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Cosmeceutical Collection

cosmeceutical collection.jpg

This collection was designed in 2006, and the first copies produced that year. It is in the Alan Chasanoff collection, and in Special Collections at the Topeka County Public Library, Emory University, Scripps College, University of Washington, University of Miami and University of Denver. The archives are also held at University of Denver.  It was reviewed as part of Emory University’s Artists Book Showcase; read that review here.

Rather than completing the production all at once, I produced copies in response to orders, and this is one instance where procrastination was of tremendous value. Knowing more now than I did when the boxed set was designed and having access to different tools has benefitted the production process and end quality of the piece.

The set combines three of my miniature books (Belladonna, Compact Beauty and Lashlure), books that use cosmetic cases as containers, in a custom made box.

Production of the miniatures may be the focus of another blog entry – here I am concentrating on the box itself. Here is what the individual books look like:

belladonna 2

lash lure open

compact beauty

The box tray has 3 recessed areas, each of different size, shape and depth, for each of the miniature books.



I considered using wood and having the recessions routed out, and also considered laminating individually cut pieces of thinner material, such as Davy board to make the base. I eventually settled on a product called Balsa Foam.

WIP Cosmeceutical Collection

Starting with sheets of 9x12x1 inch Balsa Foam, I cut them each in half using 2 partial cuts with a power miter saw.


WIP Cosmeceutical Collection

I then used a drawing template to mark the surface for the interior cut outs.







These were then cut out with a power scroll saw, after first drilling holes in the cut out areas for insertion of saw blade. Balsa Foam is a handy product but I don’t plan to use it again. The dust generated by manipulating it is no doubt toxic and, even though I used the denser of the two grades it is subject to cracking and breaking.

Each recessed area requires a different depth so platforms for Belladonna and Lashlure are cut from museum board and inserted them into the appropriate area, holding them to the correct height by shimmng them from underneath with built up pieces of foam core. Compact Beauty does not require a platform.


After the tray is shaped, it is sealed on all sides with acrylic polymer. This helps contain the dust and lessens the absorption rate. Pared down leather is used to line each recess sides and bottom. The top surface gets a second coat of thicker polymer (a gel medium) that shows texture, then is painted with two layered colors of acrylic paint. The top layer is an ‘interference’ pigment so has a subtle sparkle to it, similar to that of many cosmetic products.


Pink leather (from Harmatan) is laminated to 2 play museum board, then trimmed to strips the length of the box sides by the tray height plus 1/8 inch. After the edges are painted with liquid acrylic ink, they are attached to the tray box sides.

There isn’t anything out of the ordinary in the production of the box’s outer shell. Prior to gluing the tray into the shell, a ribbon is run across the underside of the case between the recesses for Belladonna and Compact Beauty – the ribbon comes up into the tray and makes removing the books from the recesses much easier. Lashlure doesn’t require a ribbon.


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The case has a pink leather spine, the paper coverings are Mohawk Superfine Text laserprinted and then overpainted with a mixture of acrylic (pink again!) and methylcellulose. This is a necessary step to seal the transfer toner, which otherwise will flake off. Prior to this step, laser foil is affixed to the title portion of the text on the container lid.