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Food, Travel, Design and the occassional wordiness

Design: Mosaic: The story of a chair April 19, 2010


A lot of things are on my mind lately but as goes the rumor, pushing grout between cracks of glass really does pacify me. What beats grouting, is peeling off dry glue and for that matter, peeling skins has always had this amazing effect on me, I remember going through my double-cookied appendicitis, 9 years old, lonely, scared and proud, pouring glue on, drying and peeling it off my palms, because it would keep my mind off the unexplainable pain.

But my love for grouting, peeling and glass in general, had been overshadowed for a while on this project. It took me 10 months, 3 work-stations, a 200 mile move, 2 back-breaking sciatica episodes, multiple snowstorms and climactic distractions, 1 wedding, 2 overseas trips and finally 1 job-quitting-freedom to finish what I had been cooking in my brain since last May. This chair thus commemorates the eventfulness of my life and goes beyond the feel-good factor of grouting and peeling to say life is happening, while I am looking out the window lamenting and waiting for it to start. That was Dunkirk for me.

Don’t get me wrong, I am a fast worker, depending on the magnitude of work, I generally finish projects the same day (or couple) I start them. I am compulsively against putting things off, I prefer my monkeys off my back, on a pedestal, singing praises for me.

Mom and I were lost somewhere on Wellesley Island, Thousand Islands (St. Lawrence area) in New York, we stopped to ask for directions at a casual tiny yard sale and saw this beauty basking in the sun, fresh out of the attic. Yes we had space in my car and yes it really didn’t cost much but it was also very easy to see why my company wasn’t so eager about putting this heavy, moldy, dirty, broken wooden skeleton of a chair, in my car, and taking it up a short flight of stairs, home, 7 hours later.
I texted a picture to my husband, saying how awesome it would be at home once I’m done working on it and that Mom liked it too and that it would be his… and then I told Mom that I would work on it and then gift t to my husband; a well-honed trick. And I know she didn’t mind even though she saw it before it left my mouth. See in our family we buy things we want to buy and then pass it off as a benevolent or philanthropic act of gifting. No wonder I have more dresses at home that don’t fit me, clothes that my mother picked up for the design, the fabric, the print, not so much for my size.
So, down went the rear seats and obstructed my rear view for the upcoming 6 hour long drive home.
And along came, a huge carton of (rare and old) empty beer bottles, two large mirrors, one broken chandelier and the works. No I didn’t plan on birthday gifting the rest to my husband or hers; and no, Mother was not unhappy. Lets just say its not as hard to explain my visions to my mother as it is to most other people I know.

I worked on several mirrors and lamps last year and then after a show in Boalsburg in June, started getting a hard-to-explain back-ache. 3 months and 4 misdiagnosis later, they told me I had popped my discs and that I was not to bend, pick up or carry anything heavy. Doctors hypothesized how this could be related to my vehicular accident from 2 years ago, or from my picking up boxes at work, but in my mind the chair from Wellesley Island remained a suspect. Either way, I stopped working on the chair (I had only done the top mosaic by then, no grouting, just the glass).
I finished grouting the top and laying the glass in December of 2009, the same weekend as my Bridal Shower after the fourth and last friend left. I also finished painting and embellishing the back.

By then my husband had probably started sharing some of my vision too, something that was instrumental in the chair surviving a massive “cutback” that many bottles and lamps did not. The cutback that happened when we moved from my apartment in Dunkirk to our older one in PA. The half-done chair came home finding itself knocked and scratched by boxes and bunnies; home to the tiny apartment which was too small for one person, but okay for 2 people with a bunny, 4.5 computers, excessive furniture and a chair.

In one of those distasteful am-I-doing-the-right-thing mornings of staying home, finishing 2 loads of dishes and 2 meals-a-cooking, I decided to start working on the chair. In a gusto, I finished grouting, staining and painting in 2.5 days. We are getting the cushions ready today and finally my husband has a “Monday Gift”, something he didn’t get on his birthday, Valentines Day, our engagement anniversary or even our wedding, he can have it, today for being man enough to survive Monday.

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