Friday, January 18, 2008

A Lid for the Barber's Pole Box

Some days things flow smoothly and some days they don't. Today was one of the irksome latter type. Designing a lid for the Barber's Pole Box seemed as if it should have been easy but it was not.

The aim was to make the lid follow the contour of the base and compliment this with an appropriate twist at the top.

Making a top which was identical to the base, just shorter and wider, did not work. The problem was that the height of the American Letter sized sheet did not lend itself to this. Making the lid from a square didn't help either. In fact, it caused all kinds of headaches relating to how it interfaced with the twist design in the base. I got tangled up in complex divisions (ninths) and complicated foldings which just added bulk.

Once, when it seemed that I had got something that looked effective, it proved to be insufficiently sturdy: the lid came apart fairly easily.
My policy is to make boxes and containers that not only look good but lock well and don't present problems in use. In other words, they are designed to be functional art forms.

The process was not helped at all by the fact that I was using working paper which was left over from a set of mailed flyers we laser printed a couple of years back. It was stiff and horrible and tore under stress. By mid-morning my temper had began to fray to match to paper.

Finally, towards the end of the day, I came up with something which pleased me. By this time I had redesigned the base and re-thought the lid. The box-and-lid version of the base is now vertically symmetrical, slightly shorter and quite "tidy". It is also extremely sturdy, although a little bulky in places. The base is made, once again, from 4 sheets of American Letter paper (but the pattern will work with A4) and the lid is made from 4 slightly wider squares of paper. The lid is a little too snug, especially for thick paper. Instead of the specified 1/8" I would recommend removing about 3/16th of an inch from the width of the paper for the base.

The box-and-lid has won some "friends" already. Even my husband wants one. Apparently he thinks it will make a good piece to show to his workmates in explanation of what his "crazy wife" does with her "spare" time.

This is not a box for a beginning folder. Like it's maternal counterpart, both the box and the lid are difficult to assemble. Having made several of these things by now, I have discovered a few tricks which considerably help the assembly process, but they are hard to explain or draw. Diagramming this part of the procedure will almost certainly be added to my collection of origami nightmares.

Of course, some of my more talented readers may come up with something elegantly simple which I will wish I had thought of myself. One of the nice things about this art form is that enthusiasts are invariably quite willing to share their insights and expertise with other folders.

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