Tuesday, June 28, 2011

DisaHappointed ... ?

It's early June and I'm sitting in the truck, waiting in a long line of traffic going to Jeremy's high school graduation ceremony.  
I'm looking out the window at the baseball field sorting through all of the emotions that accompany a parent as they are going to their child's graduation when Shelby says "ooh pretty thistles!"  I look over at the thistles and it's like I'm seeing them for the first time ... I'm only now noticing just how pretty they are.  The form is a great teardrop shape, the spines make the soft frilly tops seem even softer and I love how the pink & purple contrast with the greens.
I also realize how a thistle fits into our present situation nicely.  The layers opening and unfolding are like the years that a child advances through school, and how the end result is both beautiful and prickly ... beauty for the graduate who has finished a chapter of growing up, and prickly for the parent who isn't quite ready to let go yet.

Everything just kind of fell into place.
The chair had belonged to someone else, she didn't want it back, I was going to donate it but never got around to it.
I had purchased a quart of Minwax Royal Mahogany stain from Restore ($1) a few months back not because I had a project in mind but because the color is a beautiful deep rich purple-red-brown.
I had been thinking about trying my hand at the whole dropcloth/grain sack/paint your own project that I've been seeing on other blogs so I picked up a dropcloth the last time I was in Lowes.
But once I saw the thistles, I knew exactly what I wanted to do with that chair.  I had seen the thistle dining chairs that McKenzie Childs has and I like the look, so I figured this should turn out ok ... hopefully. 
I had a chair, material, stain and now inspiration ... I couldn't wait to get started.

I stripped the chair and sanded the wood.  I didn't want to put in the time that was going to be needed for the staining process but I knew that I would regret not trying.  Plus, if the stain didn't look right then I could paint over it.
I applied at least 3 layers of stain,  and each time the wood got darker and the deep purple took shape.
While that dried I started on painting the thistle.  I searched the internet for images of thistles and that's when I realized that there are a bunch of different types of thistles and I wasn't sure what type I had seen on graduation day.  So I just picked an image and used that as a reference.  

While I was in the process of painting the thistle, Shelby and my father-in-law had returned to the spot where we originally noticed the prickly weeds and bravely picked two flower heads ... one mostly closed and one fairly opened.  Yay, these were a way better reference!  But wait ... damn ... I painted the wrong type of thistle!

I liked how the painting came out, but it was the wrong plant and if I used that one then I would always think 'wrong' each time I looked at the chair.  So I decided to keep the first attempt for some other project and start all over ... I didn't mind though, painting like this make me feel like an art-teest .... weeee!  

The painting was the easy part ... the recovering was a bit of a challenge.  
It shouldn't have been, and that is where my disappointment comes in to play.  When I think about it, I'd had my doubts all along that this material 
would be a good choice for upholstery ... but once more my impatience got the better of me.
The material is way too thin to withstand the tension needed for a well done upholstering pull.  The flower head ended up being positioned way higher than it was supposed to be due to a rip in the material right by one of the arms ... my only two choices were to either reposition the flower or take it all apart, get new heavier material and start all over again.  Seeing as to how I STILL don't have a single room finished in my house and a project list longer than my arm ... I decided it best to just reposition and move on.
So yeah, on the upholstering side of things it's disappointing to see the staple pulls and the lumps, and creases ... but it's a learning lesson on choice of fabric.
On the other hand I look at this chair and I remember:
-the bittersweet event of Jeremy's graduation
-that Pappy came down to go to the ceremony and that made Jeremy feel so special
-Shelby & Pappy fighting the thorns and picking the flower heads for me
- Tim coming in and checking the progress of the chair, complimenting me along the way.

I look at this chair and I think about my family ... and I smile ; )


  1. i related so well to this post. I have a son that graduated from high school in the spring and is leaving for the air force next month. He too, is chaffing at the wait but I am enjoying the time to spend with hime before he leaves for the 'real' world. I have discovered a creative side that i never knew I possesed. I think it's Gods gift to me at this time in my life. Possibly so I dont go crazy with so little to do with my time. I bet you would understand my bursting into tears the first time I drove by the football field on Friday night after he graduated. The lights, the band, the boys in uniform and my son NOT on the field. (i am from tx and we are a football state!) Who knew one of the hardest things a mother can do is let her children go?

    Launda from Tx

  2. Launda, I sure do understand the bursting into tears, but soon you will be bursting into smiles because you won't be able to contain your pride!
    Congrats on your son joining the USAF, enjoy your time with him and keep that creative side running!!
    ; )

  3. Thank you Ann ... for ALL of the nice comments that you've left ; )