Saturday 16 October 2010

Day 198 & 199-Making A Carved Box Without Carving

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. 

Step 1

Identify a suitable box to bash. 

Step 2 

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.

Step 3

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.

Step 5 

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.

Step 6

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!

Step 7 

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.

Step 8

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?


Sumaiya Mehreen said...

unbelievable! you are so artistic! the transformation of this box is amazing!

Neomig said...

Hey- this so much work-and the result is gorgeous.

Tallulah Belle said...

WOW,WOW,WOW this is just awesome.

I bought some similar findings to do somehting like this on a counter I planned to make for a florists shop. Not as ornate as this obviously and I didn't' know if it would work but dang it works perfectly.

This is truly your best piece ever !

Now if only I could do this in life size I'd have 2 amazing bedside cabinets for my Indian room lol.

The Old Maid said...

It is AMAZING chest!!! Beautiful turtorial! Thank you for sharing, Sans!:)I always believe in the power of metal jewellery findings ;)they can be used to so many ideas. I just love the little flowers on the top, they are so pretty! The chest looks so real:) I think yours looks much more delicate and prettier than the real one:)

Ascension said...

Yo no creo que sea una imitacion pasable, creo que es un original FANTASTICO!!!!!!
Que trabajo mas bien hecho, me encanta el realismo que consigues en tus trabajos.
Muchas gracias por el tutorial, sera dificl llegar a tu altura.
besitos ascension

Dark Squirrel Victoria said...

Thank you Sans! Beautiful!!! I can't wait to make one for my remodel. Love the turquoise and the bell beads are Brilliant!

Victoria ♥

Unknown said...

It's fantastic ! incredible how you've done it socreative . It looks very old used and authentic. Congratulations !

rosanna said...

BEAUTIFUL !!!!!! I love it to bits !!! I WANT ONE !!!! no, do not do one for me...I'll do one for myself.But I do love how you did it. You are great!

Cate and David said...

It looks magnificent! Thank you for sharing - I'd love to try something like that!

Flora said...

Traduzione da Italiano verso Inglese
Sans ...
But what can I say?!
Can I hold back a little, due to the low credit internet, but know that I love this chest and I love you, as you are ...
I repeat that you are an artist of rare sensitivity.
Thanks by me :-)

Susanne said...

Gosh, gosh gosh!!! I love the box. Fantastic idea, fantastic details and fantastic result. I just love ornaments, and painting and the possibilities..
Love, Susanne

Caseymini said...

That would be a perfect use for some of the sandalwood fan pieces that I have been using! Thanks Sans!

Mercedes Spencer @ Liberty Biberty said...

Fabulous work!
It looks every bit as wonderful as the real thing!
Beautiful colour too!!

Virginia isabel said...

Menuda maravilla de baul. Una idea ganial lo de usar abalorios y dar una mano de pintura. Ha quedado fantastico.

Daydreamer said...

Oh, Sans! I am in LOVE with your carved box! You have done a magnificent job... and you show how "easy" it is so we can all make our own! You are so generous and inventive! It looks just fantastic in the Rollas House! (Where did Mr. Punch get off to?) I Love the way the pattern on the front of the chest is "echoed" in the pattern on the wall.... you are really good with pattern and detail! And painting and "bashing"! :)!

Pubdoll said...

Hi Sans! Sorry for being away so long, but you know I haven't been much home this last month.
This chest is so wonderful, I think it's much prettier than the original!
I love the turquoise colour and the aging and your eye for making beautiful ornaments out of bits and pieces of jewellry shows what a truly gifted artist you are!

Glenda said...

The chest is just brilliant, Sans!!
Thanks somuch for the how-to, my mind was teeming with ideas of how to use these techniques in other places, too!! Fretwork, screens, those wonderful eastern latticework windows . . .

Sans! said...

Hey Sumaiyaaaa!!!! Long Time No See! :). Thank you for visiting and the compliment :). I have been wondering about you and how your house is coming along! You must be busy with school.

Sans! said...

Morning Neo :):) Good to see you again!

Cupboard is too intricate and heavy, definitely not "Neo" :):). My boyfriend's family name is Neo .
I think it became the coolest last name in Singapore :):) after Matrix.

Sans! said...

Yo, Jayne :):) yes, it works :). As you can see, all you need is glue and a pair of cutter. You can create anything. O yes, and paint.

