New Masters of the Wooden Box
|by Oscar P. Fitzgerald
Fox Chapel Publishing: 2009
Paperback, 216 pp., $29.95
Peter Korn's forward to this book says, "Boxes have a pedigree as ancient as civilization itself...The boxes in this book are not defined by intended use...Where earlier boxes were made to serve, these are made as vehicles of self-expression."
These boxes are artworks, depicting everything from coffers and credenzas to a 20" seesaw box, where removing a lid sets the sculpture in motion. Some are dynamic, with mechanisms for locomotion to open, while many have concealed compartments or celebrate the beauty of multiple wood species.
The book goes into the history of the maker as well as the product, along with its meaning to the artist and a collected sampling of his works. For example, Andy Buck describes "thinking with his hands," Kip Kristensen discusses how to come up with ideas, and Ray Jones tells how problem solving and engineering a box design leads to more and more designs evolving one from another.
Many of these art boxes are turned or carved, with added materials of gems, glass or wire. Many of them celebrate pure wood grain, letting the forms serve as a canvas for nature's spectacle. Jeff and Katrina Seaton accomplished art with three unadorned, bandsawn, nesting eliptical boxes cut from a single block of rosewood. The accomplishment is as remarkable as the finished products.
Thirty master craftsmen are represented here, with excellent photography and insightful text. This is a 'meaty' book, meant to be read thoroughly. The range of creativity included is stunning. Highly recommended.
. . . Barb Siddiqui