Box and Beyond, Part 1

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Words and photos: Andrew Potocnik

So often people relate to wood pieces because of the ‘wow’ factor. Brilliant colour, sensational grain, or simply ‘I didn’t know you could do that with wood!’. In this series of boxes I sought to inspire my students to seek out ways of converting simple box forms into interesting, individualised creations by using paints, textures and lots of imagination. These boxes can be quick, simple and lead to discoveries that open exciting directions for future work. They focus less on technique and more on exploration.

Bandsawn box

This form of box construction was developed into a signature style by Arthur ‘Espenet’ Carpenter in the 70s and early 80s. It opened new exploration into woodworking. Cutting away rather than building up allows almost any form to be created without the need for difficult joinery.



It’s an example of releasing a box form from a block of wood. I used paint and texturing techniques to reduce the need for fine sanding and to create tactile and visual interest. With the aid of a wire brush fitted to a chuck on my lathe, the soft radiata pine surface not only became inviting to touch but also enabled me to experiment with new painting techniques.

Dovetailed box

Aiming to inspire students to look beyond the obvious, I involved them in exploring outside the confines of our basic material, radiata pine. Why not use texture and colour to enhance a simple material and form? In this case I ran the external faces over the bandsaw to create a ‘raw’ surface.


The interior was worked with a variety of paint colours and paint textures. To add interest to the lid I explored the effects of commonly available materials. How can strips of bamboo be used to create a different effect? Can you make use of its colour, notches and blemishes? The finish is simple, but layering colours then cutting through them led to new discoveries.


Initially I struggled for an original latch concept, but looking through cherished off-cuts I realised that a small slice of a burl could be put to use, combined with a small piece of bamboo. I was loosening up!

Andrew Potocnik is a wood artist and teacher. See


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