Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Box it up for me, please

Okay. Confession time. I love boxes. Whether they're made of wood, metal, corrugated cardboard, paper, fabric, clay, glass, or pretty much anything else, I want to look at them. Touch them. Walk around them. Walk inside them. Climb on top of them. Put things inside them. Modify them. And I want to make them, too.

While many people salivate over the idea of a Caribbean cruise, I'd rather muck about in museums, looking at box collections. Since I'm not likely to convince my husband this is how we should spend our next vacation, I will have to be satisfied with viewing online box tutorials, admiring boxes created by Etsy sellers, and visiting virtual galleries such as Tony Hyman's cigar box collection in the National Cigar Museum, the Lunch Box Museum in Columbus, Georgia, or the Porter Music Box Museum in Randolph, Vermont. Of course, no true box lover travels alone, so I hope you'll accompany me on my box tour.

We'll begin in my sewing room, where I have stored sewing notions in simple paper boxes, folded Origami-style. I found the instructions for these boxes in a book called Origami Boxes: For Gifts, Treasures & Trifles, by Alexandra Dirk.

Since we're already in Iowa, we'll drive about 45 minutes north to visit Brett of VanFleetStreetDesign, who specializes in creating boxes called nichos, which are objects of Latino folk art. "Nichos are made from mixed media and traditionally combine elements from Roman Catholicism, mestizo spirituality, and other cultural items of significance to the owner such as skeletons, small photos and the like," explains Brett. "It is common to see decorative boxes called 'nichos' set upon tables and pedestals to display icons. These boxes may serve as a religious altar (to mark a significant religious event) or to honor a patron saint or to house calaveras (skeletons) of special significance for Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead)."

(Day of the Dead Shadow Box)

After visiting Brett, it's time to hit I-80 East to visit Zuda of ZudaGay in Illinois. Zuda makes all of her own cardboard shipping boxes for the beautiful polymer clay flowers she creates. Her pattern can be adapted for boxes of all sizes.

Box Tutorial, by ZudaGay

Our box tour takes us north, after visiting Zuda, to the Wisconsin Dells, where another polymer clay artist, Berit of ClayCenter, makes "canes" and clay-covered tin boxes, among other items. Berit explains that her work reflects the millefiori tradition, a technique used by Venetian glass blowers that has been adapted for polymer clay. Millefiori means "one thousand flowers," and floral influences are evident in Berit's work.

We travel to the Eastern part of the U.S. next, on our journey to find beautiful and interesting boxes. In Massachusetts we discover photographer Beth of BethPeardonProds, whose love of the sea is reflected in her photos. Since I lived on the West coast for more than a dozen years, I can relate to the feelings she evokes in her shadow box that includes sea shells and one of her sandscape photos.

From Massachusetts it's a relatively short drive to Pennsylvania, where we meet Barb of blazingneedles, who is in her third career as a fiber artist (after teaching and software engineering). She shares with us her knitting loom, which is an amazing piece of equipment. Although Barb's specialty is machine knitting, she also does hand knitting and crocheting. I am in love with her knitted lace boxes!

Also residing in Pennsylvania is Nonnie of Stained Glass by Nonnie. She is a stained glass artist whose Etsy shop showcases her stained glass candle lanterns, lamps, ACEOs (Art Cards, Editions and Originals), and much more. I especially like her Rosewood Box.

From Pennsylvania, we proceed south to North Carolina, where we encounter the studios of Kate of HeronsTreasures, and Judy of artsyclay. Both women share a love of painting and polymer clay, although Kate splits her interests between painting, clay and vintage collectibles, while Judy primarily works with clay.

for sale by HeronsTreasures

Another Etsy artist who loves both painting and working with clay is Jill of JillsTreasureChest. To reach her, however, we need to drive to the far South to visit her Mississippi studio, which is a shed she has had built specifically for her creative ventures. Although much of her work is whimsical, including cat and frog angels, Jill also paints ceramic boxes. I especially like her Southwest Heart Treasure Box, which would be perfect for jewelry.

