Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Inspiration Stagnation Liberation

photo of my zinnias
top of carved cigar box


I’ve heard of writer’s block, but I wonder if there is such at thing as carver’s block.

I had this beautiful discarded cigar box made of thick cedar wood.  It was just aching to be carved, but the box sat for weeks because I had no inspiration what-so-ever about what to carve on it.  I could use one of those graphic Japanese crest symbols, or Celtic designs, but this box had a certain elegance that seemed to cry out “flowers”.  I went through images of flowers on the internet, but nothing popped out.  I then decided to go through my own file of flower photographs that I had taken myself.  Bingo!  I found a nice photo of zinnias taken in my front yard. 
With some tweaking, the design seemed to fit the box well.  It had nice detail, but not too difficult to carve. I printed the photo on plain paper and then simplified the flowers by selected the elements of the design that I thought would make a good carving on the lid of the box. 
As I mentioned in a previous post, these empty wooden cigar boxes are available from my local cigar store for just $1 each, so I carve the design in the lid first, before I attempt to work on the rest of the box.  If the carving doesn’t work out, I just discard the box without wasting time on the finish or interior of the box.  Well, this carving turned out pretty good, so I went on and finished the box.  I added the black walnut corner inserts.  This was the first time I did this on any box.  I used a special jig that I built based on plans in a box making book.  I cut the thin walnut corner inserts to an 1/8 inch thickness to match the kerf slot made by my table saw blade.
interior tray
I finished the box by using the interior cedar side spacers that came with the box to construct an interior tray.  Like anything else, the more of these interior trays I make, the better they turn out. I’m pretty pleased with the resulting box.
The finished keepsake box
Now, I have to get inspired for my next carved box.  Any suggestions?


Anonymous said...

Dad - it's me Dave. Just had to comment that in all the wood working shows I have watched one of the few things i told myself I would (could) do when I get around to crafting myself is the splined mitred corners... I like how good they look for so little (I assume) effort. Wait, did I just deflate your work here, because I didn't mean to. Your interior looks great and the top has those "relieved" sides/edges... did it come that way or did you add that detail because it looks good.

John M. Casteline said...

The relieved top edges were part of the original cigar box. I didn't create them. The box had a great shape to start with. By using the sawing fixture/jig, the splinded mitered corners were a lot easier than I thought they would be. The hardest part was accurately cutting the splines.