Thu., June 9, 2005
The serendipity of a find is wonderful. But another part of treasure hunting is looking for ways to incorporate what we have found into our lives. Junking is all about bringing home an object that caught your eye and then letting it fire up your imagination. It takes a certain person to see the potential in something that is broken, battered or incomplete.
When I was a girl, and needed a table – a little taller than the usual bedside table – beside my big 1920s bed, my clever grandmother cast an eye around the contents of the garage and grabbed an old kitchen stool. The leather-like cover on the top of the stool, which had seen years of use in the kitchen and later at the workbench in the garage, was split and beyond repair. So she removed it and sprayed-painted the base of the stool black. Then, she picked up a sheet of plywood, traced a circle in the center, cut it out with my grandfather’s jigsaw and screwed the wood onto the top of the stool.
In no time she had assembled a new table, especially for me, out of junk in the garage. I was impressed.
That afternoon we sat down with a bag of sewing scraps and cut squares of fabric. With her standing beside me, guiding my hands, I stitched together the colorful squares, remnants of my dresses, my grandmother’s blouses and leftovers from quilting projects, to make a table topper to cover the plain white round tablecloth.
Years later, when one of my daughters needed a table beside her high, ornate, antique iron bed, I remembered my grandmother’s solution. It took a couple of outings, but I found an old stool, identical to the one she had used, in the dusty back corner of a thrift store.
I took a shortcut and purchased a round pre-cut tabletop from the local home improvement warehouse, but when the table was assembled, topped with the patchwork cloth my grandmother had helped me make, I was proud of my effort and warmed by a memory.
Sometimes we have to make-do and use what we have. But, by remaking what we have into what we want or need, we get to use the creative spark that is somewhere within each of us.
That way, a practical, utilitarian, object becomes something special.
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