Inlaid Jewelry Box

jewelrybox-150x150Shell and wood combine to decorate this delightfully detailed piece.

by Autumn Doucet
pages 35-41

I lie in bed sometimes, my eyes closed and my mind letting go of the details of the day, when out of the darkness comes a shape. If I overlay the shape with the sparkle and chatoyance of mother-of-pearl and paua abalone, it becomes an idea. I’ve been known to jump out of bed and run out to the shop at moments like that, spreading out dozens of pieces of shell material, excited in the attempt to clarify the colors of the image and match it all to a particular wood. That’s how this jewel-in-the-crown box began.

I know; we all love wood. That’s why we read this magazine. But for the time being, set aside your visions of wood grain and joinery and join me on a trip to the exotic land of mother-of-pearl.

We’re going to take six small pieces of mahogany, add the shell inlay and some simple wood inlays then turn it all into a box that causes heads to snap around. It may be awhile before you arrive at the point of actually making the box because to cut mother-of-pearl you need patience, time and an attention to detail. So we’ll set aside wood prep until later and start by making the inlays.

Blog: Discover other top-notch boxes, including the author’s prize-winning design.
Video: Learn how to shade, trim and assemble veneer used to make a corner fan inlay.
Video: Discover how another shell-inlay artist works.
To Buy: Learn many ways to build boxes in “Box Builder’s Handbook,” by A. J. Hamler.

From April 2014 issue, #210

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