Sunday, July 17, 2011
Crazed and Confused
Anyway, the point is, antique “warehouses” smell, and then there’s the issue of springs. Do not sit on antique furniture. If it doesn’t crumble underneath you, it fights back.
The seats are full of perilously bound springs. You have to worry about placing your bottom down carefully and just so, or risk getting goosed by an old rusty spring (wrapped in stinky horse hair).
Now, I might have appreciated the wood and the unique carvings on some of the furniture if it wasn’t for the fact that antique collectors insist that you can’t remove the “patina.” (Also known as crazing.) Crazing is a combination of dust, decay, and wood finish. It’s like the shellac (which, by the way, is made from a secretion of the female lac bug) in a state of cloudy decay makes the piece more valuable than if it’s stripped and newly finished. After all, it would be a crime to get rid of all that history of neglect and garage storage.
So, yeah, the last thing I wanted in my brand new house was a crazed old petticoat table.
And besides, a petticoat table?
What the heck'sa petticoat table?
And who’s wearing petticoats around here?
(Just so I don’t leave these questions unanswered, 1) the table is about three and a half feet tall, four feet wide, and two feet deep with a mirror against its back wall which dainty ladies could use to check their petticoats before leaving the house. 2) Nobody.)
So no, I didn’t want the senseless, ugly, crazed, outdated, smelly thing in my house.
But my in-laws are awesome and I didn’t want to hurt their feelings.
After all, in their view they were giving us a family heirloom.
A rare and wondrous treasure.
One with valuable patina.
Anyway, Mark, being Mark, saw the potential in this piece of firewood and decided to commit a cardinal sin:
He stripped the thing and refinished it.
Weeks later what emerged from our garage was a breathtaking piece of furniture. (The picture doesn't even begin to do it justice.) It with beautiful, matching grain, stunning feet, and a finely polished (but still historically weathered) marble top.
For the first time I found myself really appreciated wood.
It wasn’t just for building fires!
You could do more with it than frame a house!
You could create furniture that was truly art.
That was our first piece of furniture and now our house is full of antiques. We’ve collected “firewood” furniture which Mark (and a really great upholsterer who’s happy to get rid of horsehair) have brought back to life. Not only is the reworked furniture beautiful, but I like the thought that the people who put such care and artistry into creating it have their work appreciated all over again.
I’ve been told that I make, uh, off beat connections, and I confess that the reason I’m babbling about petticoat tables and stripping antiques is because I realize that I myself am “crazed.” The petticoat table is a good reminder that sometimes you have to let go of the past to really shine in the present.
Underneath the crazing there’s life.