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George Rix Seawitchartist

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Seamen's Chests

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 Seawitch Artist.

 

 

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 I developed.

 

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 tide!

All text and images and linked images are 2003-2013 George Rix .If you require any further information on permitted use, or a licence to republish any material, email me at copyright@seawitchartist.com

 

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