This dome-top box belongs to a group of about sixty similarly decorated objects that have been attributed to an unidentified maker known only as the "compass artist." The name is derived from the scolling and floriated designs that were incised into the surfaces with the use of a stylus and compass. This example was probably once a brighter blue, but the pigments have darkened with age and oxidation. There appears to be a close correspondence between the scribed and freehand motifs painted on this box and textile designs of the same period. The large-scale floral elements with dotted details are similar in appearance to a fabric printing technique called picotage that is associated with early indigo resist textiles, which were popular in Pennsylvania at the time. In this technique, a woodblock was hammered with nails or pins to create the stippling, and then was used to print the designs on fabric.
Stacy C. Hollander, "Dome-Top Storage Box," exhibition label for ALSO ON VIEW: Selections from the Collection. Stacy C. Hollander, curator. New York: American Folk Art Museum, 2014.