In 2008, I discovered that boxes were a way to tell a story differently. It also allowed me to work with materials other than paper as well, including making my own felt, assembling glass microscope slides, working with wax and twigs and pins and found objects. I could build a cumulative experience: each object contributed to the story in its own way. A place to contemplate, read, and play.
In 2012, I devoted the year to making what I called "Curiosity Boxes."Although more recently I've returned to my letterpress and printmaking roots, eight of my box projects caught the eye of April Michelle Bratten at the literary magazine Up the Staircase Quarterly. She has featured them in November's issue here. It's a lovely and thoughtful magazine. And I'm not just saying that.
There are more of my boxes on my website here and here and here and here.
Every semester I give a box project as the penultimate assignment. We start by looking at first lines and last lines of short stories and imagining what happens in between. We write our own first lines and trade with each other to write last lines. We talk about what objects might be in a box with them that would enhance the experience and tell more of the story.
Another blog post with that idea is here.
A box with a shelf in the lid, both mine and a student's box project is here.
Some highlights of student's box projects from past years, below.