I have a bit of a block when it comes to lifesize. The other day, my cloth doll tore and I needed t sew it back. It just stood in a corner for months without me touching it. I didn't think I could sew until I looked at a mini rug I am stitching and thought shikes,mending the doll should be easier, surely??!!

Mended the doll and finished my rug last night!!!

Think if I do the quantum leap in m mind and think giant, maybe I can make a lifesize carved box with many many many big size jewellery findings? :):) only half joking

Tallulah Belle said...

I've just realized I can click to a post from my email...duh...this is so much easier lol

Of course you can sew lol.

I wonder how big findings like this actually come. Should be able to find some big enough to at least put a bit on say a front of a reli size drawer...hmmmm.

I must do a post soon of all the things I've collected for my Indian room...I have lots of goodies :-)wayler

Minnie Kitchen said...

the transformation is amazing!

Fiver said...

Oh SUSAN!!! WOWWWWW!!! That's amazing!! It's a beautiful little chest and what a great idea. Thanks so much for sharing this technique with us. For somebody who isn't exactly all that graceful with sharp instruments, this is really good to know.

julie campbell said...

Sans this is fabulous !
I havent been able to get on to your blog page for a while,it wouldnt load for me but what a treat this morning when I tried again :0) I want to make one too and think I will !! it looks so wonderful, and not too hard to do either, now that is my kind of project :0)
julie xxx

Sans! said...

Hey Ewa :):). Thank you so much for all those wonderful compliments :). I didn't know when I started that it would actually look quite convincing.

A word of caution: Jewellery findings unlike say fretwork Chinese fans are actually very heavy when so many of them are concentrated in 1 small space. My little box at first could not stand because I only put the "bells" in the front and since the back has no findings, it is already front heavy. After the pictures, I had added bells to the back as well. And the box still tilt a little but no longer by much. I "blu tac" all my pieces to the house anyway so they stay in the place so keeping it up is not a problem :). To make it balance, I will have to place some things inside.Do bear that in mind when you are making the box :).

Maria Jose said...

Wow ! A perfect work !!!

Ana Anselmo said...

Sans, this is fantastic!!!! great job, lots of imagination, lots of criativity!!!!! this is really a piece to be proud of!
lots of hugs from Portugal

Sans! said...

Ascensión, tus palabras son tan conmovedor. Yo estoy cerca de derramar una lágrima en su "sera dificl llegar a tu altura" palabras, es el momento del mes y estoy un poco emocionado. jejejejejeje ... Y Google Translate es lo que es aún peor!

mucho amor y besos

Sans! said...

Hey Vic, I look forward to seeing your remodel :):). I know you have tons of beads to try it with :).

Happiness is when I won two of your bottles :). Yay yay!!

Sans! said...

Elena,THANK YOU! I love it when someone compliments my creations with words like "old, used and authentic" :):). I mean it, I really do. I think it's the highest compliment :). That's why I love this world. Where else is "old , used and authentic" beautiful ? :):) said...

Sans.... die Truhe ist so toll geworden. Gefällt nir sehr gut...!

Liebe Grüße PuNo/Monika

GB said...

Oh woman, you take my breath away!! I want to live that life now...

Sans, I think I need to do another feature on you.....

Eva said...

it is one of the most amazing tutorials that I have ever seen...
Oj¡k, this transformation will be in my list of pending things..I have to triy it...
Really beautiful chest...
My dear your imagination has no limits, creativity is wonderful.
Un beso and thanks for the link to my giveaways :P

Lorraine Escapita said...

The trunk looks amazing!!!! Really amazing!!!! I love the look of carved things and always had troubled in minis, this tutorial is just perfect! Thank you so much for sharing and it really is beautiful!

Sound Horn Please said...

Another unbelievably fantastic post! I'm going to try this out someday too. The chest is so beautiful, and your tutorial so clear. I can't believe I discovered your blog so late. It has now become one my favourite blog! And thanks for the mention :)

Unknown said...

pffts pshaww!!!! no way an imitation, a true ORIGINAL is what it is. so lovely your work!!
i wanna SEE TOUCH HOLD!! :P worry not i won't abscond with it, if i did you would hear it anyway...right? :X

Sans! said...

WOW!!! All these wonderful comments!! I have been a little out of sorts over the weekend , am feeling much better now. :):) Reading the comments make me well, I think, so much so I feel like going for a run :):), tomorrow morning!

