Friday, June 13, 2014

USA Letter Box Ensemble Project

It may look like wooden blocks painted and decorated,
but it is really a set of paper letter "boxes" 
(each composed of base and lid) which are joined, then decorated.
The letter 'S' has punch holes that align when the lid and base are together
to accept the pole of the tall flag. Firework burst shape is attached behind the 'S',
with liberty bell decorating the 'U', mini pinwheel adorning 'A',
and a mini banner of triangle flags spanning the distance between.

All of these designs will soon be available in one downloadable cut file
through the SVG Attic store.
Many of the separate designs are available from SnapDragon Snippets portfolio
in the Silhouette America online store.

This tutorial is extensive because of all the dimensional elements. If you are looking for information about the FLAG (step 26) or the PINWHEEL (step 46) only, please scroll through the other images and descriptions to find those design steps.

1. Identify and cut the shapes for the letter boxes. 

At right is the S box shapes layout. LID 'S' shape viewed from the front appears as it would be read as text. BASE is it's mirror image. LID BOXING STRIPS are narrower than the BASE BOXING STRIPS. Base and Lid each have "upper" and "lower" boxing strips and upper end and lower end boxing pieces. Tiny cutout symbols in the tabs of strips will identify which end goes at top or bottom of their 'S' face shape. A diagram of these follows in step 16. Double symbols mean it is a BASE strip.

Also shown is the accent S front shape.

2. Here are the A box shapes for LID (right) and BASE, with accent face shape.

Only the 'S' boxing strips have the guide symbols. Other strips will be identified by logic and pre-layout to match section lengths with A face or back shapes.

REMEMBER, LID boxing strips are not as deep and are the BASE boxing strips.

3. Here are the LID (right) and BASE shapes for U box, with the outline accent face shape.

4. Here are the accent and decorative pieces used in the ensemble.

5. Add some curl to the boxing strips to help them pre-form into their finished shapes. To do this (a bit like curling ribbon), pull strip between firmly placed finger and thumb (or first knuckle and thumb) then draw the strip across while putting pressure against the finger/knuckle.

Curl the outer strip toward the backside of strip, and the inner strip toward the face side of the strip.

Lay out the strips (if necessary) so you can visualize where the boxing strips go in relation to the lid face 'U'. Behind the U shape in this image, you can see the pre-curled inner strip (top) and the outer strip (bottom).

(For most accurate pre-arrangement of strips and face shapes, the boxing strips in this shot should have the tabs upward.)

 6. Align and glue the inner top edge of the LID 'U' shape corner with the first end tab of the inner boxing strip (shortest) with the 'U' edge aligned exactly at the perforation, top edges of each even.

7. Next, align and glue the corresponding straight tab of the same boxing strip and 'U' arm inner edge corner.

8. Adjust and shape the multi-tab section of boxing strip edge then glue in place along curved section of the face 'U' shape.

9. Repeat the process of steps 5-6 for the outer boxing strip and the outer edges of the 'U' shape.

10. Repeat the process to mold, shape and glue in place the multiple tab curved strip edge along the bottom curved section of the 'U'.

11. Fold side and top edge tabs of end pieces back, then glue in place between the inner and outer boxing strips at each open end of the 'U'.

(Please ignore the unattached curve section showing in this image; it should already be glued to join.)

12. Repeat the curling, fitting, and joining of the inner, outer strips and end pieces for the 'U' base pieces to the base U face shape.

13. Fit the completed base shape into the backside of the lid shape to assemble the box.

14. Center the outline accent 'U' shape on the LID front. Assemble the liberty bell decorative piece, then audition to see where this shape should fit onto the completed 'U' shape, then apply adhesive and attach as shown.

Set completed letter aside until needed to assemble on the project base platform.


15. Add curl to the upper and lower boxing strips to match the 'S' shape edges to which they will be attached. This means that one end will curl in one direction, and the other end will curl opposite.

16. Note that the LID 'S' and the BASE 'S' shapes have similar shapes. To help identify which boxing strips attach at each edge, tiny cutout symbols are cut into tabs at boxing strip ends. At right are the positions where those marked boxing strips and ends will attach.

Base shapes have double cutout shapes.

17. Layout the boxing strips in the general shape of the S LID. 

18. Begin at the top edge of the LID 'S' to align and join to the top upper edge of the face 'S' shape. Apply glue to just a few tabs then attach these, curving the boxing around to match the shape of the 'S' edge. Continue joining a few more tabs until about half way through the bulge of the upper curve.

19. Leave the center section unglued. Instead, align the opposite boxing end to the corresponding edge of 'S', and join a few tabs at the 'S' edge. Continue joining until a few past the inner curve.

20. Apply glue to some or all of the remaining middle section tabs, then flex and shape the boxing strip to align and attach to the 'S' edge.

21. Turn the assembly to work from the inside to press and make sure the tabs as secure and evenly attached.

22. Repeat the process for the LOWER boxing strip, joining labeled ends of boxing strip at ends, then fitting and attaching the middle section.

