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stone mosaic project #4: petrified stone box (very easy)

2011-08-13 - 9:14 a.m.

© 2011 by elaine radford

This project is almost too easy to demand a tutorial but I'm extremely pleased with the reward to effort ratio. My friend had a horrid truck stop/dollar store veneer box with a misquoted Old Testament Bible verse on it. He's a Catholic, like most old New Orleanians, and he was pretty perplexed about what to do with it, so he tossed it on the pile of other un-used junk. After we returned from Vegas, we were poking around looking for mosaic ideas -- most of the projects he would like me to learn to do are ADVANCED projects and I'm trying to work up my skills at a measured, slow pace -- and suddenly we spotted this neglected box.

"What the hell is that supposed to mean?" he asked, shaking his head as he read the inscription. I'm from a Presbyterian background and I don't know why, but for some reason, this means that I'm the one in this friendship who is supposed to be able to translate weird Bible verses. Something about all those years of Sunday school, you know. However, in this case, I'm pretty sure the verse was mistranslated into English because it almost, but not quite, made sense. Plus, I think I have a decent acquaintance with the Bible, but I couldn't place this one...

"You know, I can fix that," I said.

"Take it," he said.

One of my swapping partners on the Rock Tumbling Hobby boards is a guy who calls himself "Snuffy," who specializes in swapping out the slabettes that he's polished in the tumbler. Some of the slabettes are perfect for making fine cabochons, and others are destined to become wire-wraps, but there is a large category of slabettes that have tiny imperfections that make them not-quite-right for fine jewelry but marvelous for foofy genuine stone mosaic tile. As I've tried to reawaken my mosaic skills, I've made a petrified wood mosaic picture frame, a concrete, petrified wood and bloodstone birdbath, and a bloodstone and red jasper/petrified wood TV tray, all partly with the help of mosaic tiles that I've cut from "Snuffy's" slabettes. Don't blame him for my funky imperfections. Just appreciate the fine quality that his genuine polished stone slabs have added to my projects.

OK, to the box. It was, according to the sticker on the bottom, "made in China," and it was a very thin veneer over what? Is it called chipwood? It's some kind of composite material but not papier maché. The original top held a cheap aluminum tile inscribed with the aforementioned badly translated Bible verse. It was glued in place with a cheap glue that gave way as soon as I shook a screwdriver in its general direction.

Since the box had never been used, it was pristine on the inside. Do you see the two tiny felt black buttons or discs on the inside of the lid? There were four more such felt buttons on the bottom, to make the feet, but two of them had already peeled off, and the other two weren't far behind, since I easily scratched them off with a fingernail. DH provided me with four nice plump rubber feet from an over-supply given to him by one of his robotics customers.

He thinks if need be, you could get those feet at Radio Shack but if for some reason you can't find the feet you need to complete your project, please contact me and I'll try to get more information from his suppliers.

There's more wait than worry with this project. I collected several nice-looking pieces of polished petrified wood slabs, most of which had small imperfections or pockmarks that would make them impractical for jewelry. I knew that I wanted the large piece of Arizona paint wood, and I trimmed the other pieces of assorted petrified woods to fit the box top. I glued them down with Weldbond, grouted them with a non-sanded grout that I'd colored to a pinky Phoenix, Arizona colored earthtone. After the project had dried, I decided that I didn't like the pinky desert-colored grout, so I painted over the grout with a light brown acrylic paint using a small paintbrush that I cut to fit. Some, but not much, of the pinky shows through, which I think works fine for this project, since the stones in question are also of variable colors. After a suitable rest period, I then hit the project with mosaic sealer. Since I plan to use the box indoors, I suppose you could skip this step, but we have wine drinkers and high humidity down here in New Orleans, so I don't see the harm in an added boost to the project's ability to resist water.

Now comes the ethical dilemma. I sort of heisted the box on the theory that I would use it to practice my mosaic skills but now I wanna keep it because it came out looking so cool. I happen to know that my friend is in dire need of a new wastebasket in his guest room, so I'm wondering if I can barter a deal where I make him a wastebasket and keep the box. Tee hee.

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