Adrawerable.

It’s been a crazy couple of months for Mrs. Hair Tonic & Horse Feathers & I. I’ll spare you the ghastly details but since October of 2011 we’ve lived in an apartment as our cute little house decided to bite the hands that have fed it. Major plumbing catastrophes. But alas, that’s not the point of this post. These drawer linings are:

A fancy drawer liner.

You’ll only see it when it’s really really time to do laundry.

A while ago, I came across a treasure trove of 1920’s-30’s era furniture that was just sitting outside a nearby neighbor’s house, waiting to be thrown away. This little dresser drawer was among those items. I decided that I wanted a put some drawer linings inside of them and I really wanted have fun with those. Now I know that not a single guest would likely every see these (and neither would I really) which makes it the equivalent of ironing your socks & underwear but oh well.

You can take a piece of foam core (or you could use cardboard but we wary of the corrugation as it might cause ripples) and cut it to the exact size of the bottom of your drawer. From there, using scrapbook paper, vintage wallpaper, computer printouts and whatever other ephemera you can find, you can let your artistic & collage-making sensibilities go wild and really create whatever you want here. I love checkerboard patterns & Victorian etchings so that’s what I did here. I found 4 different  kinds of scrapbook papers that I liked (two darkish, two lightish) and made the checkerboard, adhering it using Modge Podge. Then I found an image of a Victorian woman & a butterfly on the internet, printed those out and put them over the checker board. I also printed out a very small poem by Margaret Atwood and put that in there as well for fun and then Modge Podged over the whole thing.  A good resource for vintage ephemera and photographs & graphics to print out and use is The Graphics Fairy.

So that’s just ONE of the 5 or 6 drawers. Each one can be different, the same, themed, or-whatever. I’m going to make each one different but all with a Victorian whimsy flavor to them to tie them all together. If you try this, do send pictures as I’d love to see what you come up with!

PS ~ I don’t scrapbook but scrapbook paper is incredibly wonderful to have around. I have books and books of it and have used it countless times in so many projects, including this one. Whenever you see that a book of it is onsale, get it! Don’t waste money on individual sheets as you get a much better deal on the books.

Music : interrupted / Piano : repurposed ~ { Part III }

First of all, this is part III which obviously relate to part II and part I. If you’ve just stumbled onto this blog, it might interest you to check those out as well. Second of all, there will be a part IV to this. Though the armoire is standing and functional, there still is a bit to do yet aesthetic-wise. And also, this is not really a how-to so much as it is a this-is-what-I-did. I know that some people find this site via a Google search seeking how that might go about repurposing an old piano they may have. If you have any specific questions regarding how I did something, send me a note.

But in a nutshell, “it’s alive!

From Beyond. A Frankensteinian amalgamation: "The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the light into the peace and safety of a new dark age." ~ HP Lovecraft

I’m working backwards here by showing the most finished picture before showing the ramp up to it. But I got excited. Can you blame me? Doesn’t this look fun? I’m so pleased that it turned out as well as it did. Vision is one thing but execution is everything. But I am getting ahead of myself. So you saw where it was last time; a hollow shell. Well there isn’t that much more to than that really.

Here's a look at her shelf guts before we sow her back up.

Once we sat the TV inside we realized we had a major problem. The screen, more or less fits inside the hole and most of the TV casing is covered. This is desirable, yes. However ~ this meant that the remote control sensor, which was right at the bottom center of the casing, was blocked. To get the remote to work I had to literally stand right in front of the television, hold the remote just inches away, aim it straight down at the television and hope that what ever magic rays that make remote controls work would squeeze themselves into the crevice and change a channel. What’s the point of a remote then, right?  You might’ve noticed the solution in the photo above but in case you didn’t:

Holey piano, Batman

A hole right in the center.  Now without too much difficulty at all, I can again change channels just like a modern man. The only drawback is I can’t be too far left or right of the hole to use the remote. If our particular TV had a plug in sensor like some do, we’d be in the pink. That would’ve been very helpful.  I will paint or stain the inside of the hole so it disappears somewhat ~ or perhaps cover it with an antique radio speaker cloth (like this) which would hide it yet would allow whatever necessary magic remote control rays to arrive to television. It may be a moot point as the hole basically disappears when the cover is up (see the first picture in this post).

