In the coffin is a witch's finger. The only clue to who she was is the picture on the front, courtesy of the Graphics Fairy by the way.
This is one of those projects that's been a decade in the making. I made this finger ages ago during a Girl Scout outing. The girls earned their pottery badge at a place that uses a wood fired kiln, which was pretty cool to learn about.
While the girls were making their pottery, I spotted this discarded little log of clay. I can't take much credit for making this finger, because it was practically a finger before I even picked it up. I formed the nail bed and added the fingernail and a few knuckle lines, but that's it. I painted it with acrylics after firing.
All this time I've had this finger, waiting for inspiration to strike with a creative way to display it.
The coffin was an after Halloween clearance purchase. It wasn't very exciting, so the first step was to fancy it up. I found this video and this video by Sage Reynolds on how to line a box with padded velvet to be very useful. It's definitely worth a run through even if you do like I did and not pad the liner. Also at some point you are going to want to paint the inside of the coffin. I suggest using a color similar to your fabric to hide any tiny gaps or imperfections in the finished lining. My fabric was a clearance priced remnant.
Trace the outside of box on paper and then measure in the thickness of the sides to figure out the inside dimension. From there measure out the height of the sides to create the tabs. I used paper first, to make a template. It's easier to make adjustments on paper. Keep in mind you do have to make some allowances for the thickness of your final insert and fabric. I used a cereal box and a thin fabric. I scored the cardboard so the sides folded up easily.
Test your insert, trim as needed. You want it to fit nicely, but not too tight, you'll need room for the width of the fabric. At the corners where the sides meet you should have just enough gap to accommodate your fabric. Again mine was thin, so I trimmed just a hair's breadth.
Cut a piece of fabric the size of the insert and glue it down. I normally only use Elmers school glue for papier mache because it's too watery for much else. Here it's thin consistency was an asset. I was able to apply a very thin, even coat on the insert and the fabric laid across it perfectly smooth.
Once that's dry you can trim around the insert, make sure you leave enough fabric to fold over the edges. I used double-sided sticky tape to keep the folded edges in place.
My liner ended up fitting perfectly snug, so I didn't glue it down. Also I'm fickle and might want to try my hand at a padded liner at some later date. Repeat the above process to line the lid of the coffin.
The next step is to add some dimension to the top of lid. Below is the template I created. This is actually the fourth one I made before I was happy with it. Again working with paper first is a lot easier to fine tune your template.
The red line "B" is the outline of my coffin. It's important that it's outlined exactly the way it will sit on the top of the coffin. Until I started this process I would've sworn the coffin was symmetrical. It's not even close.
The inside line labeled "A" is 3/8 inch in from the red line.
The outside line "C" is 1/8 inch from the red line.
The little red lines "D" are drawn perpendicular to lines "B" from the corners. I've denoted the right angles in blue.
The little black lines "E" are drawn from the corners of line "A" to the points where lines "D" intersect lines "C".
Cut along lines "C" and "E".
When you cut out the final piece on cardboard also score along lines "A".
I hope this all makes sense.
Tape the corners together and try the template on for size. After I knew these were the exact measurements for the shape I wanted, I went through the whole process on a piece of cardboard instead of tracing the template for a more precise fit.
To make it a little sturdier I stacked and glued craft sticks, broken to fit down the center underneath. I put glue around the edges and used tape to keep it in place. After it dries you can papier mache over it. I chose texture past under a layer of lace, which I scored on my last thrift store excursion. I may have gone a bit overboard on the decorations, but I stand by creating a raised lid. It's a nice addition to an otherwise plain cheap coffin.
The original plan was to do raised scrolls in texture paste, somehow that ended up being random zipper swirls. I daubed a thin texture paste in between the zippers to make the plain cardboard more interesting. Then I slapped on two coats of black paint, wiping it off the zipper teeth so the metal shines through. I was going to highlight the different textures, but I thought it would look too busy. They don't show as well in the pictures, but in person the textures speak for themselves.
We have a charity thrift store in town where you pay by the pound. Basically all the stuff that doesn't sell at their main outlets goes there. All the clothes are in these huge bins that you have to shift through. I went there years ago with a friend looking for clothing with interesting zippers/buttons. One of the workers kindly pointed out that we were sifting through bins that had been picked over for awhile and pointed where the "newer" stuff was. Since we were going to destroy anything we bought, it was actually nice to know that we were sifting through the rejects of the rejects. I didn't spend much and I still haven't used all the items I salvaged. If you have anything like that in your area I'd check it out.