Music Box Madness

Hi everyone! Syracuse is buried in snow and we’re getting down to the end of the year. Your last chance to meet me in person will be at Peaks Coffee on December 17th from 10am-3pm. After that, I’ll be busy wrapping up the last of the commissions and getting ready to spend the holidays with my family.

Since I can’t show any of my commission photos until they’ve been unwrapped, I thought I would share my newest project obsession.

When I was younger I collected music boxes, and all told I have at least a dozen, so when it came time to think of a new way to present my art they were right at the top of the list. Musical movements – the part that plays the actual tune – are easily purchased online, as are bases to house them (at least until I give in, buy a lathe, and turn my own). My first couple of boxes were a simple enough combination of music, base, and clay figure.




Nice enough, but I was missing the drama of actual movement.

At this point, the simplest thing to do would be add a turntable, make the figure rotate, and call it a day. I’m not good with simple. I purchased a full crank assembly and proceeded to drive myself insane trying to make the danged thing work before I took a step back, got some turntables, and started simple. Let’s check out the video!



This box works by holding the tree at its foot and then winding the base; all you have to do is mount the movement upside down and replace the key with a turntable. Simple, yet sparkly and impressive! Why not make another?



The white tree is a little unusual, but it ended up being my favorite all the same.

With a little more confidence, I went back to my first box. This one uses a crank assembly that attached to the rotating drum of the movement which, when combined with a drive rod, allows you to add rocking motion to figures on your piece. Combine that with ample help from a mathematically-inclined husband,  a small clay cradle, and a basswood box painted to resemble an alphabet block….



….and you get the most complicated piece of work I’ve ever made. How about a close up?



I went for a gender-neutral pallet for my first piece, but wouldn’t this make a great customized gift? Colors, letter choice, toys, you name it; it’s full of exciting possibility.

There is surprisingly little information on music box creation available on the internet, so I’ve been taking apart some of my childhood boxes and (carefully) examining them. Some of the gear assemblies are complicated and amazing, and make me wish I had a little more engineering experience. Who knows, maybe I’ll get to a multi-movement box in the next year!