The little box story

Little boxes pique curiousity. From opening elements to predictable shapes to possibilities that exist for all manner of treatments, I’m drawn to small containers because of their potentiality. 

Everything about the 3” x 2.75” window box met my criteria for wonderful, including its matte bronze color.

I envisioned an altar/prayer box filled with inspiring elements and hanging from handmade chain.

The meditative aspect of chain tames the wolves in my mind. Fascinated with red brass’s propensity to look like copper when hit with flame,  I wrapped, sawed and soldered oblong links.

Each link segment — my segments consist of three links comprised of a long oval and two smaller jump rings, each soldered shut — created an additional picture of unique proportion. As I attached segments with smaller jump rings, I envisioned the chain displaying its yet-to-be-completed prayer box focal. Meanwhile, my production line soldering continued.

Somewhere from a source unknown, I remembered: “Hear the call, follow your path, execute, and repeat.”

Little box featuring hand made red brass chain and various elements creates surprise and delight for its owner

Handmade chain frames box

Can chain provide an analogy for life? It seems to flow. There’s no real prediction of how each piece fits, what makes it attractive in my book, is the random aesthetic. I shut out the sound of voices and concentrated on sawing, soldering and finishing my links. Read more about my handmade chain in this post.

By the end of a three hour stint I’d completed more than 12 segments of chain, enough for  a necklace to hang easily to an adjustable length of 20-24 inches. It took no more than a glance at the empty window box to know my chain had a mission and purpose. Another snippet (author also unknown) came to mind:

“Your intuitive filters become tuned to ideas and inspiration that relate to the goal.”


I treated the background with coordinated color from sharpies in purple, gold and blue. After I measured and cut cardboard to fit, I transferred my sizing marks to Lacy’s Stiff Stuff, a base for bead embroidery. The small piece took on a life of its own. 

Little box takes on large life

I added elements for meaning: Quan Yin, the goddess of compassion, a beaded Swarovski crystal representing light, stars, shibori silk shaped like a sheaf with a peyote-stitched detail highlighted with cup chain. Around the sides I sewed in gentle vintage daggers – reflecting hues of purple, green, or pink, depending on the light.

As each new idea birthed, I inserted it into the box and squinted my eyes for critical viewing. After several such tweaks the little prayer box was complete. I covered the backside in red leather and signed and dated the piece.

Instead of gluing, I snugged the altar into the prayer box so the words could be revealed to its eventual owner. In gold metallic, I etched a heart and a few words that described my outlook: blessed, grateful, loving, joyful, creative.

It was done. 

As is my practice, I spoke enthusiastically about my latest creation, sharing pictures with my friends. The joy of making and its process was complete. It was time to find a new home for my little box.

Do you sell your favorite pieces? 

2 thoughts on “The little box story”

  1. The bronze copper links add a stunning touch, Mary Ellen. This piece would make me mindful of what really matters, that inner connection that is most meaningful. I look forward to a video of you in your studio or collaborative efforts where you harness your thirst for learning new technique. I love the pieces you designed for me – as do others who compliment me on them.

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