Sunday, March 9, 2008
Boxes and Beads
From time to time, I've made handmade boxes cutting the parts out of hard greyboard and covering them with luscious papers.
The first one is designed to hold several sizes of the small double-pointed knitting needles that are used for making socks. I wanted to keep the needles sorted since at this size, it's difficult to see the numbers and eventually over time with use, the numbers tend to be worn off. Also, I wanted to be able to pick the needles out of the container easily, so by tipping the box forward, the needles all fall to the front, still in their individual compartments and easily accessible. Unfortunately, I don't have a photo of the needles in the drawer, but they are in small compartments that have a 'bridge' holding them in.
The rope is rafia strands, twisted in the technique used by Japanese to make rice straw rope.
The bead. Ah, the beads. Believe it or not, in the first box shown, the bead is hollow. It is extremely light, yet it is strong because it is made out of porcelain from a two-part plaster mold. I took a large marble and poured wet plaster into a small, rather tall box. As it was beginning to set up, I placed a small child's ball which had a generous coating of liquid soap all over it into the plaster half-way. After the plaster set up and cured well, I applied a good coating of liquid soap to the plaster. I mixed more plaster and poured it into the box, let it cure and then removed all the cardboard. Voila! a square two-part mold. To make the bead, I poured liquid porcelain into both halves, let them set up enough to very carefully remove them and join the center together to form the whole bead. (I learned later I could make a two-part mold with a pour hole, but I'm sure it would have been just as much work as the two halves technique.) Handling beads this way certainly takes a light touch!
This bead is only fired to bisque range. After the clay was set up and was easier to handle, I carved out small openings and made the string hole. The porcelain here is colored with a stain and made in the same way Wedgewood and Minton made wares using liquid slip in white in a technique called pate sur pate (paste over paste).
I wrote a short article for Studio Potter about the process and included several photos of a few of this and other beads.
The box pictured here is a lesson in how to make a sliding drawer. The funny thing is, you make the drawer; THEN construct the box around it. Trickey. This bead is a hand-formed and glazed with a transparent glaze.
The last box is one made for my sister. (A purchased bead tops off the box.) This idea is a box made like a perfume box with a top that slides upwards. It is also a sock knitting needle container and the needles fall forward and fan out when the top is opened.. You can't see it in this photo, but the box has 6 compartments--three on one side and three on the back. If I make this design again, I would incorporate a tiny draw-string to corral the needles before sliding the lid back on. Or, make little sliding compartments that could be pulled up to select the right needles. I would put the needle size numbers on the top so it would be easy to pick the size.