One-of-a-kind “Reliquary Boxes” charm artist Grace Gunning’s many collectors
After years of working in glass, craft artist Grace Gunning discovered several old metal-forming machines, some dating back to the 1860’s. She became fascinated by them, and began to experiment with metal fabrication techniques.
This led to the creation of unique pieces of art she calls “reliquary boxes.” Reliquary boxes can be as small as 2” x 2 ½” or as large as 18” x 18,” and average a couple of inches in depth.
Each reliquary box is lined in velvet, ready to hold treasures or memorabilia. The boxes themselves have moving parts, which add to their quirkiness, and provide a quiet respite from the fast-pace modern world. Although many of her collectors use these boxes to hold jewelry, she has noticed that quite a few are displayed in offices as well.
These collector items reveal much about the personality of the owner, and can be customized for them. Grace smiles and mentions that she loves making commissioned boxes most of all. She recalls a wedding box created for a couple planning to honeymoon in Tahiti. An old travel poster of the exotic destination was combined with their photos to create a memento that will become an heirloom and conversation piece.
An unexpected market evolved as Grace has been asked to create custom boxes to hold the ashes of beloved pets or even family members. Collectors have embraced them as a very personal and cherished piece of functional art.
Grace expresses the desire to bring new artists into the fold, passing on her experience and techniques in metal craft, using unusual, antiquated equipment.