Tuesday, September 27, 2011



Recently I was asked to make a commissioned box as a 50th birthday gift. This box was going to be a surprise for Kaci Cronkite...a local Port Townsend woman, an adventurer, a writer, a sailor/wooden boat owner and my friend. Right away I knew this box would be different from the others I have made.

Kaci was born and raised in Oklahoma on a ranch where the wind was a daily part of life. That same wind moved she and a friend, Nancy Erley, as they circumnavigated the globe in a sailboat (1995-2001) and moves her today when she is aboard PAX, her 28' Danish Spidsgatter built in 1936. Wind seems to be the common denominator of Kaci's life. As an artist, I was intrigued by this notion of making a box about the wind....a subject that can't be held in your hand or easily drawn or depicted. This was going to be a challenge.

Kaci is also very into books and writing and it was decided that this box, even though it is wall hung, would resemble a book....this was a first for me. The cover and spine are photo etched red brass. The cover depicts Kaci's boat, PAX, navigating the windblown waves of a wheatfield....melding her past and her roots with the present. A narrow piano hinge mimics the look of the hinge on a book cover. The over all dimensions are 8 x 10 x 1.5 inches.

On the backside of the cover I have etched the Beaufort scale, a scale developed by Francis Beaufort in the 1800's for determining wind force. The wording of this scale is beautiful and poetic. I especially love this description.... "Large wavelets. Crests begin to break. Perhaps scattered white horses." I added moon phases above and below the scale to show the passage of time and Kaci's connection to the natural world.

The back wall is photo etched nickel. The map is a symbol of Kaci's world travels and her circumnavigation. I have placed a small magnet on the map and eventually a tiny bronze sailboat will be attached there. Right now Kaci is wearing that boat (made by local artist, Cavin Ritchie) around her neck on a cord.

The bag, under the map, contains various life tools necessary for the navigation of Kaci's journey...a compass to find one's way....a sextant....a length of rope....etc.

A list is included in the box....things to remember to take. Kaci can lean that against the back wall as a reminder.

Even the edges of the box are etched parallel lines in nickel that resemble the edges of the pages of the book.

I like to use Japanese yen coins as the hangers on many of my boxes. As I was doing this I was pleasantly reminded that there is a stem of wheat on one side. This seemed so perfect for Kaci's box and a fitting end to my journey of etching the wind.

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