Faux Birch Bark Box with Moss Covered Lid "Tutorial"

Hi, and thanks for checking out my tutorial. This project is a lot of fun and can be completed within about 48 hours (due to paint drying time). This is my first tutorial and I am so excited to share it with you. I've attempted to include all of the necessary instructions and tips to help you create your own Faux Birch Box Terrarium. As always please don't hesitate to contact me with any questions.
The idea for making this box stemmed from the crochet coasters I made. I had completed making 6 matching crochet coasters and wanted a really special box to keep them in. A box that would make a great conversation piece when guests were visiting. I enjoy working with paint because it is a relaxing, peaceful activity. So I came up with this Faux Birch Bark painting technique, then added the moss to the lid, and finally fashioned the little gnome, mushrooms, and rocks out of polymer clay. You can find the pattern for the crochet coasters Here.

Materials needed:
* A 4" round paper mache box.
* White craft glue. (not shown)
* Acrylic craft paint in 4 colors:
  1. Dark chocolate brown,
  2. Dark forest green,
  3. White,
  4. A color of your choice for the inside of the box.
* A few paint brushes, approximately 1/2".
* A package of sheet moss found at your local craft store.
* A few paper bowls or plates, to use for paint and glue.
* Some pretty ribbon.
* A fabric flower or any items you would like to decorate the top of your box.
* A little bit of water standing by is useful to help thin the glue if needed.

Now lets get started!  :)

First step: Apply the paint.
With a 1/2" paint brush and the dark chocolate brown paint, apply a generous coat to the box (not the lid), but not so much that it drips. Brush on the paint in the direction shown in the picture. The brush strokes should be parallel with the top and bottom of the box. The grooves and lines in the paint from the brush strokes help in creating texture which will help create the birch bark look in the end result. One coat is enough. Paint the bottom as well and let the box dry overnight.

Second Step: Apply glue.
Once the paint is completely dry you are ready for the next step, applying the white craft glue. If your glue is too thick to work with comfortably you can add a little water to loosen it up, but not too much. 
Apply a generous amount of glue with your 1/2" paint brush, but not so much that it drips. Apply the brush strokes in the same direction as before. (Horizontally)
If you find your glue is dripping, then either the glue is too thin or there was too much glue applied. Simply catch the drips with your paint brush with a horizontal stroke. The more lines and grooves in the glue, the better.

Note: When you apply the glue to the bottom of the box, work the brush strokes in a circle following the natural roundness of the boxes shape.                                                  Let the glue dry only until it is just tacky. It will still be a little white in some spaces. This takes about 20-45 minutes depending on the temperature of the environment. For example, if the weather is warm like in the summer, then it will only take about 20 minutes to become tacky.

Step Three: Apply the outer coat of paint.
Now, it is time to paint the last layer in this "Faux Birch Bark" process. Apply a liberal coat of white acrylic paint in the same manner as the previous layers. Use horizontal strokes for the sides of the box and work in circles for the bottom of the box. Make sure there are no drips. Let the box dry completely, over night. You will start to see the cracks beginning to form soon after you've finished painting this last coat. The cracks will widen as the paint  dries. The cracks form because the paint dries quickly and the glue shrinks as it dries. Pretty cool!

This picture shows the thin cracks forming only 10 minutes after painting.

This picture shows the cracks looking wider and darker, as they begin to reveal the dark chocolate brown paint underneath. This was approximately 25 minutes after painting.
Fourth Step: Paint the lid and inside of the box.
Once the outside has dried overnight, you are ready to paint the inside of the box and the outside of the lid.  For the interior of the boxes and lids I used a pastel minty color. You can choose any color you like.

I used a dark forest green color for the outside of the lid, since they will be covered in moss. So, if any part of the box happens to peak through, the moss it will blend in. Let these dry a couple of hours.                                                                         

Fifth Step: Glue the moss to the lid.
Now it's time to glue the moss to the lid. The moss is messy to work with but very easy to use. You are going to make a moss circle which will then be glued and wrapped onto the lid. 
Place the lid on the moss. Eyeball about a one inch circumference allowance of moss so you have one piece of moss large enough to cover the top and sides. You can use scissors to cut your moss circle or simply pull the moss apart with your fingers to separate the scraps.
My first attempt gluing the moss to the lid worked well with white craft glue, however, I recommend using a hot glue gun because it is much faster and user friendly when you get to covering the sides of the lid.

Here I used my hot glue gun to attach the moss to the sides of the lid. It worked much nicer than white craft glue would have, mainly due to drying time.

Just work gradually all the way around the lid applying the glue, then bending the moss up  onto the side of the lid. The glue didn't burn my fingers because the moss is so thick.

At this point you may choose to trim your moss or leave it shaggy. Both looks are nice. I simply used scissors and carefully trimmed the moss around the lid. You can see the differences in the pics below.

Final step: Decorate the top of your box!

by Kara Mayfield Copyright 2011 


  1. oh, what a cute box. You have a lovely blog.

  2. Very cute! I have been looking for a tutorial on making faux birch since we don't have any birch trees near our house. I want to make some candleholders! What kind of white craft glue did you use?

    1. I'm so sorry it has taken me this long to get back to you on your question. The glue I used is called Aleene's original tacky glue, but any white craft glue will work. Thank you for your comment and question.

  3. I had no idea that the crackle effect could be achieved without purchasing crackle medium at the craft store! I like your way much better since I already have paint and white craft glue at home. Nice tutorial and that's a really cute little box!


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