Box 27 – 52 Boxes in 52 Weeks
By Matt Kenney
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I both love and hate this box. I turned the bottom quite some time ago, and it was inspired by some Japanese tea cups that I’ve seen. I love its shape. But then it needed a top. I like the top. I also like the pull. But with the pull and top put on the bottom, you get a freaking apple. And I don’t like that at all. Of course, everyone who has seen it, held it, and opened it has loved it. Evidently, it would make a great sugar container for some tea drinkers I know.
This is a case where I have to trust what those folks say. My dislike for the box comes from the fact that I had set out to make a box that gives a strong nod to some understated but undoubtedly gorgeous Japanese tea pottery I’ve seen. I ended up with a somewhat kitschy apple box. Perhaps I’ll take a few more shots at the lid. I have several other ideas about how to make it, all of which would take the apple stink off the box.
Enough complaining. There is still a lot to like about this box. First, is the lovely shape of the bottom. It fits my hands perfectly. Had I been a potter, this would be a wonderful tea cup. (Handles, as I understand it, are a bad thing on tea cups. If you can’t hold it by wrapping your hands around a full tea cup, then the tea is too hot to drink. I don’t tea—or coffee—but this is what I’ve been told.) The milk paint finish also is lovely. It’s a homemade green that I made by mixing marigold yellow and Federal blue. The “texture” in the finish comes from the brush strokes. There’s a particular way to brush on the paint that leaves marks like this. The finish, I think, looks very much like a pottery glazing, which is the look I was after. The lid is straight Lexington green. To emphasize the difference between the two, I finished the lid with shellac and wax where the body has only wax. Shellac darkens milk paint much more than wax alone. It complements the homebrew green quite well.
The curve of the lid is meant to pick up on the curve of the body, and the top of the pull is meant to bring the curve to a close. The three aren’t exactly matched, but that’s OK. The connection is suggested, and a suggestion is often better than an explicit statement. By the way, the pull is turned from the wortled heartwood of a quizzical pear tree. Lovely stuff with great color.
I left the top rim of the bottom and its interior unfinished. I turned the bottom from hard maple. The stark creamy white is a nice surprise when you open the box. The pale rim is a nice way to separate the lid from the body. Eventually, it will darken to the lovely honey gold that maple becomes, and that will be a nice touch, too.
A few random thoughts:
One. When I turned the pull, I knew that the shape and color would complete the apple. By that point, I knew it was inevitable, so I just went with it.
Two. This is by far the most painted box I’ve done so far. But the next box will swing the pendulum back in the other direction.
Three. I should carve a small sugar spoon to go along with this box. That would be cool. But I also see this box being used by a young hobbit (a descendent of old Bullroarer, no doubt) to carry second breakfast when she’s out adventuring through the wilds of the North Farthing. It could easily hold a delicious sausage biscuit or two.