23. Fold end piece tabs back, then apply adhesive and slide into place at the end openings between upper and lower boxing strips. Align fold corners to straight edges, then press and hold until glue is secure.
24. Repeat the process for the BASE, preparing and joining upper and lower boxing strips and ends to base 'S' shape.

25. Insert BASE shape into bottom of the LID shape.


26. Fold the pole shape on all the perforations.

27. Apply glue to the long tab, form pole into a tube with tab under the long straight edge and join. Insert a pencil into tube to provide a surface to press seam against. Slide pencil up and down until entire length of pole is joined.

28. Fold cap tabs downward, then fold cap into place and glue the tabs over the pole end.

29. Fold the reinforcement shape in accordion folds into roughly "T" shape. Glue the narrow portion where the two surfaces come together.

30. Insert the reinforcement strip into the bottom end of pole. NOTE that the tall portion of the reinforcement fits across the widest dimension of the pole's hexagon shape.

31. Assemble the flag with white base rectangle behind stripes shape, white small rectangle behind star shape, then join the two components.

32. Fold the end tab in accordion folds as shown.

33. Wrap the tab around two sections of the pole, approx. 1/4" below cap end, and glue in place.

This image shows how the attached flag looks from the front.

34. Insert the pole through the 'S' box holes, working through the series of paired openings until pole extends all the way to the bottom of the letter box.

35. Join the letter box lid and base by applying adhesive between the boxing layers. Here hot glue is introduced between the box edges by using a spatula tool to open up the space between slightly so hot glue can be piped in.

Here is the completed flag and 'S' box.

36. Position and attach the fireworks bursts shape behind the 'S' letter box, and the accent echo 'S' shape to the face of the box.


37. Position the 'A' LID shape with the corresponding boxing shapes around it. Fold the boxing strips at perforations to match the shaping of the 'A' edges.

38. Fold the middle boxing shape into a triangle, and join end tab under opposite end.

39. Position the triangle boxing behind the opening, align perforation edge of opening with LID shape edges, adjust, then hold in place until secure.

40. Align and join the first edge of boxing to LID 'A' shape.

Continue folding edges into place and joining until all edges of the first strip is completely attached.

41. Join second boxing strip end to first strip, with tab under corresponding straight edge.

42. At the top of the 'A' front, join in one step the final tab and the boxing strips end tab and straight edge.

43. Complete the assembly process for the 'A' BASE,

44. Slide BASE into back of LID. Glue together by applying glue between the side layers.

45. Attach the front accent shape in place.
46. Identify and cut the shapes for the mini pinwheel. Shown here are the shapes for the larger version, but the assembly is very similar for either. (Mini pinwheel does NOT have star cutouts, but simple star shapes to glue in place.

A NOTE ABOUT CUTTING:  Cut the pinwheel body using shape as provided in original cut file, and with the paper face up on cutting mat. Face side will be the back of the pinwheel body, with that surface brought to front as curling pinwheel arms.

45. Add some curl to each of the pinwheel arms or points.

46. Turn the body over. Attach the center shape as shown, with the point edge aligned as continuation of the arm point cut edge.

Also attach the hollow stars around the star cutouts (large version), or attach plain stars near points (mini version).

47. Bring each arm, one by one, to center, aligning holes with center hole and glue in place.

48. Assemble the medallion by gluing centers of scallop circle, plain circle, star. Insert decorative brad through hole.

49. Insert brad prongs through center hole, then bend back to secure in place.

50. For the mini pinwheel as part of the USA Ensemble, attach one or two small dimensional foam squares behind at center....

..... then position and attach to the A box.

51. To complete the project as shown, prepare a strip of foam core 12x2 inches as a base. Cover the foam core with a coordinated piece of print paper, or equivalent, as desired. Here, the selected paper is not long enough, so it is seamed with an abutted joint. Glue the paper to the top of the foam core base.

52. Score the paper along the edge of foam core base, working from the backside of the paper, as shown.

53. Fold paper at the score. Apply adhesive to the narrow depth front edge of the base, then wrap the paper and smooth the surface along the edge.

Score paper again along this second base edge. Fold at score, apply glue, wrap as before, and smooth glued surfaces. Trim excess paper. Repeat as needed for the un-covered portion of board.

54. Use quick dry adhesive such as 
Fabri-Tac or hot glue to attach the letter box bases of the 'U' and the 'A' at base ends. Center 'S' between remaining space, then glue in place, taking care that the flag pole's final position is perpendicular to the base.

55. Position and attach flags banner, with ends on 'U' and 'A' as shown in following image.

And here is the final project on its base.

Hope you have enjoyed assembling your own letter box project.
Watch for more projects in the future.
Leave a comment if you have a suggestion for a letter box ensemble project.
(We enjoy receiving your suggestions!)

1 comment:

  1. I absolutely love this set and can't wait for it to be available at SVG Attic! Thank you for creating such beautiful designs!