Monday, September 28, 2009

Hand-Crafted Wooden Boxes

Boxes have been used since ancient times to store, separate and protect things. They can store common things like corn flakes or sugar. Or they can store very precious items like jewelry and mementos and separate them from the every day items. These specially crafted storage boxes are the objects of my interest. They can be made of metal or glass; of plastic or cardboard, but it seems that the vast majority of these types of specialty crafted boxes are made from wood.

Storage boxes are somewhat of a dichotomy. They conceal, yet at the same time, they invite you to open them. When you open such a storage box it is usually to remove some special object. It can be an important moment in time. You are revealing the concealed. You are resurrecting objects and memories that have been hidden for a period of time, perhaps even a long period of time. You may be seeking a piece of jewelry to wear at a special event. You may be searching for answers to questions about the past. You may be in financial need and looking to sell something that has great value. Or, you may be simply getting out a good cigar for your enjoyment.

If the box has hidden its contents for a long period of time, opening it might produce surprise and excitement. It also may produce many other feelings. You may not remember what you put into the box. Once you open it, memories come to life. Each of the objects has its own story attached to it. Do you remember where you were when you first received that object? Do you remember who gave it to you? Do you remember the feelings at the time?

Crafted wooden storage boxes are indeed a very special part of everyone’s life.

Friday, September 25, 2009

the Hope Box - Part 1

I make band saw boxes. I call my latest project “the Hope Box”. I got inspiration from a design, by an artist by the name of Ron Lowe, which I saw in the book called “400 Wood Boxes” by Lark Books. (Check out this book if you want to get blown away by wonderful creative design in wooden boxes.)

I first made a Hope Box out of basswood as sort of a prototype. There was a lot of tricky work involved, on the drill press, the band saw and with hand rasps and carving tools. I stained the resulting box to cover a few errors, but overall, I was pretty pleased with it. See the photo on the right.

I had a nice chunk of black walnut that I bought from the local sawmill for a few bucks. I thought it would be ideal for making a “good” Hope Box or two. The photos show the walnut block with the openings rough drilled. The next step is to cut the outer profile with the band saw. I’ll keep you up to date on my progress with photos.

black walnut block (left) with basswood "prototype" (right)

block with openings drilled through

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Green Man Revisited

It has been about 5 years since I carved the Green Man. I became captivated by the whole Green Man mystery when I saw my first Green Man in Chris Pye's book "Elements of Woodcarving". Visit his website at: Chris is a great woodcarver and his books have taught me a lot about woodcarving. He has a page on his website devoted to the the Green Man with links to other sites. There are many theories on what the symbol of the Green Man means and why the symbol appears in so many medieval churches. No one knows for sure, where the symbolism comes from, or why he was so ubiquitous during that period.

Some people think it is purely a pagan symbol. Personally, I think it is simply a symbol of re-birth which may have roots in pagan beliefs, but has been absorbed and transformed to represent Christian beliefs, like Easter and Resurrection.

I am quickly approaching retirement age, and a new phase of my life. Seeing the Green Man hanging in my living room reminds me that my passage into retirement should be a re-birth into a new life of creativity and appreciation of nature.

Have you ever carved a Green Man? What do you think the Green man symbol means?