Thinking Outside The Treasure Box

Linda Dela Cruz
Wednesday - March 04, 2009
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Sara Perry with her unique Treasure Boxes

Sara Perry says she’d glue something on anything that didn’t run away.

Her Treasure Boxes is a line of hand-decorated boxes and purses featuring vintage images.

Perry says jokingly that she was born 50 years too late as she loves to create Hawaiian-themed boxes with retro surf pictures, hula dancers, pinup girls, and black-and-white photos from the 1920s.

She takes an unfinished wood box, paints it and puts a lining on the inside. After 15-20 coats of glue and paper, she adds the beads and doodads. The whole process takes about two weeks to create one box, as the glue needs to dry before she can continue on the next side of the box.

“I don’t do the same box twice, even if I use the same picture twice,” notes Perry. “The paper dries differently, and it takes on different colors when it’s finished. I put a glaze on it to make it shiny, and a clear acrylic coat to make it waterproof. It looks different than what I did on the previous box. The style continually changes.”

Perry also welcomes special orders. For example, a woman asked her to make a box for her husband, who then worked for Pan Am.


“I had fun digging up old posters and making the box,” Perry recalls. “He cried when I gave it to him. He loved, loved, loved this box.”

Other special orders include utilizing old family photos, pet pictures or a dream destination.

The boxes can be traced to the days when, as a child, she used to pick up shiny, sparkly stuff and bring it home.

“I always needed somewhere to put all my junk,” reminisces Perry. “I always had a box. I figured other people would need a place to put their stuff in too. It’s artwork that is very functional and pretty.”

She credits her friends and family for their support in her artistic endeavor, especially her husband Matthew.

Her work can be found at craft fairs, including the upcoming Waikiki Artfest at Kapiolani Park March 14 and 15 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Her mom, Nancy Calhoun, who also decorates boxes, is one of the founders of the Handcrafters and Artisans Alliance, which coordinates the aforementioned monthly art fest. The Treasure Boxes also will be available in April at the Merrie Monarch Festival’s craft fair, and

on Mother’s Day at the Lanikai Craft Faire.

Perry’s knack for crafts started as a child, when her mom had a dress shop.

“If I wanted money for something, it was going to come in at Christmas or my birthday, or I had to figure out some way to make money,” Perry, a Waianae resident, explains. “I was always making jewelry or something I could sell to get an extra $5. I always did something crafty to make money.”

Over the years her craft experience has included ceramics, scrapbooking, wire-wrapped pendants and painting on canvas.

Perry admits one of her challenges is to come up with something different or a new color combination. To overcome that, she finds inspiration everywhere, including museums in Italy, where she lived for two years.

She says one of her goals is to display her work in an established gallery.

For more information, call 696-6717 or log onto


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