PAPERCRAFT TUTORIAL: Faux Leather Tissue Paper Treatment

I was thinking about neat ways to save little Valentine's Day cards, trinkets, and other mementos. I decided it would be nice to make a decorative box that corresponded with the contents. Since Valentine's Day is quickly approaching, I decided to makeover a couple $1 cheery Valentine boxes into dark Valentines. If you've been following me for a while, you know I favorite the macabre and generally dark themed items. This was a great chance to share my artwork, and also a basic way to give an object a faux leather treatment. I used a similar technique to make the League of Space Pirates Gun Box. Instead of dry brushing, I painted designs on the boxes. You can opt to dry brush it, which will bring out the texture more, or paint designs on it. That is up to you. Ok, on to the tutorial.

  • 1 Box - Mine are $1 gift boxes from Dollar Tree
  • White tissue paper - I used one sheet per box, but if you have a larger box, you might need more. You can find large amounts of tissue paper at Dollar Tree
  • White glue - I used Mod Podge Matte (which has a low shine), but Elmer's glue works well too
  • 1 Small foam brush - For applying the glue
  • Acrylic paint - I used black paint to cover the box, but this technique will work with other dark opaque matte paints. I suggest testing out your colors before committing, just in case certain colors look bad. I tested a dark red for the inside of the heart shaped box, and found it looked like bloody ripped skin, which was too creepy even for me. I covered it with black instead. Some colors will be more opaque than others, as I found out. I used other colors to paint the artwork
  • A flat soft paint brush - For painting
  • Wax paper - For protecting your work surface
  • Foam plates - For pouring paint and glue onto
  • Water in a cup - For cleaning the brushes
  • Paper towels - For cleaning the brushes and removing any excess glue or paint
  • Small stiff paint brush - For dry brushing coordinating paints to bring out the texture
  • Small paint brushes - For painting designs
  • Paint pens - For drawing designs. I used a fine black one
  • Pencil - For marking out your design before painting it


1) My foam brush will fit inside the Mod Podge bottle. If you can't put your brush inside your bottle of glue, you can pour the glue onto a foam plate or bowl.

2) If your box has a separate top and bottom, separate them and set them on the wax paper.

3) Crumple up one sheet of tissue paper into a ball. I open it and re-crumple it a few times, so it gets lots of wrinkles. Open the tissue paper and smooth it out a little bit. You don't want to remove the wrinkles.

4) Rip the tissue paper into small sections that are easy to work with.

5) With the glue and foam brush, paint on an even layer of glue onto the top of your box.

6) Choose a piece of tissue paper large enough to cover the top of the box. Lay it over the wet glue layer, and smooth the paper a bit with your fingers or the brush, to adhere the paper to the glue. Keep the small wrinkles intact, as that will create the leather like look.

7) Dip the foam brush into glue. Apply the glue where ever the paper overlaps. Smooth the paper down with your fingers or the brush.

REPEAT STEPS 5-7 all over the box, make sure all the edges are wrapped. I covered the insides and bottoms of the boxes too.

8) Cover the box with an even thin layer of glue. This will seal the paper. You'll have to do this in stages, so no wet section is touching the wax paper. When the whole box is sealed and dry, you can move on to painting it.

9) Wash your foam brush of the glue immediately after your done using it. Otherwise, the glue will dry on the brush and ruin it.

10) Pour a little paint onto a glue free foam plate.

11) Using the flat soft brush, paint the entire box. You might need to do this in stages, so you don't have wet sections laying on the wax paper. Let the painted box dry. Repeat step for a 2nd coat.

You can stop here if you like, or you can add dry brushing and/or artwork to the box.

You can use one or more colors for dry brushing. For the gun box, I dry brushed silver paint onto the black, to give it an alien leather look.

  • Pour a little of your desired color onto the foam plate
  • Dip the tips of your stiff brush into the paint
  • Pounce off a little of the paint onto the foam plate or a paper towel. You want a tiny amount of paint left on the almost dry brush
  • Gently brush the paint onto the box, focusing on the raised texture of the paper
  • Repeat this as needed all over the box
  • You can add more coordinating colors if desired

For the Dia de los Muertos inspired box, I covered most of it in artwork. To learn how to do the artwork on the box, check out the Sugar Skulls and Marigolds Sneakers Tutorial. For the anatomical heart box, I made the design only on the lid. Your design placement is up to you.
  • Using the pencil, online the general design. Remember the base paint coats will cover any details you've drawn inside an outline
  • Pour a little of a desired color onto the foam plate
  • Base coat the part of your design that needs that color
  • Rinse and dry your brush
  • Repeat those 3 steps to base coat your design
  • Mix and add colors on the foam plate as needed
  • Paint your details, switching brush sizes as needed
  • You can use a paint pen to help with finer details. The anatomical heart is drawn with a paint pen
  • If you want your seal your artwork, you can paint a thin layer of Mod Podge Matte for a low shine, or Mod Podge Gloss for a high shine. Only seal the outside of the box if you have a separate top and bottom. Otherwise the box pieces will stick together when shut. If you have a hinged box like the anatomical heart one, you can seal the whole box. I only sealed the Dia de los Muertos box on the outside. I chose not the seal the anatomical heart, because I liked the contrast of the matte black against the detailed heart
That is all for this tutorial. Hope it helps you look at old objects in a new way, as possible faux leather treated pieces. This works best on paper and wood objects, and they are all made of the same material. I plan on make some wood jewelry using this technique, as I have some wood hearts left over from the Conversation Heart Necklace, the Fingerprint Heart Necklaces, and Painted Hearts Earrings. Happy makery!


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