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"My Soft Underbelly"

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Project by Triumph1 posted 444 days ago 2882 views 18 times favorited 34 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I received an email through my website requesting a commissioned urn. She wanted an urn to hold the ashes of her departed son. When asked what aspects she was looking for in the urn she said that he liked working with metal. She also liked angles over curved surfaces. Early on she sent me a picture of him as a very young boy. She stated how peaceful those times were…that really struck me emotionally and the design work for “My Soft Underbelly” started.

The body of the urn is made from a piece of figured Claro Walnut I picked up on a trip out to San Francisco. The grain wraps around the box. The entire body is made using mortise and tenon construction. A lot of careful cutting and routing took place to get all the angles perfect. I made three routing fixtures to add the machined out detail to all four sides. The silver you see is aluminum tubing. I cut 55 pieces of tubing and filled them with a mixture of two-part epoxy tinted with India ink. I made two fixtures to sand them down to the same length and polish the ends. I made them flush on the body of the box. They strengthen the miter joint. The angled “bottom” of the box has eight tee nuts in it to attach the Claro Walnut Picture frame (that has Wenge splines to strengthen it). Behind the frame is the access to the ash chamber. The bottom is lined in black velvet. I wanted the urn to be something that is touched and shown. I made the inside accessible so it can hold memories and not just be put on a shelf to stare at. The inside is lined in red velvet.

The legs and the majority of the lid are made from the Claro Walnut also. The two panels in the lid are veneered with Amboyna Burl and Curly Maple. The brackets that hold the feet are made from African Blackwood and carved to look like hammered steel. Almost all the edges of the brackets, legs and lid have a .1” rebate on the edges to amplify the “machined” look. That took another three custom routing fixtures. I left the aluminum dowels proud of the bracket surfaces to represent rivets. You can see in the pictures how the legs are only mounted using the brackets. This gives them a floating look.

The key to the urn is to expose its “soft underbelly”. To do this you place the urn onto a mirror and a reflection of her son is shown. “My Soft Underbelly” was created to represent the vulnerability one has with love.

The twist to this story is the new owner shared the same last name as me…and her departed son and I have the same name…Jeff Baenen. This made it a very special build. The picture of him on the tractor was taken at a Baenen family reunion that happened almost 30 years ago..and I remember being there. It turns out we are distantly related cousins. She found me by Goggling her sons name. The world works in mysterious ways.

“My Soft Underbelly” is 12” x 8.5” x 7.5”. It was finished with four soakings of Danish Oil followed by two buffings of BriWax. The hinges were purchased from Ian Hawthorne ..they are awesome. I polished all the stainless screws prior to assembly.

-- Jeff , Illinois Please...can I stay in the basement a little longer, please!





34 comments so far

View sras's profile

sras

3780 posts in 1730 days


#1 posted 444 days ago

What a beautiful piece – so much detail and meaning! While all your work is first class – the story and unique details make this one of your best (in my opinion ;)

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View gbear's profile

gbear

389 posts in 2700 days


#2 posted 444 days ago

I think you nailed it Jeff….great job!

-- gbear, Carmichael, CA

View savannah505's profile

savannah505

1692 posts in 2187 days


#3 posted 444 days ago

Sweet piece!!!!! Love the look and, oh hell, I it’s all superb!!!!

-- Dan Wiggins

View watermark's profile

watermark

394 posts in 544 days


#4 posted 444 days ago

NICE work.

-- "He who has no dog, hunts with a cat" Portuguese proverb

View kiefer's profile

kiefer

2949 posts in 1268 days


#5 posted 444 days ago

Jeff this is a very touching and emotional project .

The design is very original as usual with your work ,but this one touches my heart .

-- Kiefer 松

View NaptownWood's profile

NaptownWood

242 posts in 474 days


#6 posted 444 days ago

Crazy coincidence and great piece. Wood and metal go nicely together, and the mirror thing is cool.

-- Witty signature line still pending

View  Box 's profile

Box

4937 posts in 1909 days


#7 posted 444 days ago

What an awesome box Jeff…! it is also extra special because of the unique situation and story behind it. This piece will be treasured forever…

View Woodbridge's profile

Woodbridge

2570 posts in 1019 days


#8 posted 444 days ago

An amazingly creative, very touching and sensitive creation.

-- Peter, Woodbridge, Ontario

View shipwright's profile

shipwright

4843 posts in 1399 days


#9 posted 444 days ago

You are just so wonderfully creative Jeff.
The world does turn in some strange ways doesn’t it ?

Well done.

-- Paul M ..............If God wanted us to have fiberglass boats he would have given us fiberglass trees. http://prmdesigns.com/

View stefang's profile

stefang

12588 posts in 1935 days


#10 posted 444 days ago

It seems that this box was meant to be Jeff. It is very beautiful and at the same time a very sensitive and wholly appropriate design. It’s hard to believe that this was all just coincidence.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Ian Hawthorne's profile

Ian Hawthorne

291 posts in 1250 days


#11 posted 444 days ago

Fantastic!!!!

-- Coming soon the new improved Neat hinge! http://hawthornecrafts.com/our-blog/

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

13305 posts in 939 days


#12 posted 444 days ago

Beyond incredible. The whole project is beautiful and the story is heart wrenching for the mother.

-- Mother Nature created it, I just assemble it. - It's not ability that we often lack, but the patience to use our ability

View CampD's profile

CampD

1194 posts in 2087 days


#13 posted 444 days ago

Nice tractor, that you driving it!

-- Doug...

View Roger's profile (online now)

Roger

14146 posts in 1405 days


#14 posted 443 days ago

This is krazy-kool! and I mean that in a good way. Wow!!

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Kentuk55@bellsouth.net

View milehigh's profile

milehigh

54 posts in 1941 days


#15 posted 443 days ago

Brought tears to my eyes.

Beautiful Piece

Thank you for sharing your work and the story

Paul

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