Straw Box

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Blog entry by stefang posted 06-17-2012 11:40 AM 2618 reads 0 times favorited 32 comments Add to Favorites Watch

My wife and I are visiting our son and DIL Sofie in Lycksele Sweden. A small community in Lappland in the north of the country. We visited Sofie’s mother and stepdad yesterday in Umeå, just a 2hr. drive southwest of Lycksele.

The first photos show us approaching the bridge over the Umeå river and then a typical house along the route. The majority of houses were all painted red like this one. The whole area is a vast forest with wolves, bears, moose, reindeer herds and many other furry animals. The economy is mainly driven by logging and wood related industries. I just wanted to give a quick impression of the area.

During our visit with Sofies parents we were shown a small wooden box which was handed down to Sofies stepdad from his grandfather. He had a small farm even further north very near the Finnish border. During WWll some Russian prisoners were allocated as laborers to the local farms. His grandfather treated these prisoners very well during their stay on his farm, and when they left they presented him with a hand made gift box to express their thanks for being treated decently.

The remarkable thing about this box is that the surface design is made from straw. The straw is sliced flat and glued to the box to make a mosaic design. Horse sweat was used for glue. I have seen some spectacular straw art on the net. Maybe not a widely known art form, but it is really fantastic. Here are some examples at the link below. Another interesting thing is that the metal hinges are also home made and work very well. If you zoom in on these photos you will get a much better view of the detail.

Straw has a very smooth surface and reflects light very beautifully. It can be easily dyed to provide a wide color range. I think woodworkers could put it to good use. I might just give it a try myself, and I would sure encourage others to try it as well.

Thanks for reading this, and I hope you found it interesting.


-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

32 comments so far

View GrandpaLen's profile


1650 posts in 2266 days

#1 posted 06-17-2012 12:00 PM


Beautiful pictures of the countryside and a very interesting and clever box design, rich with history.

Thanks for sharing. – Len

-- Mother Nature should be proud of what you've done with her tree. - Len ...just north of a stone's throw from the oHIo, river that is, in So. Indiana.

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 3297 days

#2 posted 06-17-2012 12:25 PM

thank you mike so much every time you go on a trip you give us something of value to look at and see, i love this box,,thanks mike.grizz

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View jjw5858's profile


1135 posts in 2595 days

#3 posted 06-17-2012 12:49 PM

Very interesting blog, great pictures and information on this incredible form of woodwork. Thanks for sharing it!

-- "Always continue to learn, laugh and share!" JJW

View Jim Rowe's profile

Jim Rowe

1038 posts in 2306 days

#4 posted 06-17-2012 12:49 PM

It’s beautiful country up there. Even more spectacular in the winter.

-- It always looks better when it's finished!

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile (online now)

Lee A. Jesberger

6855 posts in 3973 days

#5 posted 06-17-2012 01:02 PM

The whole post is incredible.

Thank you.


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View helluvawreck's profile


31019 posts in 2860 days

#6 posted 06-17-2012 01:29 PM

Thanks for this post, Mike, and the story about the box. I enjoyed it very much. It’s beautiful box.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View Jamie Speirs's profile

Jamie Speirs

4168 posts in 2850 days

#7 posted 06-17-2012 01:38 PM

Thanks for sharing Mike

It is a shame if these wonderful old

crafts disappear


-- Who is the happiest of men? He who values the merits of others, and in their pleasure takes joy, even as though 'twere his own. --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

View Brit's profile


7373 posts in 2836 days

#8 posted 06-17-2012 02:22 PM

That must have taken ages to make. I’ve never heard of using straw in this way. Thanks for sharing it.

-- - Andy - Old Chinese proverb says: "If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it."

View patron's profile


13603 posts in 3334 days

#9 posted 06-17-2012 02:28 PM

nice gift
even in times of trouble
human kindness shines through

and a pretty country up there

enjoy your visit dad

when i built my house
the neighbor i bought the property from
gave me this handmade mexican straw picture
as a house warming present

i thought it was a picture of a real one
so i took it apart

it’s the real deal !

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View NH_Hermit's profile


394 posts in 3089 days

#10 posted 06-17-2012 02:32 PM

Mike, thank you for posting this. I always enjoy seeing photos of different countries and seeing how people live. So far, I am convinced that all people everywhere are essentially the same.

I showed the box to my wife who had spent her early medical career as a physiatrist working in the Soviet penal system. She said that wood working and the use of straw was a favorite pass time for prisoners.

-- John from Hampstead

View a1Jim's profile


117085 posts in 3570 days

#11 posted 06-17-2012 02:40 PM

Hey Mike
Thanks I really enjoyed the photo tour , that’s a very unique and interesting box .

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View stefang's profile


15881 posts in 3327 days

#12 posted 06-17-2012 02:41 PM

Thanks everybody for your interest and nice comments. I’m very glad you enjoyed it and special thanks to David for showing us this Mexican straw art which I find to be really cool. It’s easy to see that the possibilities of straw art are virtually unlimited, and easy to combine with woodworking.

Jim It sounds like you know the area very well. You are so right, loads of snow and very cold temperatures. This whole area is mainly vast forests with a lot of Birch and Alder. We arrived in the first part of June and I have been struggling to breathe with all the pollen in the air. Our car windows were yellow with it. Despite that, we are having a greatl time and we have been very well received by all of our new and wonderful extended family.

John Thanks for adding some interesting detail. There are mind boggling vast forests in Russia and many if not most of the people who live in those areas are very highly skilled and have long traditions of all kinds of woodworking.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View sharad's profile


1117 posts in 3798 days

#13 posted 06-17-2012 05:18 PM

Mike thank you for the pictures of the country side and the straw boxes. Had it not for you we would have never known that boxes are made out of straw. I wish you travel more and more so that we get to know many more surprises. I am sure you will enjoy your trip to your loved ones.


-- “If someone feels that they had never made a mistake in their life, then it means they have never tried a new thing in their life”.-Albert Einstein

View stefang's profile


15881 posts in 3327 days

#14 posted 06-17-2012 06:27 PM

Thanks Sharad, good to hear from you. I hope life is treating you well. By the way, I forgot to mention that the box itself is made from wood, Pine from the looks of it. The straw is glued to the surfaces to create the decorative pattern.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4170 posts in 3158 days

#15 posted 06-17-2012 08:17 PM

Hey Mike, very interesting travelog, as usual. I could have produced similar pictures in Alaska, similar climate is an equalizer of sorts.

Hope all is well with you and the family. I am still slogging along with a business related programming project…....which of course will take 3 times the amount of time I figured. I calculated that fact many years ago when I did a lot more programming. So not much time in the shop… fact I am making myself stay away from hobbies until I am done…

Fathers Day here in the USA, so happy Father’s day, Mike….........(-:


-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

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