Oooh! That was the most comments any of my blog posts has ever received! Thank you, lovely readers, for taking the time to read and respond with your ideas about what I should do with the dresser. (And thank you for forgiving all the typos in my last post...proofreading becomes tricky when the little ones wake from naptime.)
I think you were all right - painting the dresser would be a shame. So I've taken your advice and I've left it with the woodgrain showing. Today I began the intricate and time-consuming task of sanding the dark stain out of all the decorative grooves and the door panels. I'm considering investing in a little hobby sander - I've just about removed all my fingerprints trying to get into the tiny corners! (Hmmm. Maybe a bank job could be on the cards now.) At any rate, there is still a fair bit of work needed to chase away all traces of that dark woodstain and finish the beeswaxing. But it can wait.
I also made a decision to put the dresser in the living room; our flooring, bookcases and side tables are oak veneered, so the dresser complements them very nicely. Also, it is ever-so-slightly too wide for the kitchen space in which I intended it to live. I am undecided on what to do with the top half of the dresser. It was intended to display plates, and so only has very shallow shelves. For now it is safe and dry in our coal shed.
We have gained some much-needed storage in the living room. I was able to unpack a box that has been sealed for two and a half years (since we moved to America) - our board games! And the girls' puzzles, wooden train track, Lincoln Logs and Matchbox car collection are now all neatly housed in an easy-to-access but hidden-from-view place.
This morning, my hands ache, my triceps ache, my shoulders ache and those little muscles between the backs of my ribs - are they called intercostals? - well, whatever they're called, they ache, too. Yesterday, I spent about four hours working on this beauty.
This gorgeous Welsh dresser is the most fabulous thing of many fabulous things I've received from fellow Freecyclers. Freecycle? If you're not already a member, check it out! There are local groups all over the place, and once you've joined you can offer or ask for all kinds of things. I've given away things like baby stuff, sporting equipment, empty jars and bottles and a portable CD player; I've received a tent, raspberry canes, fabric remnants and this dresser. The aim of Freecycle is to keep goods from ending up in our ever-growing mountain of rubbish. I've even seen cars on offer!
Anyway, so I picked up this dresser on Tuesday. I couldn't believe my eyes! I was just hoping for something with a few shelves I could use for extra storage...I never imagined the guy would open his garage to reveal a fifty year old solidly-built oak dresser with pretty detailing. I stupidly asked if he was sure he wanted to give it away! Luckily for me, he did.
So yesterday I set to work on bringing it back to life. But before I started, I tucked into one of these babies:
Okay. Truth be told, I might have eaten three of these gooey, pillowy cinnamon rolls. My lovely friend who keeps this blog sent me the recipe and it is the bomb (by the way. check out Kate's blog - she's a fabulous cook.). I did find the caramel a little salty, so if you make them, reduce the salt to half a teaspoon.
After I recovered from my self-induced sugar coma, I set to work. Out came the power tools. Oh yes. I love my power sander. Two things: power tools are great for perfectly flat pieces of wood, but when it comes to old stuff, nothing beats good old glasspaper and a whole lot of elbow grease; secondly, when you're sanding fifty years of woodstain, wax, grime and dust off of secondhand furniture, wear a face mask. I didn't, and I won't tell you how I know, but I inhaled a lot of dust.
It was round about at this point in the sanding when the postman knocked with a sweet little parcel sent by my friend Kate of the afore-mentioned food blog. Like everything she does, it was wrapped with such care. What a joy in my day to recieve a package wrapped in brown paper and string! Inside was this book, one of many which was specially printed and distributed throughout the UK in celebration of World Book Night. I was lucky enough to also be given a copy of this book by another Bood Giver - we're reading that one for Book Club this month. What a great initiative to get people reading again.
After opening my parcel (and possibly having another sneaky cinnamon bun), I got back to work. Sanding the top of the dresser was hard work. It probably took two hours. But, oh, how I was rewarded!
It came up so beautifully. The woodgrain just sings. I can't wait to massage a few coats of beeswax polish into it. I'm in a quandry now, though. I had planned to paint the dresser and the hutch (which I did not have time to make a start on yesterday), possibly this colour. But the oak is so pretty I am now wondering if I should just wax the whole thing and leave it. What do you think?
As an aside, I spent an hour playing with fabric scraps yesterday morning while the little ones built dens. I used the tiniest scraps of fabric left over from a log cabin cushion cover I'm working on to create a secret something that may find its way into a package for my lovely 4 Seasons Exchangepartner. I may not send it, because it's not really Spring colours, but just in case I do, I won't give too much away here now. Rosie sure liked it.
Well, that's it for this novel of a blog post. I'll share more pictures as I progress on the dresser. Do give me your opinion on whether I should paint it or simply wax it.
And then go have a look at what's going on in other folks' creative spaces at kootoyou.
The view from my kitchen sink is changing every day...our little raised bed is bestowing gentle surprises each morning. This new-to-me garden is slowly revealing its secrets...a sprinkling of snowdrops, a cluster of primroses, tall, proud daffodils and today: a hellebore! The previous owners weren't gardeners - that much is certain - but it was their first home together and I can see that they did plant Springtime packages of love into this earth.
However, another gray day greeted us this morning. A veil of ice lay glittering on my car's windscreen at dawn. Winter isn't over yet.
Before we moved into this house last November, I had visions of giving every wall a fresh coat of paint...something not too far off white to add light and space and just make everything feel clean. I envisioned a blank canvas - having jettisoned so many of our possessions in our emigration attempt two years ago, it felt like an opportunity to start afresh with a new palette. But then the realities of moving house with little ones set in. I managed to paint one whole room and half of another room before we moved in. Now, we are waiting for warmer weather so that we can leave doors and windows open to allow paint fumes to dissipate.
There was one project I did want to get done soon, though. Something fairly small, managable and achievable (for achievable, read: finishable). Something that would make an immediate impact and would (hopefully) create a sense of fun for us and for anyone who walks through the front door.
A chalkboard wall! Maybe it's the teacher in me (truth be told, I'd hate to have to use one every day in the classroom - I can still remember that horrible, teeth-rattling sound of chalk squeaking on board, the dry, dusty feeling chalk leaves on your fingers), but I do love chalkboards. Perhaps it's the inversion of colour - we are used to black ink on white paper. It is surprising and exciting to see stark white lines and swathes of colour explode out of the black surface.
The scale of the writing surface is exciting, too. To have a whole wall upon which to make our mark is inspiring and freeing - think of the spontaneity of graffiti on billboards. The orientation of the chalkboard is just right for a small person who is just beginning to hone her fine motor skills...we aren't forced to hunch over a little rectangle of flimsy paper. We can grasp the chalk with our whole hand and make marks by moving our whole arm. Writing and drawing can be a whole body activity - jumping and kneeling and even laying down can extend the range of our marks...what fun!
There's space for several contributors to collaborate and inspire and weave a story together.
A hot air balloon floating...
...over a sea full of whales and strange fish.
An American flag waving next to the George Cross (England's flag).
You can even surprise and entertain your parents, who didn't know you had taught yourself how to write.