Make Your Own Curiosities Box

I saw an idea of something like this for sale for a couple hundred dollars for the box alone (which was very pretty) and then you buy various curiosities to put in the drawers and keep a magnifying glass nearby, and leave some drawers empty for the kids to fill with their own discovered treasures.
The World Discovery Box includes specimens- you can get a small one (7 drawers) for 151 dollars; a large one (14 drawers, plus 50 specimens) for 247 dollars.

I was thinking this would be a fun project to create over a year- for grandchildren or your kids at home- give them the box and a magnifying glass at the beginning of the project, and every month send something new for it.  You could save money this way, or you could not save a dime, depending on how you fill it. The fun would be making it individual, and the monthly new thing.

I bought a box something like the expensive curiosity box on sale at a thrift shop a while ago, it’s still at home, and this is what I intended to use it for.  My box was designed to hold photos.  I’ve seen similar items billed as desk top organizers, trinket boxes, curio boxes, apothecary boxes, and so on.  They come in various sizes and some of the drawers are pretty small, so you’l want to keep the dimensions in mind when collecting items to put in the drawers.

So you could start with a container:

Small wooden organizer, five drawers, 15.00, for small items.

A four cube storage/organizer with fabric bins, each bin around 5X5 inches

Wooden apothecary desktop cabinet with drawers for forty dollars

This pretty little turquoise wooden box with four drawers is only around 25 dollars, each drawer is just 3.5 by 3.5 inches (five inches deep)

Or, if you want to be able to see all the contents at once, use a wooden tea box. This one has 10 compartments and a clear lid.  It’s only 17 dollars, so I’d have wood glue, clamps, and so forth ready at hand to put it back together when you open it the first time.

Three drawer wood caddy with chalkboard front, around 13.00,  for very small items:the whole thing is 11 3/8 Inch (L) x 3 7/8 Inch (H) x 3 7/8 Inch (W)

5 drawers, very tiny, wood, you can get it finished or unfinished to design yourself.  15.00

Similar, finished, very understated. I like it.

Rustic brown desktop organizer: Overall – 14.25 W X 8.25 H X 5.5 D; Small Top Drawers (each) – 4.25 W X 4 H X 5.25 D; Large Bottom Drawer – 13.25 W X 2.75 H X 5.25 D., 36 dollars

Another small wooden cabinet of drawers, requires assembly, around 17 dollars.

  • This chipboard unit measures 11 by 11 by 3-5/8-inch with nine 3-3/8 by 3-9/16 by 3-1/2-inch drawers and nine pewter finished hardware

If I had as much money as I could spend, or maybe a little more, I’d look at this one for 80 dollars. I Love the colorful ceramic drawers.


Or just go with plastic.   4 dollars.


Now you need some things to put in it.  In addition to interesting local stones, shells, fossils, seeds, pods, bones, etc that you might find (check out your car bumper and windshield for moths and butterflies), these things look interesting and fun to me:

Tiny seahorse with a seashell or two encased in teardrop shaped lucite for $9.00

It’s attached to a leather cord as it’s meant to be a necklace.  I’d remove the cord and save it for some other craft.  It will fit in the smallest of the drawers above: Teardrop Size Approx 1.3″ x 1.0″ x .5″

Shark tooth in lucite keychain, 5.00

Life cycle of a frog! Real specimen in lucite, egg to tadpole to pollywog to frog. Only 4.25 inches long.  Very pricey, however- 25 dollars

Four insects in four separate blocks of resin, making them easy to examine.  12 or 13 dollars for the set, and you get four, so you could add one to a drawer every month.

Ten insects (that’s what it says, includes scorpion) for nearly 30 dollars.

A dozen very thin geode or agate slices for 12 dollars (extremely fragile)

Snowflake Obsidian polished gemstone, about an inch, around 5.00 with shipping. You can get others as well, desert jasper, rose quartz and so on.

Little set of about a dozen pieces of different natural gemstones with information about each one, nearly 7.00

Rhinoceros beetle in resin, around 5.00

Orange tip butterfly, preserved in resin (the body is, I think, a sticker)- meant for a necklace. I’d just put the butterfly part in the drawer and use the chain for something else if the chain can be removed intact. $4.00

Various butterfly in resin paperweights, 15.00

For 30 dollars, a bag ofRock, Mineral & Fossil Collection Activity Kit with Educational ID Sheet plus Ammonite, Shark’s Tooth in Matrix, Fossilized Poo, 2 Geodes & Arrowheads,(Over 125 pcs and NO GRAVEL) Dancing Bear Brand

50 tiny fossil gastropods, 23 dollars

3 inch chambered nautilus shell, split in half to view chambers. 20 dollars

Polished sand-dollar fossil– 10-17 dollars.

Fish fossil

Trilobyte fossil, 10 dollars

Miniature shark jaw and teeth with identifier/story card, about five dollars (very small)

Alligator head (real) 5-6 inches long, ten dollars.

Real bobcat claw, around 7 dollars including shipping

Badger claw, same as above

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  1. Amy
    Posted June 7, 2017 at 7:25 am | Permalink

    This is fantastic! Thanks! I wanted to do something similar but with a shadow box type frame with compartments that hangs on the wall. I saw a good one on Pinterest but then couldn’t find one to buy. I have a beautiful tea box in storage just waiting for the perfect way to use it, and now I have it.

  2. Cindy Dyer
    Posted June 7, 2017 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    Very cool. My mommy cred is gluing to go way up when I do this!

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