Repurposed Clementine Crate

Reader Contribution by Courtney Denning

This is one of my favorite DIY crafts. I’ve been decorating Clementine crates since I was a student in college. They make great little storage containers and organizers! The process is very involved (lots of layers of paint plus drying time) but it’s worth it. I’ve made six so far: two hold tea, two hold spices, one holds paperwork and the last one was turned into a little decorative wall shelf.

The clementine crate DIY combines two of my favorite crafts: painting and collaging (also called decoupage). It’s also very cheap DIY: I have never needed to purchase supplies for just this project (other than the crate of clementines). When buying your clementines, try to pick out the best crate available – they’re not all created equal!

To make your own repurposed clementine crate you will need:

• 1 wooden clementine crate
• Acrylic paint
• Collage materials (magazine clippings, wrapping paper, junk mail, stationery, tissue paper)
• Sharpie marker(s)
• Cotton swabs
• Mod Podge sealer
• Brushes
• Scissors
• Sandpaper (optional)
• Pliers (optional)

Gather your materials, let’s DIY!

First, inspect your crate. Make sure there are no sharp edges or staples that could poke you. If there are, sand or remove with pliers.

Decide how you want to decorate your crate. What colors will you use? What items will be collaged on it? How you intend to use your crate can give you design ideas. My tea and spice crates are collaged with images of tea, spices and chocolate from food magazines. The crate that I use as a small shelf has a large collage on the inside of the crate that wouldn’t be visible if I used it to store anything. Purpose and design go hand-in-hand.

First, paint your base layer on the crate. You may need several coats, depending on the color and how thickly you paint (thin layers dry faster than thick). Once your base color is complete, you can begin collaging. Like with all of my craft projects, I like to lay out and plan my design before busting out the glue. With some papers, especially thin and delicate ones like tissue paper or newsprint, once they have been glued down they’re not moving!

To make it easier to dry, I only work on one or two sides at a time. If you start gluing on three or more sides at once, it becomes more difficult to find a dry side to rest the crate in order for it to dry.

When you’re satisfied with your collaging efforts, you can make some embellishments with a sharpie marker or additional paint. For my tea crates I wrote several quotes about tea and chocolate and added bright dots of paint with cotton swabs. For my spices crates, I added splashes of silver paint over a red crate and white over a black crate (always be sure to protect your work surface when working with paint).

Once your final additions are dry, seal the whole crate with Mod Podge. I recommend at least two coats.

This is a time-consuming DIY project, but I’ve always been pleased with the results and enjoyed the process. Use your crate to corral your mail and house keys, library books or CDs — whatever needs to be organized in a stylish but cheap manner!

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page.