I have been wanting to make another hope chest since Gagan's suggestion when she saw my embroiderer's cupboard. Gagan told me that it was common for Indian women to spend ages embroidering dupattas or bedcovers for their daughters as dowry. An inspired moment came when I saw a painted wooden chest being advertised for sale on a Fine Art and Furnishing website. It was labelled a painted teakwood chest, late 19th century, Rajasthan. I have seen similar chests like that described as folk dowry chests made by the Gujarati tribal people. Heavily and intricately carved, it is of course perfect for my Rollas.
Now if you think it is easy to reproduce the chest in miniature, well, you are right! Let me show you how I made a carved chest (last Sat & Sun) in 8 easy steps.
Identify a suitable box to bash.
Sand the surface and then chisel appropriately to age the box.
Pay more attention to edges as these are the places that show its age first.
Look at a real old box for guidance if need.
Spray paint the whole box brown, including inside.
This step is helpful in making the subsequent coats stick.
Step 4 &
An Unnecessary But Good To Do Step
Picture of front and bottom of the chest after distressing.
Distress the box.
I use any opportunity I can get to practise my painting skills.
So although the box will eventually not be of this colour and the effort may seem wasted,
I assure you it's not.
The colours I used for the distressing at this stage can be found in the quilt cupboard post.
I have decided that the inside of the box will not be "painted" the final colour which is turquoise so the aging inside here is important.
Likewise for the bottom of the box because I wanted to preserve this watermark.
This is the fun step where you identify suitable jewellery findings to simulate the carvings.
Cut and crop them if necessary.
Pictures of top (pots of flowers) and front of chest
Play with the findings to create the patterns you want on all sides of the chest
except the bottom and the back.
Don't glue the findings on yet until you have spray painted them their 1st coat of brown.
After I have tried out all the the patterns, I spray painted every piece of the findings brown.
This picture was taken when I found out I short sprayed one flower.
Note the "lock fittings" of the chest lying on the newspaper (left of box).
This will be glued only after you have painted the chest turquoise.
Be sure to keep this piece (after you have "rusted" it properly) safely. I lost it twice!
Top of chest
I am sorry about the picture. I kept telling myself to take pictures of all the stages but as usual, I got so carried away when I started painting that I forgot to photograph the "just before turquoise" stage.
Anyway, after step 6, brush the box with turquoise paint.
Make sure some of the browns show through to give the aged effect of a painted wooden box.
I used my fingers a lot at this stage.
I have added "bells" at the bottom.
I have seen these bells being used to decorate many folk furniture from India.
Thanks to Divya who was from Chennai, I found out that Indians consider the sound of jingling bells to be auspicious and good for the body/mind which is why it is traditional for them to wear bangles and anklets.
For the Rollas, there is another practical purpose.
If anyone should be so daring as to steal the chest, you can hear it a mile a way.
These flat carved beads were used as the plump legs.
Glue the lock fittings last.
This is a metal part of the box so I did not to paint it blue
to distinguish it from the wooden part.
Front of Chest
Side of chest
Back of Chest
Inside of Chest
The Real Thing
I know it is hardly an exact replica of the real thing as you can see by comparing it with the picture below.
This is the real chest from Rajasthan. Details can be found on the website of J.H.Terry Gallery.
But for a carved box made without any carving
I think it is a passable imitation?