Saturday, November 5, 2016

A Pennsylvania Dutch Bookshelf

I love going off the beaten path when it comes to furniture. Sometimes I feel like if I paint one more white oak dresser I'm going to scream, or drown myself in martini. So this vintage pine bookshelf was a delightful breath of fresh air. I spotted it at the flea market weeks ago and then in preparation for a big rain storm I carried it down to our basement to store. And then, even though I was doing it custom for a client, and had already put the first coat of paint on it, I ignored it for almost a month, mostly because I didnt feel like lugging it back out of the basement, which is naughty, but there you have it.

        When I did finally carry it back out into the open air earlier this week I powered right through the rest of the project. The client wanted a bold sunflower yellow with a lighter yellow backboard. After it was all painted I sent her a little sneak peek and we agreed it was lacking, needed a little something more to jazz it up, she asked if I could paint something on the two paneled doors on the bottom, to which I replied:

She loved the idea of Fraktur, though the unicorn was a close second. So we used this image as a starting off point. It's a piece of Fraktur by master folk artist Samuel Kindig Gottschall (1808-1898). Fraktur was a form of ink and watercolor decoration used to embellish important documents (awards of merit, marriage licenses, birth and baptismal certificates etc). The art was transported to the Americas in the late 18th and early 19th century by German speaking immigrants, and was most popular in the Mid Atlantic Dutch communities through the third quarter of the 19th century. The whimsical designs were either hand painted or later printed for larger distribution. 

Here's the inspiration piece we selected:
c.1834 by Samuel Gottschall

I set to work first penciling in the design, then hand painting it with craft acrylic paint, then I sanded and distressed the entire bookcase and sealed the whole thing with dark wax for an aged feel.

And here's my re-interpretation of it for the bookcase!


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