Random thoughts and bits of life of a coffee loving artist

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Out with the Old, in with the New

Box in its original state
Recently I found myself doing another box rehab. I'm not sure where my dad or I had picked it up from but it had been sitting on my desk for a good month or so staring at me. There was absolutely nothing appealing about it other then the size. The hardware was bad and the box itself was covered in what I could only describe as really bad wallpaper which had a fake snake/alligator skin texture to it. Finally I just couldn't take it any more and decided to make it my next project. 

Ready. Get set. START! 
First step was popping off the hardware. I discovered quickly that the hinges and lock needed to be completely replaced. There was something about thin aluminum hinges that bent easily that was a dead giveaway. So I used a nail file to pop the pieces off, watching little pieces of metal shoot across my desk. Next step was to find a way to get the paper
Outer layer of paper and hardware removed
covering off. Talking it over with my dad of how best to go about it. Originally, the plan was to use sand paper and work through the paper to the wood. I discovered that it wasn't the best idea. The reason was that, with the wood of the box already being thin, it was difficult to gauge how far I needed to go. So, though painstakingly slow, I took an exacto blade and carefully peeled the paper off. This alone took me about 4 or 5 hours, resulting in tired eyes, hand cramps and an aching back. On the plus side, I was able to get the top layer of paper of. It was also an interesting way to discover that the second layer of paper, due to what ever adhesive was originally used, was basically melded with the wood causing it to be impossible to separate the two. It didn't help that I had discovered that the box was made out of a rather porous grade of cedar and was itself being held together with a type of glue and not nails or staples of some sort. 

Filling in gaps

Reconstruction and reassembly 
After sanding what I could, I used my smaller desk lamp to use as a way to find cracks in the wood that needed to be filled. The bottom half of the box was fine but the lid needed some minor repairs since the paper was no longer there to keep the box together. Using some of my E6000 adhesive and a thin stick, I carefully filled in cracks and left the glue to cure completely (overnight). 

The painting process itself, though simple, took most of a day to do since Autumn has started to settle in making painting outside take a bit longer to to wait to dry. Starting off with a black enamel paint, I added hints of a midnight blue then did a bit of a sponged antiquing to it with a metallic silver before doing about two layers of clear glaze. With so many layers and the weather conditions since I was working outside, it took a bit of patience on my end to wait for everything to dry properly. Since I had started in the early morning on the painting process, the layers took until late afternoon/early evening to be at a point where I could continue working on the box without having to worry about leaving finger prints or having to repaint at some point. Of course, silly me, had made sure to wear a dust mask during the paper removal process but during the painting process I hadn't used that precaution so spent most of the day smelling and tasting paint fumes. 

Inspiration on box concept
Next up was the interior. To act as a barrier between the wood and what ever might end up being placed inside of the box, I used red felt and lined the inside of the bottom section. It gave the box a much needed splash of color and softness to the harsh edges. The inside lid was a completely different matter. Being drawn to Asian aesthetics and Steampunk/Victorian whimsy during this part of the process, I decided to combine the two styles. Looking through things that I had on hand, I decided on a piece of origami paper which I carefully measure, cut and glue into the lid. Once in place and making sure that there was no air bubbles or wrinkles, I took my can of clear glaze and heavily sprayed the interior. Basically I was using the glaze almost like a clear apoxie alternative. Making sure that the lid was laying on a level surface, I let the layer dry completely before adding another thick layer. An interesting result to this was that the origami paper became subtly translucent and was almost reminiscent of a stain glass window. To complete the inside of the lid, once the sprayed clear glaze was completely dry, I used adhesive to glue in decorative corners (typically used for the outside of frames or boxes) inside so that it could double as a possible extra storage area. 
Finished box

Once I replaced the hinges with better ones I made the discovery that, due to how the box was, no matter how tight I had the hinges on that the lid would still seem loose. So, for my own piece of mind, ended up using adhesive on where the attachments were in order to be sure that the hinges wouldn't get loosened too easily. Since I couldn't find a latching mechanism that was the same style as the hinges I was using, I went with something a little decorative and perhaps not very conventional. I had a piece of silver ribbon laying around so I decided on making it as a little handle for the lid. Personally I would have liked to have had some kind of closure system for the box but since I was limited on what I had on hand, this was an acceptable alternative on my part. I'm actually pretty happy with the end result of the box and the fact that it has a nearly curiosity cabinet feel to it just makes it just that much enjoyable. 

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