Prayer Box


Prayer Box

Given as a Christmas present to a very dear friend.

This prayer box is made from camphor. It is about five inches in diameter and twelve inches tall. The lid separates just below the second gold ring. It took me four hours to turn the box and lid and about six times that to put on the finish.

I started with green wood. The camphor was cut into a blank and allowed to dry about two weeks. After the prayer box was turned I dried it using the microwave method. After the microwave treatment I let it set for about a week.

To finish the prayer box I first applied Min Wax sanding sealer and let it dry. crackelThe next step was a coat of latex gloss black paint which I let dry overnight. The next day I brushed on a liberal amount of Behr Premium Crackle solution to the box and lid but not the spiral handle. I let this cure for about two hours. It dries clear. I then applied a very heavy coat of tan satin latex paint. Within minutes the tan paint started to crack and slide around on the gloss black paint. When it dries it looks like very old paint – cracking and peeling. A day later I covered the whole piece with Min Wax Spar polyurethane and let it dry another day.

spiralThe next step was to gild the spiral handle with fake gold making sure about 20% of the black paint went uncovered. I also gilded the four flat beads on the piece making sure to completely cover the black paint. The fake gold gild was left to dry overnight. The next day a liberal solution of warm water, Cupric Nitrate and Ammonium Chloride was applied to the fake gold leaf on the spiral handle only, not the four flat beads, through a thin layer of cheese cloth and tissue paper. The solution soaked tissue and cheese cloth was left on the fake gold leaf  for about 15 minutes to induce a chemical reaction and turn the fake gold leaf to an aged bronze patina. After gently removing the soggy tissue paper and cheese cloth I let the piece dry over night. Go to to see more details.

Now things really got crazy. On the lid and box I randomly brushed on gilders size making sure not to get it on the gold flat beads. I also did not cover about 50% of the tan and black  crackeled latex paint. When the gilders size tacked up I applied copper leaf foil and burnished it on with wax paper for a solid stick. When I was satisfied with the “look” of it all I set it aside to dry overnight. The next day I did that chemical patina thing again on the copper leaf using a solution of warm water and sodium sulfide applied to the copper leaf through the tissue and cheese cloth. I was careful not to get any chemical on the gold flat beads. After about five minutes I removed the chemical sodden tissue and cheese cloth. I let the piece dry overnight and the next day covered the whole prayer box with Min Wax Spar polyurethane.

The next step was very slight random burning with my wood burning iron: to give it more age and the look of hard use. I repeated the copper leaf foil and sodium sulfide treatment on the lid and box two more times varying the amount of time I let the chemical reaction work. This made the layers of copper leaf at different degrees of tarnishing. After each treatment I covered the piece with Min Wax Spar Polyuretehne. When I was satisfied with the completed finish I coverd it all one last time with Min Wax Satin Polyurethene.closeup

PS. After each coat of Min Wax Polyurethene dreid I lightly sanded the piece with 320 grit sandpaper.

I learned this finishing technique from David Marks at a class I took at Woodcraft.

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