The black walnut box with silver inlay and sycamore as secondary wood is now complete and as always was made entirely with hand tools only.
This project draws inspiration from Japanese art and architecture and the first concept drawing echoed the architectural feel of a torii (鳥居) gate lintel. This was further refined as the small project developed.
The exposed dovetail joinery follows the curves of the ends of the box for an organic feel.
Ornamentation in sterling silver is a simple, nature-inspired illustration in the lid, with the elements in the front of the box tying the composition visually and providing grounding to the shapes of the grasses in the lid. Continue reading
Having carved the lid, we are looking at the rest of the Viking chest today. The form of the box I am making is based on the Mastermyr chest, which is a Viking-made tool chest found in the 1930s in Gotland, Sweden. A farmer, while ploughing for the first time an area reclaimed after draining a lake and a mire, hit on and pulled from the ground an iron chain. The other end of the chain was tangled around an oak box full of woodworking and metalworking tools from the Viking age.
A drawing of the original box. A bit worse for wear and tear but who can complain, after 1,000 years?
The bog environment preserved the box and its contexts in a remarkably good condition for their age (1,000 years). The chest and some 200 tools and blacksmith-made items, including a few fascinating locks, are held in the Swedish History Museum in Stockholm.
My version of the Mastermyr chest, reinterpreted as a box for a child. I do not get any buzz from creating exact replicas, and treat any source material as inspiration.
I like the form and the joinery involved. Because the ends and sides are angled in (not square), it’s more fun than a regular box. And because of the joinery, when you glue it up, you have to do it all in one go. It’s a bit like a puzzle piece to assemble.