The Sewing Box

Sometimes the simplest stories and acts can be the most touching. We discovered this essay by Burlington, Vermont furniture maker Erin Hanley the other day and pulled it out of the archive…

“This little cabinet is something I sent off to my mother a couple of weeks ago. My mom is a quilter and she had saved the four drawers from her own mother’s sewing cabinet and wanted a way to use them. My grandma was from Naples. She never got much beyond pidgin English, but she was an amazing seamstress, and an amazing woman. So, even though this was a small project, it was nice to work on something with a little family history.”

Incorporating a family heirloom

“Though it’s not a very complicated little thing, I was really happy with how well the finish on the carcase ended up matching the original drawers. The box is made of rift-sawn red oak plywood. To match the underlying tones on the original, I first applied a water based yellow dye. Whenever I use dye, it is at this point that I usually despair, and convince myself that I have just ruined whatever I am working on. But, the dull, chalky, technicolor phase is a necessary shock that one just needs to pass through. Following the dye, I applied a walnut stain, and then grainfilled the whole thing to mimic the years of grime on the originals.”

“A sentimental project that I’ll probably end up inheriting myself someday. Who knows, maybe I’ll even take up sewing…”

Erin Hanley Fine FurnitureWhat a sweet story and charming piece. We love Erin’s candor about the project and the process. Does it give you any ideas about a family heirloom that you’d like to re-purpose, repair and give a new life?

This furniture maker’s portfolio is impressive, full of rich tones and patterns, relying on traditional joinery, with an energy you’d want to bring into your home. We encourage you to take a look!


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