A Pretty Girl and Her Jewelry Box by Dennis Young


Dennis Young

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I was fortunate to have an interesting commission come my way not too long ago, and from the states. A friend asked me to make a jewelry box for his young daughter, to be shown to her upon it's arrival, but actually will be given to her to use when she is older... perhaps turning 18? I considered it a thoughtful and loving gift. The order also came at a time when I really needed the work, due to the earthquake and consequences that had resulted shortly before. Thanks, Paul!

I had been keeping a small supply of what is called Enju wood here, in my possession for at least fifteen years, but had never used any of it.

It is a legume, not so unlike Black Acacia and in the same family I believe, but is a bit softer and a warm brown color. No previous experience working with the species, but I knew it by reputation as a material sometimes used by an old occupation of woodworkers in Japan, called "sashimono".

These are people that specialized in making smaller items in wood, from scroll cases to certain types of furniture, most frequently in a traditional style, but in many instances also having unique detail embellishments, often very intricately made articles that required a major investment in time to produce. The level of skill and fine degree of execution is inspiring if one cares to look into it.

There are fine examples to be seen, though sadly, the demand for such goods is in limited supply today, and the number of people still involved in the trade, now few. I suspected that Enju is fairly easy to work and can take on fine crisp details, which turned out to be the case. I can only imagine that the color of the wood will become deep and rich with time and use.

I enjoyed this project immensely, from the initial conceptualizing to the finish execution. The design is pretty simple, but there is some subtlety, as in the slightly curving sides from top to bottom. It wasn't without a degree of difficulty to make, working within the limited allowable size, and I was quite pleased with the way it turned out.

My customer seems happy too, sent a photo of Whylie that I love, taken on her birthday! It was a lucky coincidence that the jewelry box arrived shortly before. The box is really not very large, but Whylie being next to it makes it appear so. I am confident that in a few years, the proportions will be better matched!

I do hope that she will get many years of enjoyable use from what I made for her. In thirty or forty years, I would very much like to see how it has aged....Whylie as well, alas.
Dennis Young

Hotaka, Japan
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November, 2012


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