The Memorial Box Carved by Richard Colbran

A request was received for an attractive memorial to a much-loved nurse, which should be of practical use. Her friends and colleagues had decided that it would be in the form of a “Comments” box to replace the cardboard one currently in use at the hospital where she had worked. They wanted the box to incorporate a carved mother owl and owlet as a decorative feature.

A design was developed in the form of a nesting box, with a slotted lid, and a side pocket to accommodate A5 size paper, on which the comments could be written.

It was decided to make the box from English oak of 12 mm thickness, except the front panel. This would be the relief carving of the owls, so would be lime wood. There would be an appropriate memorial plate on the lid. The oak would be unstained, and left as close to natural colour as possible.

The carved panel was made first, from a suitable illustration. The outline design was transferred to the wood using carbon paper, and the carving of the shapes completed. Feathering detail was then added, and the fluff on the baby owl was simulated with a fine veiner and a suitable punch.

The parts of the owls not to be stained were carefully painted with cellulose sanding sealer and allowed to dry, then spirit-based wood dye was applied overall and the excess dye wiped off with a clean cloth, leaving the sealed areas undyed. Pyrography was used to to add detail to the baby owl. Eyes were blackened with a fine felt tip pen.

As requested by the customer, the carvers name and date were pyrographed on the back of the carving, to be visible inside the box

The box was constructed with a simple glue and screw method, so that the edges of the sides and base formed an oak frame around the carving. A piece of oak was inserted across the top to complete the frame effect. Screws were counterbored and plugged with matching timber.

The lid was bevelled around the edges and a slot cut and bevelled, using a router. Hinge recesses were made and the hinges fitted.

A side pocket was made for commentpapers, and screwed and glued to the box side. The memorial plate was screwed to the lid..

The whole box, including the carving, was given three coats of spirit-based clear matt polyurethane varnish, then left to harden off, ready for use.

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