This little box combines a lot of things I’ve been playing with over the past year or so.

Firstly, it’s a shrink pot. That means that the sides are carved from one solid piece of green wood. The bottom, made from dried oak, is inserted before drying. The sides shrink around the lid making a tight seal, hence the name “shrink pot”. These are usually round, but I wanted to give it a sliding lid so it needed to be square. A bit trickier, but feasible.

The lid is a piece of robinia burl with a live edge. A burl is a wild growth in a tree, a bit like a cancer. They’re a bit more work to finish, but the spectacular grain pattern is worth it.

The box itself is finished with urushi, also known as Japanese lacquer. This is the sap from the Japanese lacquer tree, which cures under specific circumstances. If you don’t cure it just right, it can cause allergic reactions. It takes quite a bit of practice to master the process of using urushi. A glossy finish like on this box takes over 10 layers of the lacquer, which all need to be cured properly.