A limited edition set of six Tiny Treasure Boxes are ready to display for the Spring Into Art Open Studio. The idea to use saved candy boxes and tiny treasures originated a long time ago. A spring cleaning of the studio was the impetus to indulge myself with a fun project. Anyone who has visited the studio knows that I have tiny things all over the place. There’s some mystery about miniature things that beckons me to collect them.

The reason I had the candy boxes calls for the next chapter in the story about my paternal grandparents. During the Great Depression they were able to keep their Central Paper Box Company in Chillicothe Illinois open. They were town heroes who employed many during the stressful time. Grandpa, my first art teacher, was the co-owner and grandma kept the books and accounting. They were frugal to the extreme. Years later when I came along, I was deeply impressed by my grandmothers’ closet of boxes and wrapping papers. She was the original recycler, to my thinking. She would point out what distinguished a solidly constructed box. To this day, when I receive one in that category, I keep it, knowing I will use it in some way.

Stack of candy boxes

Stack of candy boxes

The idea of Tiny Treasure Boxes at first was intended as a gift box of eye candy, or soul candy, that had zero calories. The candies were tiny artifacts that had been kept in the storage boxes. Good ones, of course like the wood one my dad made for my beads. Some things could be shared into the candy boxes, but some stayed in that box for another time. A sturdy pear box held my collection of lenses, stones and mirrors, used when I made boxes á la Cornell. I thought of them as candies at the Concession Stand of the Memory Theater.

Inside one of the "Tiny Treasure Boxes" by Kathleen O'Brien

Inside one of the “Tiny Treasure Boxes” by Kathleen O’Brien

"Tiny Treasure Box, Robin", map, by Kathleen O'Brien

“Tiny Treasure Box, Robin”, map, by Kathleen O’Brien

The final chapter of the Central Paper Box Company’s history came with the advent of the collapsible box. My grandfather understood that it was time to sell the business. They bought property on a mangrove swamp in Florida, against friends’ advice. They built a beautiful home there. Grandpa bought a beret and decided to be an artist. My favorite thing to do with my grandma was to look at her bead jewelry and scarves. My muses.

Stack of "Tiny Treasure Boxes" by Kathleen O'Brien

Stack of “Tiny Treasure Boxes” by Kathleen O’Brien

In the days ahead I will make ingredient maps listing natures’ treasures for each of the boxes. See it to believe it at the open studio, April 22, celebrating Earth Day. Did I mention, they make a great gift?

Inside one of the "Tiny Treasure Boxes" by

Inside one of the “Tiny Treasure Boxes” by Kathleen O’Brien

Post Script: here is the map for the “Tiny Treasure Box, Cosmic Nest Water”,

"Tiny Treasure Box, Cosmic Nest Water", map, by Kathleen O'Brien

“Tiny Treasure Box, Cosmic Nest Water”, map, by Kathleen O’Brien