Do you recognize the scene on the scrimshaw piece above? If you're anywhere near my age (67), you may have read The Owl and the Pussycat as a child. It's a charming poem/story written in 1871 by Edward Lear:
The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea
In a beautiful pea green boat,
They took some honey, and plenty of money,
Wrapped up in a five pound note.
The Owl looked up to the stars above,
And sang to a small guitar,
'O lovely Pussy! O Pussy my love,
What a beautiful Pussy you are,
What a beautiful Pussy you are!'
Pussy said to the Owl,
'You elegant fowl!
How charmingly sweet you sing!
O let us be married! too long we have tarried:
But what shall we do for a ring?
'They sailed away, for a year and a day,
To the land where the Bong-tree grows
And there in a wood a Piggy-wig stood
With a ring at the end of his nose,
With a ring at the end of his nose.
'Dear pig, are you willing
to sell for one shilling
Your ring?' Said the Piggy, 'I will.'
So they took it away, and were married next day
By the Turkey who lives on the hill.
They dined on mince, and slices of quince,
Which they ate with a runcible spoon;
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
They danced by the light of the moon,
They danced by the light of the moon.
I've no memory of how or when I acquired this remarkable scrimshaw charm, but it seemed the perfect talisman to symbolize my marriage to Robert. We met April 11, 1997 at a photography workshop at the Coupeville Arts Center. What started as mutual interests and my appreciation for his wacky sense of humor, quickly developed into romance. By that Christmas, we had decided to make a life together and a few years later we married. In our mid and late 50s, it was the first marriage for both of us!
Although I've made several things for him in our years together, it took me until now to do a serious piece of bead embroidery for him. He loves boxes, tins, containers of any sort. So, one day when I found a small, wooden box in the craft department of JoAnn's Fabrics, I got the idea to create a bead embroidery and mount it on the lid of the box. You can see the work in progress and read about some of the symbolic elements here. Below is how it looks finished. (Click image if you'd like to see it enlarged!)
As the work progressed, I began to think it needed a higher quality box. Plus I wondered about the wisdom of putting the beading on top of the box where it would soon be buried in dust. One day it occurred to me that I could look on Etsy and maybe find a wood-worker who might offer something more suitable.
Voila!!! There are several fabulous wooden box makers selling on Etsy, but the one whose work seemed most right is Maurice Sewelson. You can check his treasure boxes here. This is the one that called my name most loudly. So, I wrote to Maurice to ask if he might be willing to custom-make a box that would have a tray sized to fit my beadwork. He agreed!!!! I sent him a picture of my beading and he sent pictures of wood he thought might look good with it. We chose bloodwood for the exterior and mahogany for the interior. Below is the finished box and a detail pictue of Maurice's beautiful carving and inlay work on the front.
Below are pictures of the box with my bead embroidery in the tray. The tray may be lifted out to reveal the full contents of the box. By the way, I didn't glue my beadwork to the tray... (Is anyone surprised?) I stitched the beading to a piece of black Ultrasuede. Then I used acid-free, double-stick tape around the edges to attach the Ultrasuede to the inside of the tray.
Robert now has a fine treasure box in which to keep some of his family heirlooms (his mother's watch and other items he's saved over the years). He says it's the nicest gift he's ever received!