John Manthei Bentwood Box (F, G, H, I)
Spruce bentwood boxes made by master woodworker and Folk School Founder John Manthei.
The bentwood boxes show the strong influence of Yupik, Estonian, Scandinavian, and Russian traditions. With the exception of the birch nails holding the sides to the bottom, the boxes are entirely of spruce.
The key is to split the wood for the sides so the grain is straight and continuous. After soaking and steaming, John bends the sides to a desirable shape and stitches the overlapping portion together with spruce root. The lids and bottoms are fitted to that shape. The bottom is pinned on with wooden nails and hollowed out a bit for a bowl-like effect. The tops are hollowed out on the underside and domed on the top. The handles are made from the curving wood around knot holes and lashed on with root. The outside is finished with oil and wax. In this collection, John particularly enjoyed playing with dyed spruce root and using the wonderfully curvy wood formed around knots for the handles.
Box F, Box G, Box H, Box I