Saturday, 18 February 2017

Borrowers room box, part 3

In my previous post about The Borrowers room box I described how I made the fireplace. It so happened that very soon after that I received a box of rubbish from a friend who was moving house. Being a borrower I had asked her to collect everything she didn't want, even the most outlandish things. The first thing I saw on top of all rubbish was what I really needed for a proper borrowers fireplace. Let's read it again:

"It was a charming fireplace, made by Arrietty's grandfather, with a cogwheel from the stables, part of an old cider-press. The spokes of the cogwheel stood out in starry rays, and the fire itself nested in the centre".

As I explained in the previous post, I didn't have a cogwheel and I had very poor prospects of finding one, but whatever piece of plumbing my friend had put into her gift box, it was just right.


This is still not a cogwheel, but a huge improvement. And I wasn't displeased in the first place. Now I just need to bring the funnel lower down. 

Meanwhile, the description also mentions "that useful stand-by - a chest of drawers made of match boxes". 

Didn't I make all kind of furniture of match boxes: chests, writing desks, nightstands. Both when I was a child and when my daughter was small. But it was all once upon a time when match boxes were made of wood and when you actually used them. Where do you get real, authentic Victorian match boxes these days? I tried ebay, but while they had zillions of match-box labels from all eras and countries, apparently you couldn't just get a set of old-fashioned match boxes. I knew I had to do with modern paper ones, but at least I could be a borrower and a recycler so I posted an appeal in a local Facebook group asking for used matchboxes. Somebody thoughtful, who wished to remain anonymous, put a set in my pigeonhole.

I have seen these in craft shops, and I have no idea what crafty people make with them. What I needed to make was - yes, you get it: match boxes. With labels and abrasive sides. And preferably looking old and worn out.

The old and worn out look is usually achieved with tea, but I had to use diluted paint that I also had to wipe off quickly so that the paper didn't get soaked. I honestly don't know what match-box sides are made of, but I used sandpaper that I painted brown.

I don't think you can strike a match on it, and I am not going to try.

I found printable match-box labels on Pinterest.

Only the label on the top drawer will be visible, but for my own sake I made them properly. And just as borrowers would do, I used beads for knobs.

Isn't this a chest of drawers that Pod Clock would be proud of? (Pod Clock is the name of the father. Their last name was Clock because they lived under a big grandfather clock). Now I need to find many tiny objects that the family would have in the drawers.


  1. Your matchbox drawers turned out so charming! The whole project looks so fun, and I love how creative you are with "borrowed" things. This was one of my daughter's favorite books growing up. I thought you might like to see this matchbox tutorial. It may spur on more ideas for finishes!


  2. Strips of fine grit sandpaper would probably work for the strike things on the side.

  3. As you can see, that's exactly what I did.