April 2, 2014

Clint Work Bentwood Boxes

Lattimer Gallery received two new steam-bent boxes from Kwakwaka'wakw artist Clint Work this week. Both boxes represent Clint's acute attention to detail, and his cheeky sense of humour.

The first box is titled Cold Feet. It represents a dowry box, a gift that would commonly be given by one partner to another near the time of a formal wedding ceremony. These boxes would typically be finely carved and very valuable. This particular box is indeed finely carved, but a closer inspection will reveal that the lid has been left incomplete. A groove has been incised on each side, indicating that the lid was about to be carved out into a traditional "seat" shape, but the gift-giver stopped working before the box was complete. Perhaps it will be a long engagement. This charming box measures 5" x 4 1/2" x 4 1/2" and is available for $750.00 CAD.

Clint Work's Cold Feet Bentwood Box - $750.00 CAD

The second box is titled Tempting. Clint has gone to great efforts to carefully carve and tie-up this red and yellow bentwood box. It looks as though it contains something, and has contained something for some time. If you pick it up, you quickly realise that there is, indeed, something inside. It makes a quiet rattle, and rolls around inside of the box irregularly. Tempted to find out what it is? This box is retailing for $1,350.00 CAD, and it measures 7 1/2" x 7" x 7". 

Clint Work's Tempting Bentwood Box - $1,350.00 CAD

Bentwood boxes are unique to the Northwest Coast First Nations peoples of British Columbia. Traditionally, bentwood boxes were used for symbolic and practical purposes. The large chests with elaborate designs were often presented to honored guests during feasts or potlatches. They were also used as burial boxes for ancestors. More simply designed boxes were used for storage of clothing and household items, for transporting goods, cooking and to display important carvings. The design represented the clans and showed the rank, social status, individual wealth and spiritual power of the owner. They also portrayed legends or events in history. These boxes were prized by families and passed down to succeeding generations.

The ‘kerfing’ or bending form is made by selection of a thin, tight grained plank of red or yellow cedar. The wood is divided into four sections by carving a groove halfway through at the corners. The cedar plank is steamed, and then folded to form the four sides. The open ends are pegged together, the bottom piece is pegged to the side, and a lid is then tightly fitted over the top. The box is then carved and or painted. 

Lattimer Gallery always has a wide range of bentwood boxes available for sale. Please check our website for an up-to-date selection. Custom orders are welcome.

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