Our next stop is a fun-filled one as we journey to the Southwest, where Joon of joonE lives. You never quite know what to expect of Joon, whose creative engine is stoked at all times with products that are original, unexpected and fun, as well as earth-friendly. Her sewing and craft goodies box is exactly as she describes it: fun!

by joonE

Our final stop on our box-exploring journey is in Colorado, where Judi of VintageLegacyStudio welcomes us into her home, which is filled with authentic vintage treasures. Among them is a wonderful old sewing machine cabinet drawer that includes a handmade sewing chatelaine, to which are attached sewing notions.

After visiting all of these Etsy artists, I feel inspired to make my own boxes for the thread flower brooches I crochet.

If you'd like to learn more about creating different kinds of boxes, you may wish to check out these books:
© 2009 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved. Please note that the images in this post are owned by the artists and may not be used without permission. Simultaneously published at


Jean Levert Hood said...

Great finds, Judy! What an amazing group of talent. I love Jill's piece, Nonnie is amazing with stained glass, Kate's piece is awesome, Brett's got a winner, and on and on!
Great job, ladies!

Myfanwy said...

Oh, I love boxes too. What great finds. Useful videos too. Thanks for a really good post

circleinthesand said...

What an awesome, fun article. I, too, love boxes of all shapes and sizes!! I want one of each of these beauties!!

Nonnie said...

This is fascinating! I didn't know you were a box enthusiast too! I buy boxes from antique dealers, flea markets, etc. Never made one though, but this inspires me to try it! Thank you.

MagdaleneJewels said...

What a different and interesting blog - Who would have thought of the many possibilities, sizes and shapes that boxes take on. Your choices were perfect - loved the tutorials also! Thanks for the informative blog, esp. at this time of year when we can all use boxes for little gifts!

ZudaGay said...

Wonderful post, Judy!! I love boxes too! Wonderful box finds and your tutorial is great! Thank you!

On a Whimsey said...

What a fascinating post! I learnt so much, thoroughly enjoyed the tutorials, loved looking at the samples and especially the journey with the many stopovers! Just wonderful, thank you

Beth said...

Nice post, I appreciate the use of my shadow box. Tutorial informative. Thanks Judy.

Yankeegirl said...

Can I go on the road trip too!!!? Great feature, Judy.

Judi B said...

Oh, my goodness! I am absolutely blown away and speechless! This was a fascinating blog to read and I really enjoyed both tutorials (Zuda's and Judy's). I love how incredibly inspiring the Bbest Team is! Thanks, Judy.

The Filigree Garden said...

Great post with such a varied assortment of boxes of all types. Loved your tutorial as well.

joon said...

Ooooo...GREAT post, Judy. I love boxes and make a few. My favorite so far was making a Sammy Davis Jr. box for Dusty. I used a vintage album. It was great. I have a stack ready for me. Thanks for the inspiration and for including mt box of FUN. I am a sucker for boxes filled with odds & ends at yard sales and Thrift Stores.

I had no idea about the museum in Randolph. Dang. I lived right there for 7 years. We would have loved it.

Wonderful, thoughtful post. It's chock full of everything boxy.

Chauncey said...

Judy, this is a wonderful post, fun and informative. Love the items you chose to feature too.

Anitra Cameron said...

What a great entry. I'm bookmarking this one, 'cuz I know I'll want to revisit it! Thanks for all the gathering and research!

Clay Center said...

Gosh, what a nice article!
I love boxes, too....
Thank you so much for showing off one of mine!

blazingneedles said...

I love boxes of any sort! I didn't realize there were so many of us that liked boxes. Wonderful post Judy.

Martha said...

Boxes are wonderful and this post shows off such a nice collection of the.

Jill said...

What a great post!!! Thank you for including my box. I loved the tutorials Zuda and Judy did and I'll be revisiting this again to review the information. I'm always looking for great boxes.

jstinson said...

This is a late comment but none the less sincere! Judy, you are an amazing writer! Loved the tour of boxes you conducted!