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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Episode #21: Prototype Goulet Writing Boxes

If you've been following some of my more recent posts, you know that I've been completely infatuated with antique writing boxes. I've been intrigued with them since the minute I discovered that they existed, and I want to revive them as a part of my movement to enhance the writing experience. I am inspired by a lot of the designs and ornamentation of the antique boxes, but I see a lot of room for improvement for these boxes to meet the needs of today's writing enthusiasts.

If you go back and watch my very first Ink Nouveau video, you'll see how messy my shop was, particularly in the half where my tablesaw and wood storage was. I was focusing primarily on pens (which don't take a lot of space). However, as soon as I started pestering my wife about writing boxes, I knew I'd have to do something about my shop. It's funny, I actually came up with a 'safe word' for my wife, whenever I want to talk about the writing boxes (which is almost all the time, every day), I always ask, "Box?", and if she says yes I can run my thought by her, otherwise it has to wait ;) We have a system down....if you were around me for a while, you'd want the same thing!! I get pretty passionate at times, some might say obsessive!

So I spent all last week cleaning up my tools and my shop, and repurposing much of the shop to do box making, which is quite a bit different than making pens. You can see how well I did in the video (though most of it hardly shows).

On to the prototyping.....I start out using Google Sketchup (AWESOME!!!). I can get 3D views of the boxes I want to make, to see if they'll work aesthetically, and get my exact dimensions and angles with ease.

The next step I take from there is to cut up some cardboard and tape it together in the shape of the writing box, so I get an idea of what the overall size and shape of the box will be.

Finding a pleasing box size in real life, the next step is for me to make a rough prototype out of wood. This will not only give me a more realistic feel for the use of the box, but I use 1/2" plywood so that I will have an idea of the outside dimensions and inside dimensions of the box. I opted to use 1/2" plywood because 1/2" would be the thickest wood I'd use, and the plywood will be a consistent thickness, also less expensive than hardwood since it's just for a prototype.

The antique box that I wanted to model my first prototype after was the one you see here in the picture. The outside dimensions are 16" x 10" x 3.7"(2.5" in front) when closed. When building the plywood prototype, I discovered that with the ink and pen storage in the back of the box, there would only be enough room to fit 1 or 2 tablets of paper (50-100 sheets), which is a little tight. I wouldn't have been able to visualize this without a physical prototype. I'm considering extending the height of the box by 1/2"-1" overall, to increase the storage capacity.

So that's what's going on for me right now with my boxes. Keep in mind, I have a 2-month old son, and business I'm operating, and working on cleaning up my shop and doing these boxes, along with continuing to produce Ink Nouveau videos....I'm a busy guy, but I'm doing what I love and my passion fuels me!!

I want to know your feedback with these boxes.....the hardest part is the prototyping, the fun part will be when I start assembling them and I get to do the fancy ornamentation that I ultimately envision. I am open to any and all suggestions about how to make the most relevant and useful writing boxes for today's writing, so by all means email me or post here in the comments to give me your feedback.

Link to YouTube for iPhones and full-screen viewing.

15 comments:

  1. Brian -

    Wow! You do have passion--you're already working w/ prototypes. I like what I see so far and like what you've outlined -- 3 sizes. I'll be interested to see more as things develop!

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  2. I've got to start saving my shekels!

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  3. This is pretty sweet. I'm looking forward to seeing the desktop model.

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  4. i can visualize you making pen boxes with brass corners and latches complete with numerous hidden compartments. Carry on.

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  5. I have several of these writing boxes. To save space and weight inside all of the interior seperations are made with 1/4 to 1/8 inch wood at the most.

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  7. Very cool! I've wanted a writing box for ages. I can't wait to see the finished product.

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  8. Looking awesome, and I applaud the resurrection of writing boxes! If I had my druthers, the design would be such that it's as enjoyable to write on the top of the closed box as it is to use the writing surface of the open box.

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  9. Thanks so much for the suggestions everyone! Sadly, I had to abandon this project a while ago. The level of craftsmanship needed to make these was far beyond what I have, I discovered. Perhaps one day I will pick it up again, but it's going to be a long, long time before that happens :(

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  10. Thanks so much for the suggestions everyone! Sadly, I had to abandon this project a while ago. The level of craftsmanship needed to make these was far beyond what I have, I discovered. Perhaps one day I will pick it up again, but it's going to be a long, long time before that happens :(

    ReplyDelete
  11. I have several of these writing boxes. To save space and weight inside all of the interior seperations are made with 1/4 to 1/8 inch wood at the most.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I've got to start saving my shekels!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Brian -

    Wow! You do have passion--you're already working w/ prototypes. I like what I see so far and like what you've outlined -- 3 sizes. I'll be interested to see more as things develop!

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  14. I like the idea for these writing boxes, but I would want one to hold a significant amount of ink bottles. Maybe that's a new project: ink storage and ink cabinets?

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  15. http://www.hygra.com/visualwrite.html is a site on writing boxes. Thought you might enjoy, I tried leaving it on your utube site, but had to break it up.

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