Just had to come in to tell whoever's reading this (peeps I know who love Alice in Wonderland are Victoria, Rosanna, Jayne(?) Cate and ME! about this series called "Alice"I am watching on AXN Beyond. It is a modern take on Alice in Wonderland, about a 20 something year old girl called Alice Hamilton who suddenly finds herself on the otherside of a looking glass. I am watching episode 2 now :):). I LOVE IT!!!! Catch it if you can!

Sans! said...

Hey Rosanna, you having a good Sunday so far? Mine is coming to an end soon :( It's already 10.24pm here :).

This Sunday is spent mainly in my room watching tele. It is Annie now, right after Alice :):). This version of Annie is the one with Carol Burnett, not sure if you have even heard of her but I grew up watching the Carol Burnett Show. She is just so hilarious, even in this Annie. Actually this Annie is quite a gem. Another must watch :).

AND I am sure you will come up with a box more magnificent! Do show when it's done :):)

Sans! said...

Hey Cate :) Thank you for being here and leaving such a sweet comment. I am so glad that you will want to do a carved box yourself. I will really love to see it when it's done. I read your posts all the time so I'll know when you do :)

Sans! said...

Awwwww Flora!! Sono molto emozionato oggi (il tempo del mese), così i tuoi commenti sta facendo il mio condotti lacrimali lavorare di più:):)

Google Translate rovinare quello che voglio dire .. hahaha!

Comunque, io sono solo felice che quando non mi sento in cima al mondo, essere a letto con crampi, ho degli amici come voi a tirarmi su!

Sans! said...

Susanne! Thanks to these ornaments, even someone like me can make a seemingly intricate box :). I mean that, seriously.

The one thing I am most happy with this post is to be able to show that you don't really need to have loads of experience or skills to make something like this.

On the other hand, I am quite overwhelmed really with the very generous compliments from everyone, some of you, I know are capable of really carving a miniature wooden box or painting exquisite scenes on a cupboard or plate no bigger than a coin. :) One day, I will still like to really carve something! :):)

Gemma (Gempo) said...

Fantastic Susan, perfect work and tutorial. Best wishes

Heather said...

Lovely. Thanks for showing all the steps!

Flor said...

¡Guuuaaauuu!!!! ¡Que trabajo tan increíble Sans!!!! O = ¡Es maravilloso!!!!
Mil gracias por el tutorial ( =
Un beso

CWPoppets said...

Oh, this is such a beautiful chest. Will try to make one, too. Thank you so much for the tutorial!

Sans! said...

Casey :) thank you!! As I have commented on your blog, I much prefer sandalwood fan mainly because I think they are lighter. Cutting them without splintering is a little tricky so I guess only craft knives and not scissors for me. I am clumsy that way. I am still thinking of how to mask the glue and paint smell so that the sandalwood aroma can be retained. I will be really interested to find out what your methods are!

Sans! said...

Mercedes!! I see you manage to steal some comp time from your boy :). Thank you for being here and for the sweet words! I want to see more of your barn soon!!!! When, dearie???? :):):)

Sans! said...

Gracias Virginia. Me alegro de verte aquí:):)

Sans! said...

Betsy :) Just like you to notice a) the similar patterns b) that Punch had been booted out for the photoshoot with Box. Not sure if you know of my other blog with a damn long name (something "Projects") but if you wander over, you will see where Punch ended up :). Let's see if you can spot another bad pun :):)

I am really happy to do this and it really is no big secret. Using findings to assimilate carvings on wood has been done by many wonderful miniaturists who have also shared their tutorials on blogland :). I think it was on the blog of dear Sylvia (Lotjesdollhouse) who first open my eyes to this with her beautiful shabby Gustavian bench . I remembered how my jaw had dropped at how easy it had seemed but then, I didn't know I could paint. I am really not particularly generous so you must stop making me blush! haha

Sans! said...

HELEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEENE!!!!! It is sooooooooooo gooooooooood to see you again!!!!!! :):) All the more when you put me on this pedestal as high as the Empire State Building :):):) LOL. I see that you have posted on New York and I am rushing over to read it right after this reply!

