure.

Glue them in the center of the pattern paper squares and then evenly glue each on the first layer of the box. Distressing is optional but if you did the outside box layers you should distress all inner pieces too.

You can see that I decided to dry emboss lines on the inside cardstock mats, up to you. Another idea would be to randomly stamp on the cardstock squares. Remember that most of your photo will be covering these mats so no need to go too fancy.

Layer two works the same way. Cut your pattern paper mats 3 1/4" by 3" and your cardstock mats 3" by 2 3/4". Glue them down.

The smallest layer (which will end up being the top layer when the box is open) needs pattern paper mats measuring 2 1/2" by 3" and cardstock mats measuring 2 1/4" by 2 3/4". For the center (since it will show), cut a mat of pattern paper 2 3/4" by 2 3/4".

Now you can put the bottom of the box together. Turn over the middle sized "plus sign" and put double sided tape inside just the center square. Glue dots would work okay too.

Turn it over, line it up centered over the largest "plus sign" and press center down. It should look like this.

The top layer requires the smallest "plus sign" and you need to do the same thing with the double stick tape. Once on, line up over center "plus sign" and glue down.

Now they should all fold up on the scored lines, fold one piece at a time to make sure they all are folded evenly.

For the top, you need to cut a piece of cardstock 8" by 8". I used the same color as the outside of my box but it would be cute if you changed it up and used another coordinating color. Score in at 2" from each side then lay your paper on your trimmer lining it up with the scoring line and put a nice even diagonal line on each corner as you can see here.

I recommend decorating before putting your box together. For something different I decided not to round the corners of these pieces of paper. Cut a variety of cardstock and pattern papers 3 3/4" by 3 3/4", 3 1/2" by 3 1/2" and 3 1/4" by 3 1/4". Layer and glue down. If you are going to be stamping a title on the top of your box (as seen towards the end of this tutorial on my other box) do it now and you might want to use cardstock as your top layer on this decoration.

Now it's time to decorate. I made a cute little flower embellishment for the center of the inside of the box and it didn't show up on the pattern paper well so I added this little 2" by 2" cardstock piece which I embossed and turned diagonally.

I glued it down to the center to give me a better background for my flower.

The Miracle kit had stickease and Irresistibles chipboard in it so I inked, layered and glued it as my center decoration.

For the top of the box I did the same thing using a butterfly instead. I also used some border stickease to frame the butterfly. This is where you can really get creative. I added a little sparkle by putting glue on the butterfly's design.

I dumped prisma glitter on it and let it dry.

Once you've decorated you can make your box. Use liquid glass or a strong glue like it. Fold the corners in and glue together to make a little triangle.

Once the corners are glued in they leave a little triangular flap that you can then fold down and glue inside of the box. With liquid glass you only need to hold it closed for a moment. If you don't want to hold it use paper clips.

Once finished your box should look like this inside.

Turn it over and let it dry well.

Once the top is dry fold up the sides of your box.

Put the top on and it's ready to explode!

Here's how it looks when you remove the top. It's just waiting for your photos.

Here's another example with photos and a title on top. My daughter recently attended an anime convention and she and all of her friends called it "The Con." We teased her quite a lot about it so when I decided to use pictures from my own Close to my Heart convention I thought "The Con" would be a funny title.

The paper set here is Splendor, it is available on my website if you would love some too! This little box was just perfect to show off all the fun I had at my convention in Washington D.C. Next year our convention is Anaheim. Contact me if you would like to join us!!

I want to share two websites that I used when figuring out how to make one of these boxes. Thanks to:

Glitter Adventure and Scrapbook-Crazy


  1. I looove these boxes Barb!! Your directions are way easier than the ones I've used in the past!! Definitely will be using yours from now on!! Thanks!!

  2. Thank you so much for such detailed directions & pictures, I can't wait to make my own. I can see my daughter doing this as a 4-H project. Sure wish I lived closer, I'd be attending alot of your classes!! Karen Hoffman, IL