An Affair by Deidre Murphy

Topic: Boxes

There was no money to buy an upcoming birthday present. There was a paper box. There was a perfect image on the computer. There were my water colors. There was my paper collection.

Paper has fascinated me ever since I can remember. Every new piece intrigues me with its uniqueness, its smell, its texture, its shape, its color, its gloss, its weight even its imperfections.

I became enthralled with that first box. I had a vision of what it should look like. But somehow the box and paper had ideas of their own. What we created together was beautiful.

It was the perfect mating of shape and material for me. I became obsessed with making present boxes using my beloved paper.

Thoughts of the box’s person float in my head as I select, cut and glue. The instant I find the perfect image, the thrill is unimaginable. A paper matching a hint of a color in the image appears. My excitement mounts. I know this is meant to be. The box always has its say. I’ve learned to listen. Together we’ve produced amazing pieces.

Some boxes are quickly ready. I become impatient for a layer to dry so I can put the next piece on. Others are late. Pieces of paper scattered around, they sit staring at me. Something isn’t laying right or the color is wrong or the piece is too big. But eventually it all fits and the box goes off to its person. Sometimes the box arrives with money. Sometimes it just carries my good wishes.

For Christmas this year, images from my childhood dictionary inspired the boxes. A Funk and Wagnall published in 1910, it was encyclopedic with beautiful detailed colored plates of Flowers of the World, Birds of the Americas, Famous Diamonds, and Ancient Coins. I salvaged some more than 20 years ago when we finally tossed the decrepit thing out.

After I gave out the boxes, I told my siblings how they came to be. Of course, memories came up of Scrabble games, homework, and arguments ending with “look it up in the dictionary.”

My niece Fiona said, “I love the boxes you use, Aunt Deidre.”

“They are just matchboxes,” I replied, a bit embarrassed I can’t afford to buy her the presents I’d like to anymore.

She looked at me puzzled and said, “I know.”

“Thank you.” I finally answered her compliment. “I really enjoy making them for you.” She beamed at me and turned to one of her cousins.

Her puzzled look bothered me for a moment. Then I understood. Of course. She knows. They aren’t just boxes. They are my love.

Photo by the author

5 Responses to “An Affair by Deidre Murphy”
  1. nakedgirlinadress says:

    I love the statement that you are not completely in control of what you make; the idea the boxes take part in the creative process. That’s how I feel about writing. I sit to write, possibly even have a topic in mind. But what comes is not completely within my control.

    It’s a beautiful piece.

    • Deidre M. Murphy says:

      Thank you. I have heard other artists, painters, ceramicists, say the same thing. It’s almost trance like isn’t it when you sit down to create? At least it can be for me sometimes. Keep on writing, creating, following the muse.

  2. Richard Wiseman says:

    My wife is an art teacher and makes stuff for craft fairs and markets and she always sells out. My children and I miss her when the obsession hits her and she sits at the sewing machine or works away with paper, glue and material. Just like yourself she pours her love into the work, though she sells her stuff. I admire people like you for having such a natural talent for creativity. I can write, but I can’t manufacture things and I always admire people who can actually make a physical thing, especially when it’s well crafted and beautiful as you boxes appear to be from the picture. What I also liked was what you said about love. Interestingly whatever anyone else writes about boxes I don’t think it’ll be as unique and lovely as your post.

  3. Deidre M. Murphy says:

    Thank you so much. I had to smile when I read you miss her when the obsession hits her. We do go off into a world of our own.

  4. Roving Jay says:

    Love the article Deidre. I couldn’t articulate how I create my craft pieces either – they just evolve. There’s an internal radar that let’s me know I’m not finished – because it just doesn’t feel “balanced” – but when I’m satisfied, and I know it’s complete – it usually doesn’t match my initial intent or inspiration.

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