Rix Seawitch Artist
China Tea Chests
The Four Elements
Seamen in the sailing ship
era took chests , if they were so organised, to sea with them. They would become
very personal things with the underside of their lids especially, decorated with
paintings of ships, flags, their names or images of woman and places been. These
have become highly collectable, a reproduction on board the Cutty
Sark is illustrated here. Some where very good, a few seamen went on to become
ship illustrators. The sailor Thomas Budd really was a Cutty Sark crew
member, he was a 38 year old Able Seaman (AB) who sailed her in 1886.
I was inspired to make a sea
chest for myself, which I did but during this time I had also noticed the trend
of Tea clippers with 'Witchy' names, and I found eight that could apply, to be
outstanding performers in an era where speed mattered, so I came up with the
idea of the China Tea Chests, with a British and American side to them, the
American side I have began work on in what is an ongoing project at the time of
writing. They are made for myself and won't be going on sale.
A Seaman's Chest onboard the Cutty Sark.
The Cutty Sark Chest.
This was the first one to be
made and very much the hardest, I was on a learning path as I made it. The wood
for it is from proper Tea Chests donated by the Cutty Sark Trust, of which I've
been a friends member some years. These are Chinese Cedar wood chests and seem
to be the source of a lovely aroma when you come aboard the ship. However, they
are not very precisely cut and were the Devils own work to make perfect,
also, as I would be bonding sheets together to make a sturdy item, the job would
take several original chests to produce one of these. Thereafter professionally
cut wood was used. The
'Marine Pentacle' was first applied here, that has it's own pages! The
Chinese writing, I'm assured by a Chinaman, means 'China Green Tea'. I hope so!
The flag on the front of the tea chest is the house flag of her company, John
Willis & son, the one on the sides the national flag, this layout applies to all
the China tea chests.
The 'Cutty Sark' Tea Chest by
The Halloween Tea Chest
A metal hulled stable mate of the Cutty Sark, the
Hallowe'en was a late
comer but probably the fastest tea racer of all. Note the British spelling of
this ship! This was the first chest to benefit from the rope painting technique
The Ariel Tea Chest
The Ariel's race with Taeping in 1866 was probably the most
exciting of all, neck and neck all the way, with the Serica home on the same
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