On Saturday, I went to an all-day class at Gallery Shibui on how to make a “Magic Box.” The woman teaching the class, Stacey Kirby, used to work in the rare books preservation department at one of the university libraries, where she spent a lot of time making enclosure boxes for the books, but she’s a studio art person, so she took it further and began producing some fabulous works of craft art. She now works for the history museum as well, building displays and doing period costume creation and restoration. (Doesn’t her life sound awesome?)
In the class, she took us through all the steps of making the boxes, from cutting the walls, base, and lid out of book board (an excellent way to build wrist strength), to measuring and cutting all the appropriate lengths of bookcloth and decorative paper, to gluing and assembling the final product. We were there from 10am until about 6:30pm, although the class was scheduled to end at 5, and it was great.
What makes this box a “magic” box is the way the lid opens. It functions much like a Jacob’s Ladder toy, hinging in both directions via strips of cloth-backed paper. When you open it one way, two strips lift with the lid to show the compartments at either end of the box. When you open it the other way, those two strips stay down and the middle strip lifts with the lid to display the center compartment. Like so:
Notice that the direction you open the box also changes the side of the cloth/paper strip that you see. There’s clearly a lot of room to play with the designs seen on all the different views possible in this box, but we didn’t have a huge amount of time to play around too much while also learning to put everything together. The teacher had brought in some really neat examples of other ones she had done, but I didn’t get any pictures. All in all, though, I’m pretty pleased about how my box turned out. I think I’m going to take it to work and use it on my desk. I think this will mean I need to upgrade my pencil cup, though.