The first time I saw an “artistic chair” I was in awe. I remember the day – I was in Fort Lauderdale at a shop named “Seldom Seen.” Every item was, indeed, unique. The wooden furniture had wild designs painted on them – some had multi-colored checkerboards, others had floral designs, but each was a wonder unto itself.
That was years ago. I have since seen this type of furniture in shops throughout the country. I have seen auctions where artists each paint a chair and sell them off for charity events. Never did I dream I would attempt my own project.
Never say never.
I saw the vanity on Craigslist in Santa Cruz. My extra-large bathroom could accommodate this piece. I liked it because it was painted red. And it was cheap. And I needed a place to put my magnifying mirror, which is now essential since my eyesight ain’t what it used to be and it’s impossible to apply eye make-up with glasses on. I know. I tried and kept getting eye-shadow on my lenses.
As large as the bathroom is, there is very little counter space, so this seemed like a perfect solution.
I texted and then went to see it. The ad on Craigslist showed a photo of a red vanity. It was red alright – a bright cherry red. The red in my apartment is a deeper, richer red. The seller was pointing out the imperfections in the finish, but it didn’t matter to me. I knew I would re-paint it immediately. When I opened the center drawer, I noticed parts of the inside, not visible unless you opened the drawer, the original color had been lavender. She explained, “Oh yeah, this was my first time spray painting furniture. My first and last! What a pain. Oh, whoops, I’m not supposed to say things like that if I’m trying to sell, huh?”
I laughed and said,”It’s okay. How about knocking off five bucks and I take it off your hands?”
We loaded it into my little car and off I went – to the paint store! I thought to myself, she did a sloppy job on that thing. I would never have all those uneven edges and missed spots!
Never say never.
I didn’t sand the surface. I used an old hand-me-down brush that still had some dried paint on it from its last tour of duty. I didn’t use masking tape. I used newspaper instead of a drop-cloth. Yes, it was my first time painting furniture. Did I ask for help? No! I just did it. Did it come out good? No!
I let it dry, sanded it, got a new brush, okay, I still used newspaper but I tripled the layers (after cleaning up the spots where paint seeped through), and went back to work. The results were enormously better. It took several days as I had to let the paint dry in between coats. I had to force myself out of the house one day lest I mess with it while the paint was still tacky. Even I know you have to let the paint dry before adding another coat. So, I went to a matinee to ensure leaving the piece alone. It wasn’t until fifteen minutes into the film that I realized I had already seen it! Must have been paint fumes that made me do it.
And then there was the problem of where to set up shop. My apartment is small, but it does have a balcony. I schlepped the thing outside where the lighting is good in the morning, but the space was so tight, I could only do one side at a time ’cause there wasn’t enough room to walk around the piece without bumping into it and getting paint on my clothing. So, I wore the same sweats and tee shirt every time and dubbed them my painting attire.
In the afternoon I carried it into the kitchen to let it sit and dry without getting bits of plant and tree debris blown onto the still sticky surface. After a week of this ritual, it was done. It’s not perfect, but it’s good enough. It makes me happy and serves a useful purpose. Anything that doesn’t has got to go! Less is more.
Now, after the agony has subsided, I’m taking on a new project – with a little help from my friends. My friend Sally, a real artist, has
launched me with the proper materials to take on a kitchen stool to complement my fabulous red kitchen island. Another friend, Jan, also a real artist has volunteered her garage space plus her expertise.
We have begun the project. I’m thinking no matter what, it will be fun. If all else fails, we can just eat the mushroom and see if we get more creative, It worked for Alice!