An affinity for woodworking and the sciences leads to unique pieces that blend craftsmanship and sci-fi.

“Colony #1” is constructed of mahogany, walnut, maple, manzanita root and metal leaf, with a lacquer finish.

Johnna Klukas says she grew up building things with her father in his basement workshop. She also grew up during the time of the Apollo program, which lead to an affinity for the sciences and engineering, as well as for science fiction, because the stories gave her the same sense of possibility that the space program did. Those factors have combined to create JYKBoxes, a variety of unique and award-winning works of art.

Before becoming a full-time artist in 1997, Klukas was a computer scientist and an electrical engineer.

“After I got out of school, I was looking for a hobby and came across two books on boxmaking,” Klukas says. “I was hooked.

“When I worked with wood, I saw galaxies in the swirls of figured poplar and gravitational fields in the ripples around knots in cherry boards, and I built boxes that highlighted what I saw,” she adds.

“Hall of the Mountain King (2001)”, which has won several awards and measures 68 inches high, 32 inches wide and 10 inches deep, features numerous boxes, drawers and hidden compartments

Shortly after she began boxmaking, her husband volunteered at a Boston-area science fiction convention. The convention had an art show, and it was there that Klukas realized her boxes would have an audience.

“I realized my boxes would fit right in,” Klucas says. “Maybe I’d even be able to sell some to support my hobby. The following year I entered a few pieces in the art show, sold better than I expected, and that gave me the impetus to continue in that vein.”

Klukas uses mostly maple, cherry and walnut in her work as she is allergic to a lot of exotic woods. Exotic woods such as African or Honduran mahogany, wenge, padauk and bubinga, which she is not allergic to, are used as accent woods.

“A simple rocket sculpture or box will typically take three or four days from selecting the wood to final finishing,” Klukas explains. “A large freestanding box, like ‘Hall of the Mountain King (2001)’, which has numerous boxes, drawers and hidden compartments, will take me two or three months of actual design, build and finishing time.”

Klukas will usually have several projects going simultaneously, in various states of completion, so that she may move from one to another. JYKBoxes can be seen at various art shows and on Klukas’ Web site.

To learn more about Klukas’ work, visit www.jykboxes.com.

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