I tend to get weird obsessions. The latest? Altered mint tins. Since Altoids became so popular tins of mints have become a staple of the grocery store candy rack, and they come in all sizes and flavors; I've used a few to carry pills in my purse over the years.
Recently though I stumbled across the altered tin phenomenon. Apparently making cool things out of mint tins is all the rage among the DIY and crafty crowd. Who knew? The most popular hack is apparently the survival kit, but Instructables.com has myriad things you can do with an Altoids tin, raging from the useful to the wacky:
Tackle Box - (I am of course against fishing but I have to admit I would have loved one of these as a kid.)
What really interests me, however, are the artistic tins, especially those used as miniature shrines and altars or for other sacred purposes. With my newfound attachment to Flickr and a bit of Googling I've been able to peek into the altered (and altar-ed) tins of lots of extremely talented folks.
(Click on the pictures for more views and full information from their creators.)
1 ~ A Besamin Container, which holds spices for the Hebrew Havdalah ritual.
The cover is hand-embroidered.
2 ~ A portable smudge kit from a site that has several pretty and simple ideas for Buddhist tin shrines--including how to make a Tibetan prayer wheel from a round Altoids tin. I also like the idea of putting a set of magnetic poetry words for mantras and meditations in a tin to carry along.
4 ~ Kwan Yin shrine; this artist has a set of several on her Flickr photostream, including a fantastic shrine (also to Kwan Yin) made out of a sardine can. The only problem with that one is, it isn't as portable as one you can close; that's why I like the altars made of mint tins, as they have attached lids.
5 ~ Portable meditation kit from Instructables.com.
6 ~ Goddess Shrine - a polymer clay goddess figure inside with a mirror and the phrase, "The Goddess is inside you and She is smiling!"
7 ~ Last of all, a wee Green Tara shrine of my own creation. I had a ginger Altoids tin laying around that I couldn't stand to throw away, and all the other examples inspired me to try my hand at the craft. (You can see pics of the outside and details with notes on Flickr.) On the left are two mantras I often use in my practice, with a hand-drawn lotus flower; on the right is an image of Green Tara surrounded by amber chips, flower-shaped beads, tiny shells, and stones. Her mantra is printed in Tibetan at the bottom. The shrine holds a tealight and a small lighter.
(Note: I did not draw the Tara image; it's a color copy of a gorgeous print I bought from DeviantArt. I couldn't bear the thought of actually hacking up the print, and since I have no intention of selling the shrine I figured it would be better to use a copy. I'm sure this is non-kosher for art, but at least I didn't just gank the image off DA.)
Now, of course, I'm hooked on making these little guys. I was thinking it would be cool to make a travel spice box like the Besamin--north of Texas apparently nobody's ever heard of cumin.