Hocus Pocus-Altered Art Houdini Trunk

Hocus Pocus-Altered Art Houdini Trunk
Hocus Pocus-Altered Art Houdini Trunk

Abracadabra. Alakazam! Despite his magic prowess, I’m sure Houdini still had to cart his stuff around from show to show. As I was snooping around the Alpha Stamps shop last year, I saw their steamer trunk and began imagining what this trunk of Houdini’s would look like.

In my demented imagination, I decided that half of his sawed-off assistant should be present. Even The Son™, who is a horror flick aficionado, looked at me with concern. Heh.


Tutorial to make Houdini’s Magical Altered Art Trunk


Assemble the Chipboard Steamer Trunk according to directions.


Use straight edge to score evenly spaced lines along outside of box. Rub off cardboard dust bunnies–but no worries–you will make your own bunny later. Paint outside of box with layers of burnt umber, gold, teal and gray acrylic paints to give it an aged and distressed appearance.


To make the straps and handles, take the cover of an old photo folder and cut it into several 1/4 inch wide strips. Cut jags into the edges of the strips. Crumple the strips in your hand, then use a utility blade to further distress them. Rub Spiced Marmalade Distress Ink over the strips, then rub Black Soot Distress Ink over them, making sure you saturate the cracks and crevices. Wipe off the extra ink with a tissue. This will give you a handle that looks like it is made from old leather.


Thank you unknown relative of my husband


Measure and cut two strips for the top and bottom of box. Measure where you want to place the brads, punch holes through the strips with utility blade and insert brads. Remember to leave room for the trunk latches. Cut two shorter strips to serve as handles and add brads to each end.

Print, cut out and adhere the Steamer Trunk Mini Kit interior paper. Ink edges with brushed corduroy.

Now for the fun part. Muahahaha. Get out any frustrations by cutting off the legs of a doll.  Apply duct tape to head end of twos finishing nails so that doll legs will stay in place when each nail is inserted into a leg (assuming legs are hollow).


I purchased my doll at the dollar store. I’m saving the head and arms for some other macabre project.

VItal Step–(take it from someone who forgot this step). Determine which side of the trunk should be the bottom so you don’t end up with the legs on the wrong side.

Then, remove the bottom drawer of trunk. Drill two holes in bottom/side of trunk and press nails into hole. Attach with Beacon Fabri-Tac and secure with duct tape. Cut off approximately 1/2 of the drawer from the back. Glue drawer back in place.


Now it is time to insert the two hinges in the back of the trunk. I don’t want to be frank, because I like being Betsy, but in this case…I need to be honest and tell you I need to study up on how my insanely talented Alpha Stamp design team members, such as Nichola Battilana and Laura Carson, handle tiny hinge projects. Installing the hinges was a lesson in frustration for me, and I was never truly happy with the results. I think I took them out and put them back in no less than four times.

It didn’t help that I was making this project while on a cross-country road trip last year. Even though my vehicle’s craft desk was uber cool, the bumps and curves did not make it the best place to install tiny hinges. As you can see from the finished product, there’s just too big of gap.


And now, we interrupt this tutorial to show you my handy-dandy-super-nifty-travelling-craft-desk. Let me tell you, I looooove this thing!


My handy-dandy super-nifty-traveling-craft-desk is the chillest thing ever. Thank you hubby for making it!


You can see me working on the straps on my handy-dandy-super-nifty traveling-craft-desk


Duct tape was essential for my handy-dandy super-nifty-traveling-craft-desk–especially when we did a quick stop for the bear cub that crossed the road in front of us. I kept all the tiny brads and hinges in the plastic container on the left.

But I digress…

After the hinges are installed to your satisfaction. Adhere the bottom straps in place. While they dry, use a tin snips to trim the bottom half of two suitcase latches into a smaller “U” shape. Then bend the wire portion of two triangulated hangers backward so that when it is laid against the box, the flat portion will be parallel to the box. Punch larger holes in the flat part so it appears that it will fit the bottom part of the latch.

Distress all four pieces with brown, rust and copper alcohol inks. Adhere one bottom portion of the suitcase latch that you trimmed to the edge of the faux leather strip on the bottom half of the trunk.

Line up the top faux leather strips with the bottom and adhere in place. Line up the top latches (the triangulated hangers) and adhere in place.


Adhere the handles to the top half of each end of the trunk.



To create the wheels, cut off the long metal portion of  four screen door tension rollers with a vice and channel locks. Unless you are Superman/Woman, a tin snips will not work here. Cut eight pieces of cardstock to cover the center of the wheels and distress the edges with Vintage Photo Distress Ink.


Adhere wheels to bottom of trunk with Beacon Fabri-Tac Adhesive.


Cut images from Vintage Magician Posters Collage Sheet. Tear edges and distress with Vintage Photo Distress In. Adhere to trunk.

Cut gloves from silver paper. Adhere embellishments such as the star, miniature saw, key, handcuffs, dice to the interior.


Shape a rabbit out of Creative Paper Clay. Let Dry. Lightly coat rabbit with Deco-Art Snow Tex. Let dry. Paint with white acrylic paint. Let dry. Use markers to add eyes, nose and the inside of the ears.

To make the top hat. Cut one strip of black cardstock. Glue the ends together to form a circle just large enough to hold the rabbit. Cut one circle from the black cardstock that is the same diameter as the circle you made from the strip. Glue this to one end of the strip circle you made. Cut a second larger circle from the same cardstock and cut a circular hole in it that matches the diameter of the hat. Glue this to the other end of the hat.


Insert rabbit into hat.


You can see the Alpha Stamps list here, plus here’s some more stuff I used.


14 Responses »

  1. Fabulous!! You’ve covered a lot of bases here! Love the magical trunk and cute story. Legs a nice touch. And the idea of you of you with an x-acto bumping and lurching around cutting tiny pieces of trunk handles on the road, yikes…..another version of a slasher movie lol

    • Thanks Laura! I think I am getting a little addicted to cutting up dolls and reusing them. Muahahaha. Let me know if you want the details of the desk and I can email it to you. I can’t wait for another long road trip to use it again.

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