Saturday, November 5, 2011

Of Hat Boxes, Dirt Roads, and How I Got Started With Marquetry

Dust clouds on the horizon
Welcome to country living!  Now for those who have the good luck to live on a paved road, that faint haze seen in the background of this picture will be an unknown factor.  Sometimes I think about the dust bowl of the '30's and although my dust issue isn't that bad, there are days that it feels that way.  We always joke around here that we have three seasons, Ice, Mud, and Dust.  In the past few years so many "refugees" from the city have moved out here that the road gets huge amounts of stock car mamas racing down the road and raising huge clouds of dust.  I still haven't figured out why they want to beat their vehicles up driving that fast on a road that is like driving on a railroad track it has so many chatters and pot holes, but they do and so every evening we have this haze that looks rather picturesque along the horizon - so misty, dream-like, blurring the view with it's caress of fog, that is until you realize it is dirt.

So what's a girl to do?  You can't store anything that isn't wrapped in plastic or it gets so dirty that it becomes unusable.  Now, I am a hat lover.  I love all manner of old vintage or vintage inspired finery and keeping it clean and wearable became a nightmare.  So....I bought some real kitchey Hat boxes covered in a really nice paper with a sprigged floral design on them.  Only problem the dust made them look horrible in a very short while.  How do you keep paper covered boxes from getting just grim?  Simple.  You cover them with wood.

Now I had never tried to do any marquetry.  I had a cabinet shop for years and we used lots of veneer on cabinet end panels and finished backs but truthfully - large pieces of veneer put on with contact cement was one of my own personal "boogie men" and I always hated it when I had to help stick veneer.  Now I had this brilliant idea of sticking it on a box.  Add into it that me and a kraft knife never got along all that well either.  So for the first try, I cut the veneer scraps that I gleaned from the shop with a scissor.  I'm a seamstress, I have lots of practice with a scissor.  I could cut with a scissor, but it was nearly impossible to get the seams between the pieces tight enough.  I had to finally take the plunge and make friends with a kraft knife.  That was 10 years ago.  The kraft knife has almost become an extension of my hand....who knew that something I was really not that good with could become such a part of me?

tools of the trade

Now I collect veneer like many people collect stamps.  All kinds of wonderful woods waiting to become beautiful, functional storage that can be dusted like fine furniture.

Hat box side view

newest hat box ready to spray
In the book, Callings written by Gregg Levoy, he writes about how sometimes callings are things that make no sense to us at the time - like me having to cut veneer with a kraft knife or even work with veneer at all since for a long time it was my nemesis.  Sometimes - that's just God having a sense of humor!!  Although I consider art itself as my calling in all of the myriad of expressions I've jumped into, Marquetry just sort of tip toed into my life without my intending to pursue it.  Now it has become a true passion.  What possibilities can come into your life, sneaking in without you even noticing?  Possibilities you never dreamed of?


  1. I am like you - who knew when I started this farm and my love of furry creatures that I was highly allergic to sheeps lanolin. Just hugging my dear one's made welts on my skin. Who knew that I was born to be a spinner. I never even thought of spinning until I touched their fleece, welts and all and heard my soul speak out and say "Grace this is what you came here to do" So Yes, I understand how you are guided to just what needs to be let out of your soul in the strangest of ways. LOVE your boxes..

  2. Amen...I didn't want to be a nurse and when I first started working at the hospital...I cried and dreaded my shifts so bad but over the years I know God had a purpose for me and just quit fighting it. I think He rewarded me with the enjoyment of a flock of sheep.
    Your boxes are beautiful!