Aren't these boxes beautiful?
Well, yes I know I have a bit of a thing for boxes, but with boxes like I think it's understandable. Sadly not all of my boxes are as beautiful as this, and since I saw them I've been wondering about how I could wangle some of these for myself. As yet, I haven't managed it and the yellow handbag I saw put paid to one of these sewing boxes as a Christmas present.
It was at Made London in October where I saw a whole stack of these boxes and spent quite a while speaking to Murray the Shaker boxmaker, who's based in Romsey, Hampshire. He makes his boxes in the traditional Shaker way, without glue and using copper rivets and tiny wooden pins to fix the tops and bases to the sides. The swallowtail detail at the front of each box - that's the shaped design element - is more than just design; it helps prevent the wood splitting and helps spread the pressure where the wood bends.
As well as stacking to form a tower (see the last image below) the clever boxes also fit inside one another so if you're not using them they store easily too. They're available in American maple (the lighter colour shown) and red cherry which was a deeper, richer colour and I think my favourite, just.
Murray says they were the Tupperware of their day, now I'm wondering why Tupperware didn't just sell these instead? Anyway... The design dates back over two hundred years and their first use - by the Shakers - was as food storage containers, which soon became a must-have item in many American kitchens. I can see why, but surely too nice just for food?
The Shakers thought so too, and the bigger boxes were used for sewing and other practical purposes around the house. Murray makes and sells the larger sizes as dedicated sewing boxes (or as boxes for anything that you need compartments for I guess). At first glance you might think they're costly at £150 for the medium sized box and £200 for the larger box, but given the amount of work that goes into making these by hand in the traditional way, I don't think it's so bad.
And even so, they look a good way of storing your materials to me...