|Project by Boxguy||posted 05-21-2012 05:04 PM||3644 views||8 times favorited||35 comments|
Story: I never know where making boxes is going to lead me next. I combined my woodworking with some fine artists and working together we made boxes that we couldn’t make working separately. One artistic friend introduced me to the concept of Wabi-Sabi. At first I thought it was a salad dressing. But no, it is a Japanese philosophical/art concept. Since the Lumber Jocks site is lacking in good Oriental Philosophy articles, I thought I’d take a few sentences to explain some things about Wabi-Sabi…first as a concept and then as an application to making this box. Here goes…
Philosophy: These three truths are a basic tenet of Wabi-Sabi thinking.
Nothing is perfect.
Nothing is permanent.
Nothing is complete.
Well, that wasn’t too bad was it? Of course there is more to this, but that brief summary is enough for our purpose.
Application: So if you’re the Boxguy, how do you make a Japanese philosophy into a box? Well, that was a challenge. So I thought…what could represent the imperfect, the non-permanent, and the incomplete better than a piece of spalted maple paired with a maple burl? Spalted wood is always changing as it goes through the stages of decay. Its the decay and the work of Powder Post Beetles that give the sides of this box its charm. Though arrested for now, this process of change will some day start again in this wood. A burl is a tree’s attempt to heal itself. And the burl on the top of this box is at once beautiful and tragic. Beautiful because of the graceful twists and turns in the grain, and tragic because the tree produced this burl in response to an injury. Thus, the flawed beauty of wood that has decayed and a burl that has a grain disrupted by healing make for a type of serene melancholy…it is beautiful, but it is sad at the same time. The same is true for our life experience…but that idea is for another place and time.
Techniques: Working with spalted wood and burls takes patience. The soft spots tend to dig out when sanding. I found that it helps to put several coats of poly on the wood before you even start the final sanding process. Once the wood is planed, or (in my case) drum sanded, I soak it with poly to get it to stabilize somewhat then I build the box. About 100 pounds of air pressure and an air gun will help “sandblast” away the loose sawdust and the dried mud in the spalted wood. Some people are highly allergic to spalted wood sawdust. Take precautions.
Thanks: As always I appreciate that you took time to look and read. I especially appreciate those Lumber Jocks who take time to write comments. That is what makes these posting fun for me.
-- Big Al in IN