I lie in bed sometimes, my eyes closed and my mind letting go of the details of the day, when out of the darkness comes a shape. The shape is usually something I’ve seen that day, something my conscious mind ignored but my subconscious cataloged for later use. If I let my mind dwell on that shape, it expands and begins to take on definition. If, in my mind, I overlay the shape with the sparkle and chatoyancy of abalone or mother of pearl, it becomes an idea. I’ve been known to jump out of bed and run out to the shop at moments like that, spreading out dozens of pieces of abalone and pearl onto a board, excited in the attempt to clarify the image that has disturbed my ability to sleep.
This box, made of pre-embargo Honduras mahogany, came into existence in such a manner. The idea of the top panel proceeded with my gluing each piece of hand-cut abalone and pearl onto a piece of paper that I’d colored with brown shoe polish. The rest of the box, with its custom-made inlay of leopardwood and ebony, defined itself as I went along. The final pleasure I experienced in making this box was watching the velvet-lined, piston-fit tray slide silently into place against the moiré silk interior. At such moments, I am in awe of what the mind can translate to a person’s hands, especially mine.