David Lader - Warrior's Dance Video

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Thursday, January 23, 2014

A Red Box Story

I recently fabricated and painted a box. Sounds rather mundane...

It all started when my daughter asked me to build her a play mailbox out of wood. She and I went to Home Depot and purchased some cheap plywood and some basic tools. She quickly lost interest in the project, and I thought it was fun to cut, nail, and sand the rough little piece... I think I made some little wood craft about forty years ago at summer camp - that was my prior experience.




Anyway, the construction remained fairly primitive, though I enjoyed imagining that it might evolve into something a bit finer...I began to countersink the little finish nails, fill in the rough surfaces with putty, and smooth the whole thing with ever-finer sandpaper.







Adding little hinges was a minor challenge, though it worked out well enough. The next step was fun...spraying several coats of white primer and watching all of the surfaces blend into one, clean and simple box...Still, no big deal, but it made me happy and got me out of my head a little each day...good value there...























Now the primer....................




































I put the box aside for a few weeks and got a crazy idea to finish it in the style of a traditional Swedish folk art called "Kurbits..."  I also decided to complete the craft by Christmas and give it to my wife as a gift. Why, in god's name, would I paint a wooden box Banner Red in a high gloss finish with white flowery looking things all over it?









My wife and I come from two very different worlds in certain ways, and I have rarely withheld my very low opinion of traditional Swedish folk decor with her... On a good day, we laugh about our different tastes - she's the Swedish "Country Bumpkin"and I'm the "Big City East Coast Art Snob..."








This is all very adorable when we've both had enough rest, and our wonderful kids aren't driving us crazy. Then there are those days when it's not so funny at all - I literally grit my teeth and roll my eyes at the folksy crafts that have been slowly and surely replacing what I thought was beautiful and original fine art... I know - get over yourself David - you've got issues, and your wife is right - lighten up and enjoy the ride a little...

It gets worse! I've been the Grinch who stole Christmas for years...


The decorations associated with that holiday have always been profoundly irritating to me, and my wife was practically born at the North Pole! She grew up in a part of Sweden where I think they invented the damned holiday, and Santa Claus lives in the next town over.


 She's always loved all the...you know...STUFF!!!
How will this marriage ever work you may wonder? OK - enough drama and hyperbole... The truth is that I've been working on being less selfish, my wife and kids love Christmas as much as anything, and I love them even more... Soooooo - I figured I'd make my wife a pretty red box and try to enjoy the holiday ...and that's just what I did.







My kids were very excited about watching this insanely challenging painting experiment proceed over a period of weeks right up until the day before Christmas - I had to spray paint countless times on many surfaces, practice incredible patience, follow directions, and not let my wife know what was up... I made countless mistakes, almost had to start completely over in several instances, and took a ridiculous amount of time trying to achieve the end product I made up in my head...

It's a miracle our five year old didn't blow the secret, and it's a miracle a didn't blow my own head off from frustration after several egregious errors... I learned the hard way about how various different types of paint do and do NOT mix! It was a remarkable experience watching fifteen hours of prior paint work bubble and peel within minutes of the "final application..." Asking for help, practicing patience, and following directions have never been among my strong suits. I thought it would be fun to just "wing it..." How hard could painting a box be, right? Making cheap plywood shine with a very deep and rich gloss was very difficult. After several coats of the white primer, I spent many days trying to figure out how to get the red gloss to "do it's thing..." Finally, after several failed attempts due to my impatience and lack of knowledge, I got it...

Next was the application of the white Kurbits design over the front, top, and side panels... I actually began asking for help with this step, as Christmas was fast-approaching... This was extremely delicate work, and I sent away to Sweden for a stencil to assist me in the process... Once the designs were completed, it was time to lock them in and deepen the rich gloss with Krylon Clear Sealer... Eight more coats, several more impatient mistakes, a bunch of light sanding and re-coating, and the project was done... I added some red felt lining to dress the piece up a bit, and my wife was very happy in the end...


Yes...that's a reflection of my hand...





The entire project was, in many ways, a reflection of how I've lived most of my life. I spent about sixty hours fabricating and decorating a box that would've taken me about ten hours had I stopped to ask for guidance, followed directions, and practiced a little patience... It's remarkable for me to consider how much different my life might look today had I made more choices as such through the years. How much less harm might I have caused myself and others? How many valuable resources would I have not squandered? While it's all interesting to consider, I'm more focused on what the future may hold as I continue to work on these lessons... The point is to continue growing along spiritual lines... It's in this way that I remain optimistic, and the quality of my mistakes will continually improve...

Peace


David Lader