I remember a long long long time ago when my office suggested going to New York for our firm's vacation. A colleague asked "what is there in New York?" I said : many wonderful buildings. My colleague retorted very nicely "errr, if I want to see buildings, I can always go to Shenton Way (which is our business district..hehe) "

Anyway, I am making a trip myself to the land of the late Geoffrey Bawa :). SuZ met him once when he went shopping at the shop he was working in. It was almost 20 years ago. He was already almost 70? then but had an entourage of "able-bodies" to assist him especially when he was climbing the stairs . My sis said it was like watching an Empress Dowager :):).

rupa said...

Your imagination and creativity is mind blowing! You are so humble too about your amazing talents, that just makes you extra special!

Piikko said...

Sans, your work and this chest are so amazing!! I love the colour and those bells...beautiful♥ You do have a good imagination and a lot of knowledge too.
Greetings and Hugs, piikko

Laura said...

WOW!!! That is *amazing*! :D

Sans! said...

Yeah Glenda :):) I was thinking the same thing especially the windows. For the 1st time after I made this box,I am seriously thinking maybe by the time I am done with bashing the 4 houses I have, I am ready to build my palace . Although I still much rather someone carve the palace for me , just the carcass like a plain box with carvings and then I do the rest. At the moment, the thought of sawing palace walls and floors are still daunting but making lattice windows, A-OK!! :):)

Sans! said...

Jayne, SHOW SHOW SHOW!!! I am so curious about your collection. I think you have mentioned the screen, I have seen your own paintings of course and the fabric for the bedcover.

By the way, how's your house coming along!!! Guess you are too bz with floozies . They are worth your attention. You were famous before them but after them,you are a LEGEND !!!!

Sans! said...

Thank you, Minnie Kitchen! :):)

By the way, I think your Mr Potato Heads ROCK! And your oysters amazingly REAL!

Sans! said...

Thank you Kristy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Nobody is as big a klutz as me where craft knife, chisel or hammer is concerned. I can even hurt myself with a ruler!!!! By the way, when I lost my lock fittings, I was thinking of you on the floor looking for animal body parts :):):)I think I read it in an interview you did for an article..hahaha! But I think it's the hazard of working with minis. Knee guards should be part of our work attire:) :):)

Sans! said...

Oh Julie, you can do anything if you can make those wonderful dolls! But an easy project like this can be relaxing and fun :).

I load a lot of rubbish on my blog, what with music and extra large pics and all sorts of blinkers :):). So it may load too slowly for some people. I have missed seeing you here but know you are busy as well. Tis a good day today with such nice comments from you! :) Thank you!

Sans! said...

Maria Jose :):) it's far from perfect but 100 points to you for thinking so! LOL! And a big THANK YOU ! :):)

Sans! said...

Thank you Ana! Wow, I am really flattered and honoured by your compliments , you know. :):) I still remember quite vividly the marquetry table you built with no short cut! The real deal! I am so glad you popped by and took the time to leave a comment , Ana! You made my day !!!

Sans! said...

Vielen Dank Monika! So glücklich Sie sind hier:):)

Sans! said...

GAGAN!!!!!!! I saw your post :):). The best thing was I didn't expect it and seriously , I savour my reaction even now. It's pretty reeling over backward kind of surprise . Pleasant of course, a little embarrassed maybe and I think I could feel the heat in my cheeks! (sounds like some bad Mills & Boon novels- do people still read those???) THANK YOU, my friend!

I think I will add another link to you in my left bar, only 3 so far ...hahaha! :):)

Unknown said...

Absolutely fantastic, it makes me want to make one this momemnt-thank you for sharing such a wonderful idea and skillfull work of art!

Sans! said...

Thank you Eva :) That's high praise from you, my dear :). Too high! You, who have seen me when I was just such a duh in the early days :):) I have come a long way.

I still can't make myself say I am giving a tutorial though..hehe!So as usual, this is just to share with you guys how I did what I did. :)

By the way, it is my greatest pleasure to showcase your giveaways on my blog. The little I can do :)

Sans! said...

Thank you so much Lorraine. I find it a bit hard to believe you have trouble with making anything mini! :) Your creations are just so amazing and many times involved what I thought were very intricate handiwork!!:)

Sans! said...

Divya, you really really made my day :):). That's why I love reading my comments in instalments. To savour them for as long as I can and be cheered up every single day LOL!

I will love to see your work one day. You have such a good eye for the beauty of others, I am sure your own creation will be just as wonderful!

Sans! said...

