These came pre-painted with a nice shade of green. I then stenciled the boxes with some black paint.
I wanted these boxes to have a nice 'aged look'. For this effect, I sanded the paint off all the sharp edges with sandpaper and my electric nail file (a dremel wood work as well), sanding in an uneven fashion. My husband made me a 'wood distressing tool'. It looks kind of medieval, but does a really great job. It's basically a 12" piece of chain with nuts, bolts, washers and other assorted metal items that are bolted through 5 or 6 links at one end of the chain. I simply swing the chain and hit the wood with the metal pieces. It's a great stress reliever too!
My painting technique was using a rag, I wiped black paint over the entire painted surface and really rubbed it into the 'nooks and crannies'. Then, I wiped off the black paint (the beat up areas retained the black paint) and let it dry for an hour. To finish it off, I applied a coat of polyurethane.
This is the completed set of boxes from the front. They are not as shiny as they look in the picture. I used a 'satin finish' poly and they have more of an aged patina feel to them.
This is the boxes from the back.
This is a closeup of one of the stencils. When I wiped the black paint on, it also wiped off some of the stencil - but I liked the effect and so I kept it that way. All in all, I am pleased with my 'antique bentwood boxes' and will enjoy using them, but I will continue my search for some true 'antique shaker boxes'.