Who knew what could have happened on that fateful Friday afternoon exactly one week ago today. It was just after noon. I saw the “Yard Sale” sign and glanced down the street (occupational hazard – don’t follow thrifters). It was close, and still going on. I didn’t need or want to stop.
But I did.
I flipped around and pulled to a stop in front of the house. Nothing much to see – clothes, used appliances, and an old wingback chair in desperate need of reupholstery. Upon closer examination, I found the chair to be surprisingly sturdy. The interior foam still firm. At that point, the homeowner approached me, “This would be a great chair reupholstered.” I nodded slowly. I have never reupholstered before in my life. I can barely sew. But I suddenly had visions of this chair, newly draped in a luscious Joel Dewberry pattern. In my fantasy, I have a cup of tea in hand and I’m patting the chair, saying, “This old thing? Just a little weekend project.” Sip tea and wink. Awesome. “I’ll give you a good price for it – $5.00.” I can’t remember my response, because I think at that point the heavens opened up and a ray of sunlight shone down on my new prize (cue choir of angels). Her grandson helped me load it into the car, and I was off.
Truth be told, this all started with a recent trip to the county library. Wandering the aisles, I came across “Care and Repair of Everyday Treasures: A Step-by-Step Guide to Cleaning and Restoring Your Antiques and Collectibles” by Judith Miller. A wonder of an all-inclusive manual, it includes repair and restoration techniques for everything from textiles and leather to ceramics, jewelry, and stoneware. The best part is that the book feeds my OCD by laying out the tools and supplies needed for each task Richard Scarry-style – with a labeled photograph of all the items. Mmm-wah! Anyway, there was a section of upholstery, reminding me that I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of it. Layer upon layer, tedious tasks – did I mention my OCD?
So I took the chair home. And I researched. And I researched. The first thing I learned is that removing the original upholstery is called “ripping off” (duh.) and can take upwards of 15 hours carefully removing old layers and tens of thousands of staples…carefully. You should should label each piece you remove and use it as a pattern for your new fabric. I couldn’t restrain myself anymore – I was out in the garage removing staples before you could say, “But it’s 107 degrees out in southern Arizona this time of year.” And in the next hour or so, I realized I would develop a relationship with this piece of furniture. Full disclosure – it stinks. Bad. My poor two-year old fanned her face all the way home from the yard sale, “Iss tinky, mama.” I believe there was also a small, old dog who enjoyed the chair, as evident in a snot-like mess smeared into the base webbing under the chair. But I still love it. I do. It’s like another child of mind. Kinda, not really. Okay, it’s like a butterfly cocoon just waiting to burst forth with beautiful life. Whatever. I named it Harvey and now it’s at an air-conditioned warehouse where I can work without worrying about heatstroke. I named it Harvey, because it’s like that gross old guy who stinks and goes to the Super China Buffet with one eye missing but doesn’t bother to wear an eye patch so you have to not look at his gaping, black eye socket all through lunch. So you can’t eat your lunch anyway. Anyway, Harvey makes no concessions or apologies. “Don’t look – eat your damn food and go about your damn day,” he says. He’s cantankerous. But what he doesn’t mention is that for years and years, he provided a place of comfort and solace for a very small woman (told by the firmness of the foam) without so much as a murmur of complaint.