Sunday, January 29, 2012
Several interesting pieces of old furniture turned up while clearing out the attic of the garage at my husband’s family home. As luck would have it, they were just calling my name asking to be brought back to life. Among the pieces was a little rocking chair. Although it was covered with cobwebs and dirt, it was obvious that someone had started to strip the many layers of paint from the chair before putting it aside. There isn’t anyone left to verify, but I can only assume that the project was started by my father-in-law. I wasn't a part of the family very long before he passed away, but I remember him as being a very industrious person. He was always looking for a new project to tackle and wasn’t afraid to jump right in. Furniture refinishing was one of his many projects. He did complete several pieces but this one appears to have been too much for him.
As anyone who has ever tried to strip paint and varnish from an old piece of furniture knows, those spindles will either make or break you. When I looked at the chair, I could tell that many hours had already been spent taking off the old layers and the spindles were indeed the breaking point. I counted five layers of paint in the twists and turns of the spindles. The little chair was just gasping out its last breaths and I knew I had to help it.
I haven’t worked on furniture for quite some time and I knew that what was left to do would be very difficult. A friend recommended an environmentally friendly stripping formula. “The paint will just peel right of”, he said. Can’t believe I fell for that one. Countless hours were wasted while I waited for the product to dissolve the paint. Sorry environmentalists, sometimes you just have to bring out the big guns and that’s just what I did.
I won’t bore you with all the moaning and groaning involved in the project. Stripping furniture is a smelly, dirty and back breaking job. I have to admit that there were many times during the process that I would set the chair aside and debate about whether or not to finish it. After all, there was no guarantee that I would be successful and I didn’t even have any place to put the finished piece. But then I would look at it sitting in a corner of the garage looking so forlorn that I would renew my effort to bring it back to save it's life.
What a job! I agonized over it for almost a year battling between wanting to give up and knowing I could do it if I just tried a little harder. Well, it’s finally finished. With a new fiber board seat stained to look like leather nailed in place and a spot cleared in the family room for it to sit, I can breathe a sigh of relief. It really is a sweet little chair that not only represents my determination, but is a nice little reminder of a time gone by. Oh, you’re welcome little chair.