Introduction: After Channeling Joseph Cornell, It's More Than a Box

Sometimes,when visiting an art exhibition, if you are lucky,
you read or see something in the biographical or research material which resonates so completely with some chord in yourself that you are stunned - gobsmacked- by the connection you feel to the artist.

Several years ago , I experienced such a moment when I visited the Joseph Cornell exhibition "Navigating the Imagination " at The Smithsonian American Art Museum. http://americanart.si.edu/exhibitions/online/cornell/imagination/.

It was not, however, when viewing the work itself that this happened.

While I was awed and transported by the magic and the beauty of the artworks in the exhibition, their absolute completeness and perfection as individual objects was humbling. For me, the amazement you feel in the presence of a master's work distances you, no matter how much you love the artist. The relationship is a matter of scale - you are like the tiny donors in medieval altar pieces, gazing up at the enormous saints.

Then I looked at the supporting images which the exhibition had used as wall paper...

Standing there in front of the huge photo of the boxes and boxes of supplies in Joseph Cornell's basement studio, I knew I was seeing the evidence that here had been a kindred spirit. Someone, like myself, to whom certain objects seem so charged with meaning and presence, they almost demand to be collected. Rocks, feathers, shells, postcards, wine corks, fragments of broken porcelain, rusted metal, marbles ...

And knowing that, I knew, absolutely, that Joseph Cornell and I had faced the same dilemma:

Where do you put all those bits and pieces: the solid and the ephemeral, so that you are not buried in Clutter, yet not constantly hunting for the spot where you put the one object you need?

Fittingly, for Joseph Cornell, the answer was boxes. Boxes with handwritten labels.

Yes, you need a different kind of Joseph Cornell Box: a storage box.

Step 1: You Won't Just Recycle These Boxes ...

Look around. You probably have boxes in your recycling bin that you can transform into perfect storage.

I know I do.

Two of my favorite foods come packaged in sturdy,stackable boxes:
Clementines and Orgain protein drink. In this instructable, I show how I transform these boxes into visually pleasing, labelled storage boxes which I can shelve or stack. Since I have very limited closet space, boxes I can stack under a worktable are always useful.

In the project, I use a clementine box, but the process is the same for the Orgain boxes or similar boxes you may have.

Step 2: Once You Gather Your Tools and Supplies.

You will need:
the boxes you are transforming
chalkboard paint
a paint brush or a sponge brush
gloves (optional)

Step 3: And Apply Two Coats of Chalkboard Paint.

Since I will stack my boxes with only one side visible on the shelf, I only paint that side. The side of the clementine box usually has a shipper's label stuck on it. The paint will often be a little streaky at first because of the surface slickness of the label.

I find that if I daub a first coat of chalkboard paint onto the box and let it dry, before continuing, the second coat will go on smoothly.

Step 4: Your Boxes Will Be Transformed. Add Your Label in Chalk.

Once the second coat of paint is dry, your Joseph Cornell Storage Box is ready to be labelled.

Chalk is the perfect tool for the job. I find that over time, as I use up some objects and gather up new ones, the description on the box changes. It is so easy to wipe off the chalk label and write a new one that misleading storage labels will be a thing of the past.

Step 5: You've Made Your Joseph Cornell Storage Boxes. You're Channeling Cornell...

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