For me as an artist, the story behind a piece is almost as important as the piece itself. This is the story of how this sycamore box came into being…
The sycamore used to create this box came from my favorite mill, Elmwood Reclaimed Timber, a small, family-owned mill in Smithville, Missouri. Sycamore is a particularly striking wood, especially when it is quarter sawn. This method of cutting the wood perpendicular to the growth rings is what reveals the beautiful, shimmery ‘leopard spots’ for us to appreciate. I really enjoy working with this gorgeous, uncommon wood.
All the wood used in the box came from a single plank — the sides, the bottom panel and the lid. The box body was constructed using traditional mortise and tenon joinery. Each side of the box was cut sequentially from the plank so that the grain flows harmoniously around the corners. I made the bottom out of solid sycamore, rather than plywood used for most boxes. To make the bottom, I sliced a thick piece of sycamore into two thinner pieces, ‘book matched’ them, joined them and cut the panel to its final size. I selected this particular part of the plank for the lid because I liked the contrasting colors in the wood. I sliced the lid into three sections and re-joined them using glass dowels. Glass dowel was also used for the pivot hinges and the handle. To embellish the box, I created grooves in the sides and lid and painted them using milk paint custom blended for this project. The final shaping of the box body and lid was done by hand. I prefer to do the final contouring, rounding over of sharp edges, etc., by hand. This is when I can get up close and personal with the wood and see its beautiful grain emerge as I sand with finer and finer grit sandpapers. I also like the slight variations that tell you this item is crafted by hand rather than made impersonally, at a distance, with power tools. Finally, I finished the box by saturating it with three coats of ‘Tried and True’ wood finish and hand rubbed it to a soft luster.
This box is one in my series of exploring negative space and color. I want the separation of the lid pieces and the color between the sections to invite you to explore the box and question whether it has any other surprises. And, of course once you start filling it with your treasures it will be full of surprises!