Cindy!!!!! I am so torn!!!! Swimming or running along Marina Bay for the I Light up your life installations :):). But Saturday is ONzzzzzzzzz!

No, I know you, you will NOT want to run away with this box :):). ("I where got space- I need every sq mili-inch for my re-ment!!!"- a wise choice, mind you) But I am seriously flattered by your compliments! :)

Sans! said...

Thank you Gemma ! Good to see you here! And may I say it again, that bedroom scene of yours is truly fabulous! The competition standard is very high!

Sans! said...

Heather, pleasure's all mine :):):)!Thank you for visiting!

Sans! said...

Jejejejeje Flor :):):) gracias, gracias, gracias! Elogios del gran maestro hacer una Sans feliz!


Ray said...

the box is amazing! absolutely love it!
check out my blog

Sans! said...

Christine, will love to see a version made by you :):). Maybe something for your babies :):)

Sans! said...

rupa! Those are the sweetest words, ooook, I can feel them go right through to the softest part of my heart and settle in there...niiiiiiice :) THANK YOU!:):)

I hope you are having a blast of a day like I am right now:)

Sans! said...

(((((((((((((((((Piiko)))))))))))))) :)

Do you know that means I am giving you loads of hugs :)

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

And I just made you some heart bells :):) hehe

Sans! said...

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
♥ ♥

That was how the bell was supposed to look like in the small square but they come out distorted when I published it!!!!! Grrr (in case it didn't come out right again. it's a triangle !) :):)

Sans! said...

*gives up on the heart bells and waves at Laura instead :)

Thank you for visiting, Laura :)

Sans! said...

Amy! *speechless . Just damn happy you came by :)

Jorge Cubells said...

Increible, con una simple cajita lo que se puede llegar hacer!!!

Sans! said...

Muchas gracias Jorge! Me alegro que os guste:):) Todavía estoy esperando a ver su armario!

asukasakumo said...

I really love the coloring and the "engraving"!
Although I am kind of confuse with the many legs (?) Haha, I've never seen any chest with that many legs. XD

Sans! said...

Asuka, you mean you have never heard of Caterpillar Cupboards? They are very common ! Every garden has one? ;p

Hehehehe Asuka!! They are "bells" lah! Wahliow!

They serve many functions, you can "ring" them when you enter the house (that's why I put the chest next to the door) , the Rollas don't believe in locking their door. It will also jingle if you put a tray of tea on it so that people know it's tea time :) and of course, don't even think you can run away with the chest. The whole village will be able to hear it!

Natalia's Fine Needlework said...

What a great imagination you have! Natalia,

Piikko said...

(((((((((((((((((Sans)))))))))))))) :)
Hugs, piikko

Piikko said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sans! said...

Thank you Natalia :):) but what imagination when compare to your "Twisted Passion" ! Now that is pure genius !

Sans! said...

A Saturday morning

dalesdreams said...

Sans! The carved chest is absolutely incredible and I love the color. :)

I've found a really good jewelery cutter, if you want one, just let me know.

It looks fabulous. You are fabulous. I'm always entertained and inspired by your accomplishments. Thank you. :)

I commented on another post, but realise now, I didn't do the thing at the bottom, it's been a while, and I forgot. :(

Sans! said...


Nice to see you back in blogland :). You staying or fleeting? :):).

We were just talking about you at our Oct Mini Meet last Saturday. You know, since our 1st with you , we have been really good about our monthly meet :).

I want to see this jewellery cutter! I am really curious. But cutting these findings is really easy. I just use normal scissors and last week, we found a scissors sharpener , thanks to Asuka so maybe after sharpening, my scissors can cut diamonds! heh heh!

Jollie said...

Wow Sans, I love your chest, such a great idea!! Thanks for sharing :)

Hugs, Jollie

Sans! said...

And wow Jollie,you have come quite far back to this post :). Thanks for visiting!

I really enjoyed making this chest! :) Really easy too :). You should try it.

Minka said...

Very clever. Very effective. Thank you for the tutorial!

Sans! said...

Minka, thank you for all your comments :). I saw that you were thinking of starting a mini blog! I will love to see your work in miniatures :). Please do start one :).

cunha said...

Hello, congratulations it's an amazing piece, well done.

Sans! said...

Muchas Gracias Cunha!! I really appreciate you taking the time to tell me so :).

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