As I mentioned, there will be a part IV to this as there’s still work I’d like to do to it. I want the television to be able to be 100% concealed whenever I want it to be so I will have to figure out how to put hinges back onto the music stand that is currently missing. Initially I was going to have it flip straight up but there are several reasons why that won’t work. Plan B is to split the piece down the center. Ideally I’d love to be able to have them close like this player piano‘s does but I think the shape of my piano simply prevents that from working. What I’ll likely end up doing, if the moulding on the edges permits, is turn the single music stand into 2 cabinet-esque doors I can open and close.

It’s been mentioned a few times by a few folks that I should do this as a business. That’s an interesting thought. This project was one of the biggest pains in the neck ever but in the end it worked. If you’ve got an old piano that you don’t play and you’d like to do something like this (or something else altogether), do drop me a note. You’ll find I can be quite awesome, but humble.

It must be said that I couldn’t have completed this project without the help of Kevin Garcia, whom I referenced in one of my very first Hair Tonic & Horse Feathers posts, as well as Mark Rosellini. Even more thanks goes to my wife for allowing this project to go on INDOORS for so long. Hopefully a nice piece of unique antique furniture to hide our ugly black & shiny modern devices will make up for the trouble .

Part IV coming soon.

Lost Springs, Boll Weevil & Jocassee Valley

Every once in a while, something blips on my radar that is so incredibly magical, it never leaves. I end up thinking about it for months and years afterward. This song & this video, ‘Lost Springs‘ is one of those ‘things':

Lost Springs By Nick Zynda

click to watch 'Lost Springs' By Nick Zynda

The song, “Boll Weevil” is a song that I’ve been obsessed for many years. It’s essentially a Moby-esque ‘folktronica‘ mashup done by the late Greg Hale Jones using the vocals, recorded 72 years ago, of early 20th century folk vocalist Vera Hall singing (acapella) the song “Boll Weevil Hollar” to which he added his own instrumentation.

The film itself is a brilliant concept which I cannot help but to compare to a scene in one of my favorite movies of all time, ‘O Brother, Where Art Tho?’. It also reminds me of an absolutely fascinating true story about a town that used to be called Jocassee Valley but is now a lake called Lake Jocassee and the hotel that still sits 300 feet beneath it. Ever since I heard about Jocassee, I can’t stop thinking of it. I’ve written songs about it. Very haunting, very magical, very…tragic.

But I digress. It’s a brilliant song and a clever video that Mr. Nick Zynda has made for it. I absolutely applaud his smart amalgamation of modern technology (green screen & underwater footage) and old-fashioned themes and classic film making techniques (by using miniatures). Hopefully this short film, Greg Hale Jones’ song & the story of Jocassee Valley will inspire you as it did me.

Recent thriftscores…

It’s been a while since my wife and I have been able to get out and do some good old-fashioned hunting and gathering of trinkets and treasures. Between Craigslist and a massive garage sale we came across this morning, we found some great gems this week.

Pay no attention to the man behind the hair tonic & horse feathers.

a fine find.

The aformentioned garage sale was the biggest one I’ve ever seen. Blocks and blocks of folks out on their lawns in the early morning, hawking their wares, pawning their junk into our garages instead of theirs. My wife and I have a thing for oval mirrors & frames and this one caught our eye right off. We showed interested in this well-loved thing and the owner says, “Do you like it? Take it”.  Sounded happy to get rid of it. Fantastic. We’d just been there 10 minutes and we were already given a free antique frame. It needs a fair amount of tender loving care and a new mirror, but stay tuned and I’ll post a picture of it up in my house, looking like a million bucks. 

Octo-armed chandelier

8 arms & 16 Candles. Sounds like HP Lovecraft's take on an 1980's coming-of-age film.

My wife gets all the credit for this one. She’s been a noiseless patient spider looking for just the right chandelier for quite a while. The ones that we’ve liked at antique shops have been perfect but just too far out of our budget so she’s been scouring Craigslist for just the right combination of looks & price. She found this gorgeous pre-war era chandelier in (hoity-toity) Beverly Hills for the wonderful price of….one hundred dollars.  It might’ve been the very last thing in Beverly Hills that cost $100.  It’s usually more than we’ll pay for an antique but we’ve seen other $imilar chandelier$ go for beaucoup buck$ el$ewhere.

 We got it for a song. A short song at that.  

WELL DONE MRS. HAIR TONIC & HORSEFEATHERS!

A phrase from a high school Spanish textbook that will finally apply: Hay dos tablas rojas.

