14th c Inspired Wooden Elevation Box

When I received word that a good friend of ours was getting elevated, I began the marathon that was this project. I would’ve loved to make it more period appropriate, but unfortunately with the time constraint, secrecy, and my lack of researching experience, that piece of this gift had to suffer. I tried to make it as simply as I could. Modernities include a drill, table saw, sand paper, wood glue, nail brads, stains, and polyurethane. Otherwise, the carving was all done by hammer and chisels. All told, I estimate completion took 5 solid weeks of daily work, for about 6-8 hours each. Ninety percent of that undoubtedly was the carving, sometime broken down to the 1/2 hour morsel I could get during my lunch break at work–having tolerant coworkers and a woodshop accessible on a daily basis was an incredible asset.

The images I needed to transfer were complicated enough that cutting out a stencil would’ve been much more time consuming than I had wanted. Instead, I drew the pictures on paper, then centered it over the desired board, and retraced the drawing with pressure in order; this made an indented copy in the wood that I could then trace with a pencil for better definition. Over the course of the project, I became much more familiar with best practices in order to avoid unwanted chips and damage.

The walls and lid are from maple, as a symbol of Sir Richard Larmer’s mundane homeland (Canada), and the oak of the base is to symbolize the stalwart conviction we ask of all our knights. Two of the panels host his coat of arms: a boar’s head, and three water drops with a single ermine symbol from the fur on his heraldry. For the water droplets, the middle one being a negative instead of positive carving is meant to symbolize the gaps our knights are supposed to fill–whether it’s a service that needs doing, or a moral that’s weakly represented, or just a show of strength when morale needs boosting.

The third side is the modified coat of arms of Edward the Black Prince. Sir Richard’s persona would have most likely fought with him in the 100 Years War in France, and so this was an appropriate choice as a historical representation. My lacking skill and time required the complexity of the actual coat of arms be scaled back to what you see.

Lastly, the fourth panel marked a significant point in Sir Richard’s mundane history, with his serious injury at Æthelmearc War Practice. He had once remarked to me that rejoining Ealdormere on the battlefield after recovering sparked a fire in him, how healing it was to be “running with the Wolfpack again.” This last panel was for that obstacle overcome.

7 Responses

  1. Baroness Aranwen Ap Rhys Verch Gwalter

    Very nicely done! I enjoyed reading your commentary.

  2. Madoc Arundel

    Good afternoon. I was very interested in your entry as I have always been fascinated by wood carving even though I have no skill in that particular area.

    Thank you for including the link to the photo gallery on FB. I very much appreciate seeing the project throughout the manufacture process, and you did an excellent job of photo-doc’ing that process.

    I appreciated your explanation of not just your choice of patterns, but your choice of wood as well. A finished piece always seems to have more meaning when such considerations are made.

    I would have liked to see a more detailed explanation of your processes… the tools you used, how you worked the carvings, most – I am interested in learning how you avoided chipping, especially in the tight spots. I would also have liked to see more information on the finishing techniques – both the smoothing of the chiseled areas and the overall finish (lacquer, oil, whatever.) I would also have liked to see some references to period examples of small, tabletop boxes.

    Overall, the piece is quite exquisite. The use of wood retaining its natural flaws, the staining/finish bringing out the grain, and the obvious care and attention that went into the relief work all combine to make this a piece to treasure.

  3. Lady Ilaria of Delftwood

    The symbolism on this is beautiful, and I like how you heightened it through your carving techniques with the negative and positive carving.

  4. Katja

    What an interesting, striking-looking piece!

  5. Iohn

    An excellent piece! I was at Richard’s elevation, and whilst I am relatively new to the SCA, he has always struck me as the epitome of Chivalry. Your work shows a lot of careful thought, and a desire to create something with more than one level of meaning & inspiration.

    Maple can be a difficult wood to carve, very well done on that. I too would have liked to have seen more of the tools used to do the carving, and perhaps details of how you handled background areas (especially the small ones, they always bring me to grief!).

    Yours, THL Iohn Spooner

  6. Queen Liadain

    Beautifully crafted – as is everything you do! I am so very impressed at your seemingly boundless talents. I really enjoyed the many pictures and description of your process. Thank you for your artistry!