Dead Man’s Chest (from Pirates of the Caribbean)

For a TV/Movie themed craft swap on Craftster, I made this Pirates of the Caribbean inspired “Dead Man’s Chest.”

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Pirates of the Caribbean Dead Man's Chest with dual skeleton key from Walt Disney World

Pirates of the Caribbean Dead Man’s Chest with dual skeleton key from Walt Disney World

This was the initial inspiration:
(seen here by bornahorse on DeviantArt)

What I did was buy an unfished wooden chest from my local craft store. (I bought this one at Joann but Micheal’s has an assortment of wooden boxes too.) I used that as my base to build up the decoration. I needed something that didn’t have to be fired/baked because I was starting with a wooden box. So immediately, polymer clay was out.

I browsed the options and first tried using Creative Paper Clay but I had problems with it sticking to the wood and also, it was irritating my hands so I had to find something else.

Next I went back and found La Doll stone air dry clay which is what I ultimately used.

I spent hours shaping, rolling and applying the clay to the surface of the box. It stuck rather well on it’s own but I also helped it along with little bits of white glue when needed. It worked very much like real clay – it didn’t feel any different for being an air dry formula. I was able to use small amounts of water to help smooth and push the clay along when I had to fill in areas or blend edges.

Here is what it looked like when I was done with the clay:


The clay needs time to air dry and can be anywhere from 24 hours to a week depending on the thickness. I placed it up out of the way and left it untouched for about 4 or 5 days to harden.

The other nice part of the LaDoll clay is that once it’s dry, you can paint it with just about anything. I used good old fashioned acrylic paint in several shades of brown for an aged or weathered look along with some gold metallic Sharpie for the accents.

And voila! I had a finished box inspired by the Dead Man’s Chest from Pirates of the Caribbean!



The project was something I hadn’t done before using new materials. But I can say that though it was quite time-consuming to sculpt out all the pieces (several hours of work), the LaDoll clay was really easy to work with and I had no difficulties even being a total novice. I would definitely recommend the product if you need to sculpt or decorate something with real clay but without the difficulty of a needing a kiln.

Harry Potter Trinket Box

And now for something completely different! Besides my jewelry, I’m also very crafty in general. I do a lot of craft swaps on Mainly, I tend to make jewelry there too since it’s my specialty, but sometimes, I also go for projects that are different. It’s nice to do something outside your normal wheelhouse and comfort zone sometimes.

One recent example is the Harry Potter Trinket box I made:

The lady I was crafting it for had an example one she liked on her wishlist. So I used that as in the inspiration and wanted to come as close to the inspiration piece as possible. The first problem was that I needed to find the Harry Potter scrapbook paper for it. Struck out locally but found it on ebay. Next, I needed a box. I picked up an unfinished one from Michael’s but when the paper arrived, I found out it was too small. The only one big enough had a stupid handle on it that I didn’t need. Similar to this:

So I bought it anyway along with an sharp craft knife and got to work. I carefully sliced through the glue holding the handle on and eventually was able to break it off. That left some rough spots so I had to then sand it down. I also filled some of the deeper gouges left to keep it as flat and even as possible. Next came a few coats of Gryffindor yellow paint on the entire box – all the outside and inside. Even though it was going to be covered in paper, I wanted a nice, base coat for any places you could see in the seems.

After that, I covered it in the paper itself. That was a project! I used Mod Podge to both glue it down and to seal it with several coats. After it dried, I glued on a brass key and I also glued on the little “feet” I bought separately for the box and painted those. Next came an overall aging and paint touch-up job where I added some brown and reds in dry brush and wipe-off techniques to the feet, seems and edges of the box. Just to tone down the yellow and make it look a little more used and worn-in.

The final step was a couple coats of a spray-on gloss coat just to help protect it and give it a little more gloss shine.

All told, it was a much bigger project then I had planned going in. Spent about three evenings on the piece all together. But I think it was a lot of fun and it was neat having something different to do for a change. I hope she really gets a kick out of it and now maybe next time I make one I’ll have a little more knowledge going in and I’ll be able to better prepare for the inevitable problems that come up when you craft something! 🙂