Building boxes takes a long time. Even if they’re not really fancy boxes. That’s my observation for the week. I have these two cabinets that hold a lot of my paper and drawings on paper. And I have a lot of drawings. It’s tough to keep them neat and organized in such a fashion that they’re useful. Most of my drawings are on bristol which is a heavy paper. When piled up it gets cumbersome. Especially since the paper the drawings are on are six or so different sizes.

So I decided I needed some storage boxes to put the drawings in. Put some order in the growing chaos. I already have a lot of drawings in boxes. They are old cardboard stat paper boxes that were always lying around at an old job of mine. They are a few different sizes and do a good job. But they were already in use so I needed some new ones.

I know of some art supply places that sell storage boxes for art. I’ve sampled a couple of boxes from such places ant they are pretty nice. But at about fifteen dollars a box they can get pricey quickly. Time or money. That’s what it always comes down too. Which do I have more of. If I had more money than time I would buy the boxes. But right now I have more time than money. So I decided to make some of my own.

I hit the local art supply store and bought three sheets of thirty two by forty inch mat board. At eight dollars a sheet it would cost less than buying boxes but there was a lot of work to be done. First I had to decide what sizes I needed and how to cut them so I could get the most boxes out of the mat board.

I basically needed three different size boxes. One to fit eleven by seventeen inch paper, one to fit nine by twelve inch paper, and one to fit five and a half by eleven inch paper. These are the three sizes of paper I use most.

I used Adobe Illustrator to figure out how to cut the boxes out of the mat board. I made a Illustrator box the size of the board and then made a bunch of Illustrator boxes the sizes I need to cut out. It was then a like a puzzle moving around all the little boxes until I figured out the maximum amount of boxes I could cut out of my three sheets.

Then I drew my pattern that I made in Illustrator onto my mat board. I used an X-Acto knife and metal ruler to cut the board and then scored the board with the X-Acto where I wanted to fold the board. After that I folded the box and taped the edges with paper tape to hold it together.

That sounds easy enough and pretty much is. When you’re making one box. I was making about ten boxes. Plus they all had lids which were made the exact same way as the bottom of the box that I just described. The lid is slightly larger though. So it fits on.

It took me most of the day to make all those boxes. I knew it would and I had the time but it wasn’t easy. It would have cost me about $150 to buy storage boxes and they wouldn’t have been the exact sizes I wanted so I’m glad I built them but at about box number six I was wondering what the hell I was doing this for. Then I got my second wind and trudged on through.

After that I had to pull everything out of the cabinets and put the drawings in the boxes. That took a while too. Longer than I thought it would but not nearly as long as making the boxes. I was also having trouble organizing the drawings. Besides by size that is. So I decided to save the organizing for another day and just put them in the boxes. That’s where things are right now.

It’s a lot of work making boxes and those were only made out of mat board. I can’t imagine making them out of wood or some such. My level of craftsmanship isn’t that high. I’m glad I did it though.

One of the good things about a project like that is that there is a tangible goal to meet. I’m used to dealing with making art where seeing the right answer among the wrong ones is really hard. And a lot of the time I am unsure if I have succeeded. It’s often a struggle without a tangible goal at the end.

With making boxes I set out to make some boxes and in the end have ten boxes to show for it. I’ve reached a tangible goal. Ten boxes asked for and ten boxes made. They stay together and they are the right size. And the craftsmanship isn’t half bad. Mission accomplished. It’s good to reach a goal. Even if it isn’t a magnificent one.

So that’s the story of building boxes. Not too exciting, not too spectacular, but just one of those things in life that has to get finished. It’s good to get things finished.