A Box Made From A Dried Orange Peel

Craft & Design Energy & Sustainability
A Box Made From A Dried Orange Peel

Here’s a link to the fantastic British brainy-toys site Grand Illusions that I’ve been hoarding for awhile, hoping to someday reproduce the process and post it as a tutorial. I have tried sun-drying several of the largest orange peels I can find on suitable forms, and have made one functional round box that is quite small and ugly compared to these.

[T]his box is actually made from an orange, or at least the peel of an orange, that has been squeezed thin, shaped, dried out and ‘cured’. Originally an ancient Mediterranean art, the technique was revived in the 1980s by a husband and wife team based in California.

Using orange peel, grapefruit and lime peel, the skins are soaked for several hours in water, then turned inside out and placed over a mould. They then spend several days drying in the sun, and are then removed from the mould and polished. The boxes will apparently last for decades, although the natural scent of the fruit will only last 3 or 4 years.

They are no longer for sale, and the fairly old linked page, above, is the only web-based information I can find about the process. If you’ve got any useful info, and care to share it, please let me know, below.

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52 thoughts on “A Box Made From A Dried Orange Peel

  1. Al Roderick says:

    The white part of a citrus peel is sometimes called the “pith”, as in “pith helmet”.  While citrus pith wasn’t used to make said Imperialist headgear, instead relying on an Indian marsh plant, I assume the idea is similar. Vascular structures like that are natural composites.

  2. Liz says:

    I bought an orange peel box from a little shop in Point Reyes, CA. It was very cute but a month later it started growing mold and I had to throw it away, so sad! Picture of it here http://www.flickr.com/photos/lizzyannh/2898177857/

  3. Ehlen says:

    Check out the website of Ori Sonnenschein who uses (guess) a similar process to create his ‘Peel’ project. It’s great!
    http://www.solskindesign.com/

  4. Ehlen says:

    Check out the website of Ori Sonnenschein who uses (guess) a similar process to create his ‘Peel’ project. It’s great!
    http://www.solskindesign.com/

  5. Ehlen says:

    Check out the website of Ori Sonnenschein who uses (guess) a similar process to create his ‘Peel’ project. It’s great!
    http://www.solskindesign.com/

  6. Arturo Espinosa says:

    There are instructions in spanish and portuguese at: 
     http://elrincondelasmanualidades-carmen.blogspot.com/2009/05/cajita-con-cascara-de-naranja.html

    1. Sean Michael Ragan says:

      Ah, perfect!  Thank you, Arturo!

    2. Sean Michael Ragan says:

      Ah, perfect!  Thank you, Arturo!

  7. Andrew S. Parnell says:

    If I had to guess I’d say you probably need to use some sort of solar dehydrator rather than just setting it in the sun. Something like this: http://www.i4at.org/surv/soldehyd.htm

  8. Jenny Groody says:

    Here are lots of pictures and instructions in Italian:
    http://www.bergarte.it/
    Click on LAVORAZIONE

    1. Sean Michael Ragan says:

      Sweet!  Thanks very much, Jenny.  That is exactly the info I was looking for. 

    2. Sean Michael Ragan says:

      Sweet!  Thanks very much, Jenny.  That is exactly the info I was looking for. 

    1. Tim Harris says:

      Found an example of filling leather to make it hold shape when dry:
      http://www.bushcraftusa.com/forum/showthread.php?t=12237

      This could probably extend to an orange

    2. Tim Harris says:

      Found an example of filling leather to make it hold shape when dry:
      http://www.bushcraftusa.com/forum/showthread.php?t=12237

      This could probably extend to an orange

      1. Sean Michael Ragan says:

         Even if not, that’s a pretty sweet tutorial in its own right.  Thanks, Tim!

      2. Sean Michael Ragan says:

         Even if not, that’s a pretty sweet tutorial in its own right.  Thanks, Tim!

    3. Tim Harris says:

      Found an example of filling leather to make it hold shape when dry:
      http://www.bushcraftusa.com/forum/showthread.php?t=12237

      This could probably extend to an orange

    4. Tim Harris says:

      Found an example of filling leather to make it hold shape when dry:
      http://www.bushcraftusa.com/forum/showthread.php?t=12237

      This could probably extend to an orange

  9. Jan J says:

    I actually bought one for my mom when I was in Patagonia, Argentina.  I saw it and it took me a moment to realize that it was made from a orange rine.  I though it was rather interesting and unique since my mom is very hard to shop for so I got it.  One thing is that there are actual carvings and engravings on the top of the box.  It think there might have also been some wood like burning effects used as well.

  10. jeroboambramblejam says:

    I just found a beautiful example of this art form ($ 1 @ a not-new shop); the pithy surface was worked with pick and blade into a very sweet flower/butterfly scene, let to dry, and then painted… What could be a “ZT” initial is on the bottom. I thought it was made of papier mache until I saw the rind pattern inside.

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I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and makezine.com. My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c't – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.

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