(You can view more photos here.)
Crafting a beautiful, heirloom quality piece for a loved one has been one of the greatest rewards in woodworking. There is something special in creating a work of art from something that you dreamed up in your mind and seeing it through to completion.
Most of us have created a work of art in school. For example, a painted handprint, turned into a turkey, and made into a card to bring home to mom and dad. The hand turkey is not only special to mom and dad, but to the child who created it. It is something special and unique and cannot be replaced by any other turkey.
As my eldest daughter, Kimberly, was in her final year of college, I knew that I wanted to make her something that was not only unique, but something that would be as significant as her graduation day itself. After much thought, I decided that a hope chest was in order. The only caveat was that my daughter was an art major. Hence, I felt obliged to stir her artistic interest by creating something that conveyed artistry in itself. I drew up several designs and ultimately came up with the chest that you see in the photos.
I selected cherry and walnut for the chest and decided to give it an Asian theme. The legs and lid were designed to emulate Japanese architecture. On the front walnut panels, I carved in the Japanese symbols that represent “Faith, hope, and love” as derived from 1 Corinthians 13:13, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
The interior is lined with aromatic cedar, and the rails and stiles are dowel pinned to create not only a stronger joint, but also to add to the aesthetic quality of the piece.
I added a removable tray that can slide freely from side to side to add to its versatility. I also included two inlaid walnut butterflies on the lid. In all honesty, the butterflies were not part of the original design. During the building process I inadvertently gouged a chunk of wood out of the top surface. I conveniently placed a butterfly on that location and put a second one to cover another error. There were other mishaps in the building process that I learned from, but I will let you find those on your own!
Overall, this chest turned out rather nice. And even though there are some imperfections in the design and build, it is an accurate representation of its maker – full of imperfections! What makes this chest special is it represents my best effort in creating something special for my daughter who achieved a goal in which I am proud of. She has since married and has the chest at the foot of her bed. I can only hope that the chest will remain and perhaps be at the foot of my grandchildren’s bed someday, and even unto the next generation after that . . .
More photos of this piece can be viewed here.