For Frank

I was very lucky this summer to have toured Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin in Spring Green, Wisconsin. The house and property are absolutely breathtaking. While on the tour of the main house I noticed a very unique box sitting on one of the tables and asked the tour guide about it. She said it was made for Frank Lloyd Wright, by one of his students, to hold the architectural medals he had won. Now this was a fairly simple looking box that didn’t have a lid or any finish on it but I loved it and was inspired to design “For Frank”.


The five lift off boxes and the base in “For Frank” are made from Black Walnut with a Black Walnut Dowel used to strengthen the mitered joint . The large horizontal portions are made from bookmatched, quartersawn white oak. They are not hard mounted to the box sections, they actually “float”. I designed a way to allow this float, to handle temperature/humidity changes, using a grove in the box and a spline to capture the panel. The square holes where first cut with a mortiser. After that came the very time consuming action of rounding over all the edges. Thank god for rasps and detail sanding sticks! The vertical inlays are made from quartersawn Bocote and African Blackwood. The grain of the Bocote is continuous all the way up the box.


The base of the lid is made from quartersawn white oak. The top adornment is made from Bloodwood, Wenge and Curly Maple. I designed the pattern myself. Frank admired Japanese architecture so the large red “sun” worked nicely. I related dimensions mathematically where I could to make everything complement itself (1/2” wide pice, 1/2” wide space, 1/2” wide cutout, etc.).


There is no stain on the box. All the quartersawn white oak pieces got fumed using a homemade chamber and 26% ammonia. After 28 hours of fuming they were attached to the box sections and the entire box got three coats of clear Danish oil with 0000 steel wool in between. After two weeks of drying it got buffed twice with BriWax. The boxes are lined in a Cherokee Red fabric. This was Frank Lloyd Wrights favorite color that he used on many of his homes. “For Frank” is 10” x 10” x 17.5”.


"For Frank" is in a private collection.

Jeff Baenen Boxes

Kenosha, WI

Tel: 847 331 0756