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May 2010 Blog Archives

New Life to an Old Chair


The last piece of furniture worked on by Sarah, Furniture Saver Extraordinaire, has been my grandfather's chair. It used to sit in the corner of the living room in the house he'd built on Ada Ave. in Muskegon, Michigan.  My grandparent's style was French Provincial, which I will never quite fully embrace, however, I associate this chair with him - my amazingly talented and dear grandfather.  And I can imagine him sitting there with his newspaper in the sunshine - so it is so very worth the saving.  In the photo above he's a little cut off, but you can see him proudly playing his Lowrey organ while a friend helps the lower peddles and my mother accompanies him on guitar.  And who is that fat little sprat you ask? Ahem, it's the current owner of the chair, of course.

I had the hardest time picking out fabric - again. While I tend to go for more modern fabrics, I wanted this chair to be timeless, but something still cool, and honor the style of the chair.  In the end, I went with a color that I will always love (greens and brown), had a Hawaiian significance (it looks like the seaweed limu!), will hopefully not go out of style - and is a patterm and color which my grandfather might approve.

My rabbit, Mr. Owen Fluoride's nesting habit had taken a toll on the already ailing chair - but I knew that it would be returned to its glory when I met the right upholsterer.  So, while it's true that you can never truly go home again - you can get the chair in the corner reupholstered. To see the final, go here....Grandpa's wingback!

Furniture Saver Extraordinaire


It's true, she is. And to prove it - look at my couch she just saved from the depths of sadness.  It took me forever to find a fabric I felt worked with the style of the sofa, wouldn't go out of style too soon, and was durable for all animals.  There is one more chair to be saved, but I'm a little nervous on picking the final fabric since it was a chair that my Grandpa used to sit in. I want him to approve, but I want it to be fun as well.  We'll see where we get with it.

Below is Sarah's final business card - and what a fun project it's been to work on!   She's a delight and super talented with a needle and hammer.  Last month I posted some of the sketches I'd done in coming up with this final.  In filling out her identity questionnaire, Sarah had described her style as "Fresh, imaginative but functional. Polished Eclecticism, Friendly and Curious". She also loved the image of a phoenix, rising up out of the ashes and being reborn - much like her craft of saving furniture.   I knew that I didn't want her phoenix to be too masculine and searched for something a little more folksy.   After meeting her and hearing what colors she was attracted to, I opted to go away from her dark green and gold pallate, into something more youthful and fun - but still strong.  Her clientele is almost all women so ruby and chocolate was a good choice. Pair it with a french gray and viola!  Sophisticated yet playful.  

If you are in Idaho - look for Sarah's work and let her work her magic on your heirlooms.  You won't be disappointed.


San Francisco: Before and Afters



THE NAUGHTY: Once upon a time when I was small, my grandfather owned a little wind up toy that had a curvacious rubber genie lady sitting on a pillow holding her hands up behind her head. The whole thing was attached to a little wooden platform and under this platform was a crank. When you turned the crank, the rubber lady would wiggle back and forth at the waist.  My sister and I would take turns winding the crank and humming "All the Girls in France" that we'd learned from Bugs Bunny cartoons.  

It could have been that little device that got me fascinated - or it could have been Nancy Drew which first sparked my fascination with Automata.  

There was a Scholastic book called, The Mystery of the Silent Friends by Robin Gottlieb though which probably sealed the deal. The story starts with a girl whose father works in an antique store (okay - how fun would that be?)  One day, the shop acquires three mechanical dolls all from the same estate.  Each doll performs a specific task when it is wound up: one doll writes, one doll draws, and the third doll plays a small piano or harpsichord.  The girl somehow discovers that the previous owner hid his vast fortune and left the three dolls as clues.  The drawing doll draws a picture of a monkey, the writing doll writes the word "cage" and the musical doll adds four notes---C, A, G, and E---to the end of the piece she plays. The girl and her friend solve the mystery, of course - and my interest in these "toys for princes" was solidified.   

THE GOOD:  The world of automatans, whirligigs, kinetic sculpture and wind ups have been around for a very long time. Made by tinkering men who like to make inanimate creatures move through the process of parts, springs and cranks. Some of the more ornate ones were built in the 1700s and included automatans able to draw a small gallery, write poems in more than one language, or play a collection songs on their tiny harpsichord. Absolutely charming and intricately impressive.

THE UGLY: Last time I was in Hart, Michigan, my family stumbled upon the Hart Historic District's Animated Doll museum. I'm not sure if it's still there, but it was filled with the most bizarre and creepy figures I'd ever seen. Some rescued from window displays and others just put together out of odd parts to create a story. The whole thing was housed in an old factory and it was a set worthy of a horror flik or Tim Burton film.   I highly recommend you go there. 

New Works: Upholstery Goddess

Hello there. I've being having a fun time of late with Sarah Ann Mayer, who prefers to go by "Furniture Saver Extraordinaire", a fitting title for a talented, self taught upholsteress. She's leaving Portland to go back to Idaho for a much needed soul check, but before she leaves, I'm sending her off with a fun, classic business identity. 

Below is just a sneak peak into the design process of my thumbnails and sketches for her logo.  I have to say, this has been a fantastic project to work on, one - because Sarah's has a keen eye for cool aesthetic and two - because I get to go pick out fabric for the sofa she is upholstering.   Win - win! 

More soon on all that...


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