This is part #3 of this series. Please make sure to read the previous part before you continue with this one. Thanks!
I use a variety of imported and domestic woods in my boxes. Species I use commonly are walnut, koa, padouk, bubinga and zebrawood. Recently I completed a small scale solar, lumber kiln with which I hope to make use of locally grown hardwoods. I often use combinations of two or three woods of contrasting colors in each box. I like the effects of mixed woods, since contrasting species bring out the best of each other’s grain and color. The use of mixed woods along with the exposed ends of the dowels adds to the character of my boxes.
Watching the reactions of people to my boxes at numerous craft fairs has been rewarding. It has also aided me in making design refinements. For the boxes without magnetic lid closures I had thought I should leave off the thumb hole as it seemed a discontinuity in the lines of the box. I made a batch without the thumb holes but soon realized my error. A person with large hands like mine who knows how the box works can easily raise the lid with one hand, but a person with small hands who isn’t quite sure how the lid opens may have to use two hands. Using two hands is an inconvenience, especially since many prospective buyers at craft shows have one hand fully carrying a purse of previous purchases. Also, fingernails can leave scratches in the wood while trying to get a grip on the lid. Needless to say, I now include a thumb hole in all of my boxes.
Even with the thumb hole, some people have difficulty figuring out how the box works. Many people think it is a “trick” box, though I didn’t intend it to be. I have to keep a close watch on my display boxes because customers will often leave them backwards on my table, facing away from the traffic. The next person who comes along doesn’t realize the box is backwards and tries to raise the back of the lid. Many times I have cringed and politely rescued a box from clawing fingernails.
Another fact I discovered at craft shows is that along with looking good and working well, my boxes also feel good. People often stop and caress the boxes even if they can’t figure out how they open. A woman at a recent show commented that the boxes feel very sensual. Including the aroma of the cedar when opened, my boxes appeal to three sense: visual, tactile and olfactory. The pursuit might even include the pleasing “clap” as the lid falls closed, covering four out of five sense. Now if only I could find wood that tastes good!