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 ; )

Saturday, June 4, 2011

The best yard sale find of my life!

Let me walk you through how the best yard sale find of my life unfolded:
I slept in this morning and when I woke up I was annoyed with myself for being 1/2 hr late to the beginning of the group yard sale at the church down the road.
I've been looking for a pair of nightstands to put next to the bed.
There was very little furniture at the yard sale so I left 5 minutes after arriving.   As I was driving home I decided to do a quick stop at the local thrift shop.
I notice a mirror as soon as I walked in so I grabbed it and set it off to the side.  As I set the mirror down I saw the oil paintings, so I turn to them and pull the bigger one forward to see it better (it's pretty dark inside the building) ... 

that's when I noticed all the papers on the back.  Way cool, I instantly wanted it.   I like when something comes with a 'story' ... something to give the item a date, and a way to identify it.  

I'm about to look at the smaller painting when a man says to me 'I know you from somewhere' ... and for the next 10 minutes I am chatting with this man about how he may know me.  I still don't know him and actually that whole conversation has me a little uneasy because afterward I realized that I ended up telling that man my first name and the last 3 places that I've lived ... fast forward 2 hours later when I'm replaying that whole exchange over in my head and I keep repeating to myself 'stupid, stupid stupid!'

Aaanyway ... the gentleman who works there come back in and asked me if I wanted any help so I asked him to tell me the price of the mirror and the paintings ... he told me $2 for the mirror and $5 for the pair of paintings ... Oh, I am SO game with those prices!
I paid for the items and left, I was in a bit of a hurry because I wanted to get home and get to work on some projects that I want to complete.
When I got home I opened the truck doors and pulled the larger painting out into the sun to get a better look ...  *gasp* it looks like oil on canvas and it is beautiful!

 I turned the painting over to read the papers and my excitement is building ... the one paper is 
in eye-talian and while I can't read it I at least can recognize "Accademia" 
so that tells me that the artist studied in Italy ... ?

I see the certificate of merit and the 'who's who' certificate but I don't know if these mean anything or if they are the equivalent of what kids get when they are in boy/girl scouts ... just something to say 'good for you!'

Hildegard Rath ... that's the signature on the painting ... the top line of the bio on the back says that she was born in 1909 in Germany!   

I stood in the driveway so very excited ... thinking about how in all likelihood Ms. Rath has passed on by now, but I'm holding something that shows that she left her mark in this world ... actually two pieces ... yup I was feeling very nostalgic.

So then I turn my attention to the second painting ... I've barely looked at it at this point.
It's a painting of cyclamens ... the uniqueness pulls at me.  Roses, daisies, peonies, sunflowers ... they are all usual suspects when it comes to still art, but this is the first time that I'm noticing cyclamens and I like it!

I turn it over and no paperwork but a small tag is pinned to it and I actually find 
myself stuttering in my head ... HOLY ... OH MY ... WHAT?! 

Well now wait a minute, people over price things all the time, that doesn't mean that these paintings are worth anything as far as the art world is concerned.

It turns out that they are.  Hildegard Rath did pass away in 1994 and from what I can tell her pieces sell anywhere from a couple hundred to a couple thousand dollars.
Looking at the paintings, I can see why.
I bought these pieces being happy in the knowledge that we get to enjoy the art that someone took the time to create ... not even considering that they would be from an accomplished artist ... just happy that someone took the time to paint them by hand.

The framing doesn't quite seem to be professionally done but that too is unique and I don't want to change a thing.

 I can't wait to hang these!!