Custom Box with Family Crests

Custom San Lotano Toros for Maria Bissell closedRecently I received a request for a custom made box as a gift for a family member.  The design was to include two family crests, one on the lid and one inside, and the box needed to hold eight to ten pens.

I selected several boxes from my inventory and sent pictures.  A San Lotano Toros was chosen because it has a raised center panel suitable for the exterior artwork.  Also, my saddle style pen compartments was preferred.

The customer sent scans of the two family crests, both high resolution but from originals in poor condition.  Some time in Photoshop yielded very good cleaned-up versions which I overlaid on some digital vintage paper.  Then the crests were printed in the right sizes.

I sanded, stained, and varnished the interior of the box, which was originally bare wood, then lined the pen compartment with black microsuede and inserted the ten pen saddles with black microsuede linings.

Finally I attached the artwork and attached a 2mm foam pad to the bottom of the box.

Click on either image to open the gallery for a larger view:

Custom John Steinbeck Box

Steinbeck pen box_3From time to time I have added to my Great Writers series of boxes, which has included Cervantes, Mark Twain, Edgar Allan Poe, and C.S. Lewis (search “writers” to see examples).  Recently a Steinbeck fan asked me to create a box with that theme.

I’ve read Steinbeck, but did not have any solid ideas for how to represent him – yes, dark, but what else?  The design became a collaborative effort, with the customer providing favorite quotes, me combining them with Steinbeck images, and ideas being tossed back and forth via email.

This slide show displays some of our options:

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Eventually we settled on a plain black box with black interior, plus a Steinbeck photo and quotes inside the lid and his signature on the lid.  Very simple, definitely dark, and quite effective.

As I write this, the box is in transit to its owner in Australia.  He’s already seen photos, so I’m posting them here for anyone else to see.  We will add photos of the box in use with his pens as soon as we can…Click on any image to open the gallery.

Nigerian Theme

I received an inquiry from a person in Nigeria asking if I would work with him to produce a custom box with a Nigerian theme for his pens.  I’m always interested in custom orders, but this one was very special, being my first inquiry from the African continent.

After an exchange of several emails, we settled on a theme that invokes both ancient and modern Nigerian elements.  We chose an ancient ivory mask by the Edo peoples, probably 16th century AD, from Benin, Nigeria, combined with the modern-day flag of Nigeria as artwork for the top of the lid.

Inside the lid, we repeated the flag element, but superimposed a map of Nigeria and the handwritten initials of the owner.

The pen compartments continue the flag theme, lined in green and white, the colors of the Nigerian flag.

We chose a Fonseca cigar box for two reasons: first, it was the right size/pen capacity, and second, it had an unusual “frame” around a rectangular recess in the lid.  This would both frame and protect the artwork.

I think that the box turned out quite nicely and evokes just the right combination of feelings.

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Pen Box for Travel

This San Lotano Ovals box is specially fitted out per the customer’s request so that pens can be safely transported due to frequent moves between workplaces.  Internally, I simply added elastic loops to hold the pens in their individual black flocked compartments.  This prevents them from moving during transportation.

We also wanted to protect the box itself, so I commissioned my wife to create a protective padded envelope into which the box could be inserted for transportation.  She came up with some fabric with a rather “manly” appearance and used a military style button for closure.

I’m sure that we could create a similar carrying case for most any box.

San Lotano Oval in envelope San Lotano Oval partly into envelope San Lotano Oval pens with holddown elastic San Lotano Oval closed with envelope

Twin Corina Larks Double Decked Vintage Boxes

These two identical boxes were sent to me to be repurposed into fountain pen storage.  They are made of Spanish cedar and were very, very dried out.  I was not certain that I could do much with them, but with the backing of their owner, I cleaned them with mineral spirits and a soft cloth, then applied four coats of Minwax polyurethane varnish.  That dry wood just sucked the varnish in like a sponge for the first two coats!  I was careful to apply varnish to both sides of any surface to avoid warping.  I used the interior liners to create double decked trays and lined the trays and covered the dividers with wine red microfibre suede cloth.  I aimed for a sort of rustic look rather than a jewelry box style, and I think they worked out rather well.