Friday, June 21, 2013

Box Project 1 - A New Project - A Regency Box

I see by the dates its been nearly a year since I posted here.  Maybe its something about summer and being shut in the house with the air conditioning droning on and on.  And maybe its summer that makes me think in terms of embarking on long-term projects.  No, I always think in terms of really big projects. LOL  This time the idea was sparked by members of an embroidery list I belong to.  One of the members has been posting pictures of gorgeous Palais Royale sewing boxes.  Richly glowing exotic veneer coffers laden with exquisitely carved mother-of-pearl sewing tools such as would have been used by Marie Antoinette and her court ladies.  Understandably, there has been lots of cooing and twittering about how really delicious these boxes are. 
Then another member had this brilliant suggestion - why don't we each make such a precious box.  Embroidered interior, lovely exterior, a home for our best tools and treasures.  Of course, there were a certain number of us who instantly rose to the bait.  I'll admit it, I love beautiful sewing tools and I am a total sucker for precious beautiful boxes.   Once Phillip referred to me as the "Container Queen".   Guilty as charged.  I have a few carved and painted ones - even a couple I've done myself.  But Palais Royale ?!?....  So I shared all this with Phillip knowing that he'd be amused at the tempest in the embroidery teapot.  And then he asked me "So are you going to use The Box?"

Yes, there's a back story here.  In the world of antique restoration, Phillip's father was a recognized genius when it came to finding and bringing old things back to life.  Living around his shop was like being present at an ever-revolving museum show.  Every time he opened his truck it was a new Cave of Wonders.  Then when the pieces left to make their debut at another show, they were glowing with renewed life.  Sometimes he bought whole job lots of things that included things he didn't really want or never got around to dealing with.  Mostly small things.  He passed away last year after a lingering illness and his shop of 40+ years got gradually cleaned out.   One afternoon Phillip came in with a box he'd found under a pile of trash and sawdust.  Filthy, pealing its veneer at every touch, threatening any minute to disassemble itself to splinters - but underneath all that, voluptuously curved and elegantly domed.  The poor ruin of what was once a lovely Regency box - perhaps for stationary, perhaps for sewing.

He knew I would like to see it even in its present tragic state and, of course, I couldn't let him just toss it out.  So, it has lived on a shelf in my work room ever since - waiting...  Because I don't have the skills to do the re-gluing of its compound surfaces. Last night, at his suggestion, we looked at it again and he judged that, with the right skill set, it could be reglued and begin its journey to a new life.  He promised to put it back together so I can do the rest.  I certainly have no Palais Royale tools, but I do have some lovely bone ones that Phillip has carved.  But it is far from having a padded tray full of lovely tools.  Just for now, it will be enough to get the rotten veneer off the frame and get it glued together.  I am thinking that it will not have any veneer replaced.  Rather, I will cover it with muslin and gesso and polychrome it like the ones they call "Chinoisserie".  That will stabilize the box and maintain a period look to it.  We will see what comes.  Right now the fun is having a head full of ideas and a project of Great Potential.

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