With all the work that I have been doing with furniture lately, I have developed quite the respect for furniture design and well made pieces. And nothing breaks my heart more than to see a gorgeous piece that has been not only been neglected but abused.
This weekend, I picked up a glorious old vanity. The owner told the most wonderful story, about how his parents had lived in occupied Japan and bought this pieces. Solid oak and well appointed. Well built and professionally finished.
But it had been passed down to a different sibling and in the following years, this once lovely piece of furniture had been relegated to a damp, dusty basement. And if you’re reading tis, you probably know what dampness does to wood, especially on veneer. Even as we were carrying it from the basement, pieces of the basic structure were literally falling off! But we had the good opportunity to retrieve every last piece and it is now undergoing restoration.
From the appearance of the bottom, it almost looks like it was sitting in four inches of water.
We cleared all of the decaying, which is most of the “skin” of the piece. The next step was to start gluing the pieces of the legs back together… we used all the clamps that we had available!
That is the nice thing about working with these older projects, they are all wood and wood can be made whole again. The newer furniture being churned out of the factories today are made of cheap plywood and pressboard and vinyl and plastic made to look like wood. They fall apart easily and after their initial “shine”, they really show their true bones. Or lack there of. That is what I look for whenever I am presented with an opportunity… the piece has to have “good bones”.
Which reminds me, on our recent treasure hunting, I found an old Singer sewing machine. I love those old ones with the treadle and iron base, I have one that was passed down to me from my mother’s mother, but it is immaculate and I could never do anything to damage it. One day, I would like to make the necessary repairs to get it going, I believe it only needs a belt and a good cleaning.
So, I found one that the primary cabinet was nearly fallen apart (much like the vanity above). But the side drawers were in fantastic shape, so I dragged it home. I’ve since removed the base and carefully taken apart the cabinets and they are progressing.
I am painting it the soft green shade that I used in my sewing room, I figured that I could use it to store bindings and elastic and those other little packages that seem to resist being organized.
The sewing machine, much to my regret, was sold for scrap, but it wasn’t operational and definitely wasn’t worth putting too much effort or money in doing so. I am still trying to figure out what to do with treadle base, if you have ideas, please share.
So much more work to do, and sitting behind this computer isn’t getting it done!