Cigar box purses are a popular item with many crafters. For those that love the thrill of converting a second-hand article into a work of functional art, creating a purse out of a cigar box is just the project for you.
What Are Cigar Box Purses?
Vintage style, cigar box purses always seem to find their niche in fashion. For many, it is an inviting way to enjoy a piece of the past. Whether it is memories of your grandfather's favorite smoke or the simplicity of the sachet design, a cigar box purse can become a nice addition to your handbag wardrobe, and a rival to vintage designer styles.Traditionally made from wood or sturdy thick cardboard, cigar boxes are just that -- cases to hold cigars. Once the cigars have been smoked, the boxes are often tossed aside. Although most are smaller, rectangular hinged containers, they are available in a variety of sizes and shapes. In order to convert the box into a cigar box purse, in essence, all it takes is the addition of a petite handle.
Make Your Own
In order to be a true cigar box purse, the handbag must be created from a cigar box. This leads to the expectation that all will be handcrafted. You can either make your own, or buy one that someone else has created. If you enjoy crafts, making your own cigar box purse can be simple and fun. Cigar box purses made by others can sell from $30 on up to $200, while you can make one of your own for less than $10.
Selecting the Cigar Box
The basic process begins with the selection of a proper cigar box. Unless you are an expert crafter, start with a few basic free versions to practice. The best place to find a free cigar box is through family and friends who smoke cigars. You can also start your search at any store that sells fine cigars. Many shop owners may even give them away for free. Another potential hunting ground is thrift stores and garage sales, or even your father's attic. Once you have the knack, you will want to select the sturdiest, most interesting wood-built box you can find.
Cleaning and Prepping
Once you have selected your favorite cigar boxes, the next step is to clean and prep. After a thorough washing, you will need to determine which stickers, paper covers and decals you would like to keep. Remove undesirables with a hair dryer and preserve your favorites with a varnish. Then sand and coat the entire exterior with a couple coats of polyurethane.
There are an unlimited number of ways you can design this unique purse. Use a vintage image, paint the box white and add polka dots or embellish it with accessories. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Around the World: Create cigar box purses with themes like the Asian inspired cigar box purse pattern at Paper Wishes. Other themes you could try might include using a Canadian maple leaf, colors from an Italian flag or the American flag.
- Photo Collage: To really personalize your cigar box for a friend or family member, gather favorite pictures and create a collage to glue onto the front of the box. For grandma, you could include pictures of all the grandkids. For a best friend, include pictures of happy moments you've spend together.
- Games: Get inspired by a favorite board game, a deck of cards or childhood playground games. Craftser.org has pictures of a cigar box purse inspired by the game Clue. You could also create a similar purse with a Monopoly theme, use a deck of cards, paint on dice or even draw a hopscotch trail across the box.
- Painting: Cigar boxes can be sanded and painted. Use a stencil or create your own painting. You could also create patterns like polka dots, hearts, stripes or zig zags.
Lining and Decorating
The interior can then be coated in foam and lined if desired. The hardware can be replaced with more decorative and sturdy options found at home improvement or craft warehouses. Play with paint, wallpaper or other decorations on the exterior and interior surfaces using one of the ideas above or coming up with a unique concept of your own. Once the box is complete, you can then add a handle and decorations to complete the cigar box purse.
If this basic process spikes your interest, visit your local craft, bead or home improvement store. There you can find design patterns, accessories, hardware and beads to make your own special creation. With a vintage box and decorative handle, your cigar box purse can become an instant artsy fashion ornament.
Buy One Instead
Maybe you simply love the look or the nostalgia, but don't have the time, interest or patience to make your own. You are in luck, because many hobby crafters have turned their passions into profitable businesses.
Cigar box purses are among the many types of homemade products you can buy locally or online. Options are available at a variety of price points, depending on the quality of the material and the level of artistic details. Most start around $30 on Etsy and Ebay. However, the bags that are handpainted or have unique features, such as lampbeads on the handle, may run $65 and up. One thing is guaranteed, each purse you buy will have a distinctive personality. You can purchase supplies to make your own bag at UMX or BJ Craft Supplies.