Rob Artman Fine Wood Boxes

The Art of Containment

Rob's ever changing collection of boxes and chests. Finely crafted from beautiful domestic and exotic woods, with careful joinery and the occasional flight of fancy. 
Browse for the perfect gift for someone special, a memory chest for your family treasures, or a one-of-a-kind adornment for your home.
Many pieces, especially commissioned pieces, can be personalized.

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This is Rob

I've been a wood worker/wood carver for a long time. Mostly two-by-fours at first. When I turned to art and craft I spent about ten years carving masks inspired by the art of Northwest Coast native peoples and contemporary New Zealand Maori woodcarvers. For the past ten or twelve years I've concentrated more on traditional joinery and exploring the possibilities of wood, color, and carving in hand-built chests and boxes.

I grew up a "military brat." My father was an army doctor, a WW-II veteran, and in the early 1950's we lived at Ft. Knox, Kentucky. My mother -- an independent soul if there ever was one -- had taken an interest in tole painting and Pennsylvania Deutsch folk art. She managed to cadge a beat up wooden storage chest from the quartermaster warehouse on the base and set about decorating it (oil paints) with rearing unicorns and unlikely wildflowers. After a long day of shagging four kids and keeping house, she would paint into the wee hours in blessed peace and quiet.

Over the years that sturdy old chest has moved around a lot, serving as bench, coffee table, step stool, whatever. It is now thoroughly chipped and worn. But it is still functional, still beautiful, and I have it in my family room. I'm sure that chest was the genesis of my fascination with all sorts of containers.

Wherever I go -- a museum, an antique shop, someone's home -- it's always the interesting container that catches my eye. In my work I use hardwoods, softwoods, and reclaimed materials native to the Pacific Northwest. I use other North American hardwoods, too, as well as some exotics. Joinery is accomplished with a combination of power and hand tools. All carving is done with traditional gouges and chisels. And for color I like traditional, old-style milk paint and a "layered color reveal" technique.

My goal with each piece I build is to transform the fundamental utility of a simple chest or box into something more. Something strong and beautiful. Something like that old chest with the prancing unicorns -- and the memories.