Wednesday, May 3, 2017

A Mahogany China Cabinet in Bone

I gave this china cabinet every out I could before I painted it. It was up on craigslist for an obscenely fair price for weeks, and weeks, and weeks. I watched, I waited, but unbelievably, no one else grabbed it. So I emailed the seller and took an exceptionally pretty drive winding through narrow backroads lined with century old stone walls. Tolland is nowhere near East Hampton, but somehow the fastest route never touched a highway. This made me happy. There are places in Connecticut that are still so wild and pristine. Time has touched these little hamlets and solitary homesteads, but never troubled them much. My friend Jess calls it 'God's Country', and she's right. It's immortal, and in its stubborn denial of the prodding fingers of technology and urban sprawl, it's like New England's Olympus- aloof and apart. And the guy that helped me load the hutch into my truck was a real sweetheart- so 10/10 buying adventure. The hutch and I got off to a happy start.
               I put it up on Facebook available for custom refinishing, as I typically do, but (as I never do) also offered it for sale as-is at a lower price, because it really was in excellent condition. As with the little villages I drove through on my journey to buy it, time had rested so very gently on its shoulders. But no one bought it as is, and no one commissioned me to paint it for them. So I waited it. Sometimes it takes a while, sometimes the right client will come along weeks after. April whirled by, and I was dead busy with custom work and fretting about speeches and tv spots. I'm sure the china cabinet didn't mind much, but it weighed heavily on me. It loomed in my workshop, blocking my light during photoshoots, and getting in the way constantly (It's solid mahogany, one piece, and weighs a crap-ton).
              When I returned from my crazy long trip to Ohio to lecture on furniture refinishing (can we talk about how GORGEOUS the Columbus Museum of Art is!! AND how nice everyone in Ohio is!!!), I knew it was time to do something about my dark mahogany friend. I couldn't wait any longer. So I took a deep deeeeeeep breath, and started painting it. And when it was done, I realized it might have been waiting all these years for a bit of paint. You'll argue with me maybe, but I'll point out that this piece was mass produced, beautifully, immaculately, thoughtfully produced, but mass produced nonetheless. It had thousands of sisters and brothers precisely identical to it, and now after 75 years, it's an individual- one of a kind and unique. I think the color suits it. It was too dark, too heavy, and now it's a symphony of curves and lines.
             I'll miss this piece when it goes. It doesn't loom in my work shop anymore, it dances.






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