Mondrian (inspired) #1: First attempt

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Blog entry by BritBoxmaker posted 03-28-2010 12:18 PM 11610 reads 6 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Mondrian (inspired) series Part 2: Neoplastic Experiments »

I’ve always liked the early 20th century artist, Piet Mondrian’s Neo Plasticist style (example below) and would like to include this style of design in my box work.

As you can see his compositions use a white (and sometimes gray) background; red, yellow and blue and a strong black divider. I use Sycamore (white), Ebony (black), Padauk (red), Pau Amarello (yellow) and the only problem one is blue. The closest naturally occuring is Purpleheart.

I decided to take on an easy one first

and here’s the result

Well a few days on and the pattern has made it into its box

The box is Sonokeling Rosewood with an Indian Rosewood liner (didn’t have any Sonokeling left and had to raid the scraps box).

This also shows a variation on my basic mitred box construction where a liner in the main body of the box is used to locate the lid.


-- Martyn -- Boxologist, Pattern Juggler and Candyman of the visually challenging.

9 comments so far

View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2137 posts in 3471 days

#1 posted 03-28-2010 02:34 PM

Personally, I like what you are doing without the use of dye. I think that letting the various hues of the different species of wood makes these pieces unique, challenging, and more in spirit of the artist than using dyes. One of the problems I had with Neoplasticism is the quantity of artists that would use this as kind of cheating way to try to make a quick piece so that they can make a quick buck. Not a personal criticism of your work, I think it is a brilliant idea for boxes.

But, in my humble opinion, I think these would be more exceptional if you challenged yourself to mimic the style with the natural wood colors. There are times when you won’t be able to find the exact color to match, but the efforts would still add your own unique vision to the concept. And the beauty of it all is that wood colors change over time, depending on exposure to light. So you would also have a box in which the colors would undergo change over time. So the piece would never stay the same. Which is kind of cool in itself.

My two cents :) Great work!


-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

View BritBoxmaker's profile


4611 posts in 3398 days

#2 posted 03-28-2010 04:06 PM

I take your point on the wood, David, I prefer the more natural approach also.

Fortunately I’m in the position of not having to make a ‘fast buck’ so this is more about me and the design side. There is some heavy copyright on Mondrian’s work so, apart from this first pass, I’ll be working in the Neoplastic Style not doing direct copies. Wherever that takes me, I’m already considering modifying my box making style slightly to accommodate some of the ideas I’m coming up with.

Thanks very much for the feedback


-- Martyn -- Boxologist, Pattern Juggler and Candyman of the visually challenging.

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3477 days

#3 posted 03-28-2010 06:28 PM

even with copyright there shuold not bee a problem out
from thoose pictures you show
did he made his in plastic or coloured tilĀ“s or paint on a screen
I know that if I cut something from a photos and makea collage
out of that there is no problem becourse it has been transformed
to another artistic piece
wooooden that bee the same if you use wood in naturel colours
even if you make it eksacly with the same dimensions everywhere
you have transformed it in to something else just inspired of him


View RichClark's profile


157 posts in 3792 days

#4 posted 03-29-2010 02:49 AM

You could use a water die and then seal it.. for a box inside it should do fine… I saw a guitar neck by a student at Red rocks Luther class that had a VIVID Blue Parrot in it.. Was Dyed Holly… was beautiful… Nice, Fun project… and I would not be afraid to experiment with it.. enjoy!

-- Duct Tape is the Force! It has a light side and a dark side and it Binds the Universe together!

View Lisa Chan's profile

Lisa Chan

147 posts in 3512 days

#5 posted 03-29-2010 08:06 AM

This is beautiful, keep experimenting!

-- Lisa Chan, custom cafts and yarn accessories,

View SPalm's profile


5332 posts in 4244 days

#6 posted 03-29-2010 03:05 PM

That looks great to me. I would like it if the purple heart was replaced with walnut too. I think the natural woods done in this way would be nice. It will be fun to watch how you develop it. I had played around years ago with doing wooden stained glass, ala FLW.

Neat stuff,

-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View PaulfromVictor's profile


228 posts in 3707 days

#7 posted 03-30-2010 03:28 PM


Prior to this post, I was not familiar with Neo Plasticism. From a purist perspective, the purple not being a primary color I do not think fits the style. I do agree with David though that my eye prefers to see the natural tones of the wood. I would see this as “inspired” by the style rather than an example of it. That being said, I would say to go with what you feel shows off your style.

To achieve the blue, there are water based dyes that should be able to achieve your result. Transtint offers a blue:

View Bluebear's profile


417 posts in 3258 days

#8 posted 08-17-2010 02:01 PM

this is fantastic martyn!! you’ve given me yet more inspiration for future projects :)

-- -- It's only a mistake if you can't fix it.

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9238 posts in 3282 days

#9 posted 10-12-2011 11:14 PM

I had not seen this post before. I do like the look of this type of design. Crisp and clean. I agree with the above that using the natural colors of the wood is the way to go. Just my preference. I like the purple heart, however, and think the purple color of it gives an added bit of interest.

Great work as always.


-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

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