The China Boxes

For Christmas 2016, I decided to go big and invite my parents to join me and my wife on a trip to Xi’an, China – flight and hotel included. Such a gift can of course not be delivered in a plain envelope, so I started to design and make two custom boxes that would hold the invitation letters.

I based the design on a jewelry box I had previously designed, but almost every detail was refined and improved. I also incorporated metal feet and corners into the design, adding spacers to ensure that no nails would protruded through the lid and reinforcing the bottom to support the feet fasteners.

I 3D printed the boxes using a material that looks and feels like somewhere between wood and clay. Due to under-extrusion when printing, the intricate patterns I designed on the inside of the boxes got a distinct texture in what I would call a happy accident.
On the inside of the lids, I also added my parent’s names, painting them black in an attempt to resemble Chinese calligraphy.

The nails for the feet and top corners were not hammered in, but melted in place using a wood burning iron, pliers and a good deal of patience.

The cores of the hinges were made using a clear PETG filament, slightly heated and flattened at the ends.

To top it off, I printed two miniature terracotta warriors that I found online here and here, in preparation for the full-size versions we will see when we get to the 8000 man large terracotta army in Xi’an.

Time to design, print, clean up and assemble: Just over 100 hours.


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