ModCloth Knock Off: Chef of Staff Recipe Box

13 Aug

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I’m fairly new to ModCloth, but I can pretty much always find something on there that I want desperately.  If you’re a first time visitor – you might get little scared by some of the more costumey retro clothing. There is some seriously authentic ’50s and ’60s apparel on there that initially made me a bit wary. But when you look around a little bit, there is a TON of modern clothing and home decor that has just a bit of a retro twist. Like this little recipe box. The top has a neat little 1950s diner logo, and the card dividers are photos of vintage diner signs and menus. So cute. The only problem? It’s $40 for the box. Unless you’re going to personally transfer all of my scattered recipes to the recipe cards, I think I can handle this for WAY less.


The box was easy to find. A simple pine recipe box cost me $3 at Michaels. It’s the perfect size, and the only difference is that the lid is hinged.

For the dividers, I used Google Images and Flickr to find pictures of vintage diner signs, which I then used a photo editor to create labeled, tabbed, dividers. You can download them here: 4″ x 6″ and 3″ x 5″.  I’m going to use simple index cards for the recipes.


So, here are my supplies. I went through tons of options for creating the dividers and putting the little “Hi! Lets Eat” on the top of the box.

For the top of the box, I could either draw on the logo myself (likely with a stencil) or apply the logo as is. I tested a few markers on the bottom of the box, and they all bled pretty badly. Because of that, there was likely no way I was going to get a crisp line on the lettering.

I decided to use a method I’ve used before to transfer images to furniture and other wood pieces in the past. I found this simple tutorial awhile ago, and it works really well. Essentially, you print the image you want to transfer (in reverse) on an inkjet printer, coat the image with gel matte medium, adhere it to the surface, let it dry, get it wet, and rub off the paper. But, let me break it down a bit.


First, I printed a few versions of the logo in different sizes and then cut out the one that looked about the right size. (The logos are included in the divider files above.)


Next, you apply a thin coat of matte medium to the inked side of the image. You can find this in any arts and craft store. It costs around $5, but will last forever, I’ve used this on about ten projects and it’s only about half empty.. (By the way use a coupon if you’re at Michael’s or Joann’s – they have smart phone apps that will save you a ridiculous amount of money.)


Anyway – apply an even thin coat.


Apply the image, ink side down, in the center of the top of the box. Use a flat edge (I used a gift card) to squeeze out any excess matte medium. Let it dry for 8 hours.


Once it’s dried, you’ll need a wet (but not dripping) towel.


Let the wet towel sit on the paper for a few minutes until the paper is soaked.


If there are dry spots, dab it with the towel a bit more until it’s completely wet.


Next, you start removing the paper with your finger. I just make small circular motions and the paper will start peeling off.


Take your time, if it’s giving you trouble, get it wet again. Eventually you’ll get all the paper off and what will be left behind is the ink.


Now, this method does occasionally produce a bit of a distressed look. Of course, this was one of those times. While I wasn’t comfortable doing the whole logo in marker, it was going to be fine for some touch ups.


A few touch ups with a brown sharpie, and it’s all better. I waited until it all dried and finished it with a coat of clear matte sealer.


Now, for the dividers – I was racking my brain trying to figure out how to make these. If I had a printer (I don’t, I “borrow” the awesome color one at work occasionally), I’m fairly certain you could print these images to a thicker cardstock and just cut them out.

I thought about using index card tabbed dividers, but those were RIDICULOUSLY priced – like $6 for 20. So, I decided to use what I had.


I printed out the dividers, glued them to a spare manila folder, and then cut out the divider with the manila backing.


I used a glue stick and attached the nine dividers to the folder. I let them dry and then cut them out.


I think they turned out pretty good. They’re thick enough to stay upright and divide all the recipe cards I’ll be making in the upcoming weeks. That is definitely going to be a long term project. I had no idea the number of recipes I had scattered about on scratch pads, Pinterest, cook books, drawers, and stuck to the front of the refrigerator. Phew.

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I LOVE how this turned out. It’s more special than a boring old cookbook, and the box is going to look so cute in my kitchen. On a non-aesthetic note, I’m hoping this finally gets me to organize all those gosh darn recipes.

ModCloth: Chef of Staff Recipe Box


– Recipe box ($3)

– printed dividers and logo

– matte medium (on hand, under $5 at stores)

– clear sealer (on hand, under $4 at stores)

– manila envelope (on hand)

– index cards (on hand, $1 at stores)


ModCloth cost: $39.99

Total cost for me? $3




2 Responses to “ModCloth Knock Off: Chef of Staff Recipe Box”

  1. August 14, 2013 at 9:31 am #

    I love that your recreations are so spot on! You’re inspiring me to do craftiness also.

    • knockoffcrafter August 14, 2013 at 9:15 pm #

      Thank you! I’m glad to see the craftiness is contagious.

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