Enjoying the 52 Boxes in 52 Weeks series?
Purchase the 52 Boxes in 52 Weeks book on the MEK WOODWORKS website.
When I first set out on this adventure in box making, I explicitly had it in mind that there would be some boxes that I would make more than once, so that I could explore the design and hopefully improve it with each iteration. Box 40 is one of these boxes. It’s the same as boxes 1, 2, 7 and 8. There are a few subtle differences, of course. First, box 40 is made from apple. It’s one of my favorite woods, and I had a small piece that was just big enough for the sides and bottom of this box.
The lid is painted with milk paint, like those other boxes, but it’s a different color. This green is my favorite color of milk paint, and it looks great with apple. Third, the interior is finished with a bit of fabric glued to the bottom. Finally, (and this is the true reason I took a fifth stab at this box) I used a new style of pull for this box. It’s the same pull I used on the biggest lids on box 35. When I made it for that box, I thought it might look good on other boxes that I’ve made, so I made a box to test out that theory.
I think this new pull is a big improvement, bringing the box to a higher level of refinement and one step closer to being a fully resolved design. The previous pull for this box was just a stick. Honestly, it was a stick because I didn’t know what else to do. It wasn’t until box 35 that I begin to think differently about the pull. That’s all creativity really is. It’s simply a matter of answering the question, “What can I do differently?” I learned that lesson from Hank Gilpin. He’s brilliantly creative, and prior to meeting him, I thought creativity was an innate talent. In truth (or at least this is how I understand it now) it’s a skill that you can develop. and it’s developed one step at a time. But you can’t develop this skill if you don’t use it. So don’t be afraid. I’m not “artistic,” I’m just not afraid to try something and screw up. I’m not afraid to take a step and fall. Failure is wonderful because it gives you a chance to try again, to work harder, to learn, and to become better. (This is also why you should appreciate those folks brave–or rude–enough to tell you when you’ve mucked it up.) So, the next time you sketch something out, pick one detail and sketch out 20 different takes on it. Repeat this practice again and again. Or just sit and draw as many different pulls as you can, each one slightly different than the next. There will be a lot of failures, but there will also be a success. By the way, don’t worry if you think you can’t draw. You can. Sketch fast and don’t think. The more you do it, the more it will look like what you see in your mind. Oh my stars, how did this become a pep talk?
Now back to our regularly scheduled programming: Actually, this box might now be fully resolved, but I could always try out some other pull shapes and interior treatments. In fact, the pull might be slightly better if it were a stressed curve. Just a bit of rounding off rather than coming to a peak, and it would be quite nice. This is exciting for me. Sure, this box isn’t as sexy as the last two, but it feels great to see a design evolve and get better. I need to do this with other boxes that I’ve made, but that will have to wait for most of them until after I’ve completed 52 boxes. I’ll be back at new designs with box 41.
OK, let’s get random.
1. The pull is either kingwood or cocobolo.
2. Look at the inclusion of the front. Awesome. Small imperfections like this a very important to my design. You might have noticed that I prefer straight, quiet grain. Small, isolated imperfections break up that uniformity, giving it individuality and asymmetric beauty.
3. Dear me, I’m running out of apple. What every shall I do when it’s gone? I’m too old to get drunk and cut down trees in apple orchards. Right?
4. Just 12 more boxes to go. I have a few of them planned, but otherwise, it’s wide open. That’s a bit scary. It’s also very exciting. I know that I’ll get all 52 done, so there’s an element of surprise about what’s to come. I can’t wait to see what I pull out of the proverbial hat. (I do know that there will not be a rabbit-shaped box, so don’t worry about that.)