These two little red tables caught our eye as we were driving past them on the street. The owner originally wanted $30 for both but my consummate bargainer wife got them into our car for $20 instead. We love these tables but we’re thinking that we might be able to make our money back and then some if I fix them up and sell them. Crafty, antiquey people these days love red furniture. Red furniture is the ying to shabby-chic-white’s yang. So we shall see. In any case they’re in great shape and the attention they need is very minimal. I’ll keep you posted as to where these end up. P.S.: Do you like the little knick-knacky frames we got as well?  

Tengo tres sillas. Spanish 101 strikes again!

Again, at this morning’s epic yardsale extravaganza, we picked up these 3 chairs, which by the seller’s estimation, probably from the teens or twenties. The asking price was $10 each but my wife, as per usual, convinced them to let us take them for half of that. I’ve had success in the past with light-repairing and reupholstering my own antique furniture so I’m going to try my hand at these three. Again, like the tables, we’re thinking of selling these once I fix them up and recoup the money we spent on the chandelier. We’ll see though…I’m going to do them and hopefully I won’t fall in love with the finished product too much to sell it. 

Any good yardsale finds for you lately? Any discards that you’ve rescue from the curb of death? Let me know! Let us see!

Music : interrupted / Piano : repurposed ~ { Part II }

It’s been a while since I’ve posted but that’s not stopped my regular influx of people who come to this site to find one of two things: information about vintage ice boxes and/or 1930’s european haircuts. If you want to make a website with guaranteed traffic, make one about those things.

So I’m returning to post a little bit of the progress for my piano repurposing that I wrote about here a few months ago. I’ve got a hard deadline of July 30th to finish this up and get it home-ready so I’m burning the 9:30 oil to get it done. I’m too old and what with work in the morning, to burn the midnight oil. I’m still aiming to make it an armoire for our flat-screen Netflix machine (our television) and though the hardest parts are finished, I’m left with the parts that required a little bit of know-how and that’s a lot of what I don’t have when it comes to construction.

Out of body experience.

As you might be able to figure out from the photo above (and the photos in part I ), I was able to get the harp of the piano out and sort of reconstruct the shell of the piano. You can see it there at the bottom of that picture. THE hardest part of all of this has been trying to remove the harp from the wood it’s connected to. The 88 tuning pegs that held those high tension strings are no surprisingly anchored into the wood. It’s like they didn’t want them to move. Ever. I’ve tried removing them one by one as if they were a bolt but aside from not having the right tools, those things do not want to budge. Plan B. 

Macabre! Macabre! Macabre!

Even that has been too insanely heavy to move by myself. Since I’ve been doing this all by myself I’ve not had any help thus far, it’s just been laying on the floor where it landed for a few months until I’ve been able to get to it. To get some of the wood off of it and make it light enough to at least scoot I’ve had to literally beat it with a sledgehammer and a dull axe that’s about as old as the piano. I am beating only the wood (if I can help it) and am trying to salvage the harp so I can repurpose that too once I’m finished with this project. 

Behind the Strings: Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain

With the help of a friend I’ve actually made the piano about 3 or 4 inches shallower (though it had gotten too dark at the time for me to take pictures of it’s post-op state). Our home & living room is small enough to be measured in square inches rather than square feet so space is definitely an issue. As a remedy, Jen & Pat, two the lovely ladies at Aubergine Emporium suggested that we cut the piano to save a few inches. It was a brilliant idea as the television was a flat screen, we didn’t need all of that room inside the piano. As an added bonus, it’s just that much lighter too – and it needed the diet. Even though all the really heavy parts are out of the piano, it’s still a beast to move.

So that is where we are at the moment. The shell of an upright piano with a slimmer figure and it’s organs have almost all been harvested. The next step is to build a shelf sturdy enough for the television and strengthen the whole structure a bit from the back. Without all the inside supports, it kind of does a hula-dance if you push against it. Not something I’d like to set an expensive piece (yet ugly) of technology on quite yet. Part III and hopefully a finished product coming very soon.

Oh yeah, and wheels. A nice set of new casters are in order.

absentee!

Hello friends of Hair Tonic & Horse Feathers…

There’s been a lag in posts as of late and here’s why: I’ve been helping Mrs. Hair Tonic & Horse Feathers get her dissertation ready and have been helping her prep for her oral defense. And it’s all paid off because Mrs. Hair Tonic & Horse Feathers is now Dr. Hair Tonic & Horse Feathers. A million hugs and congratulations to my wife: my truest treasure in this world. She’s inspiring in every way and I hope she can share her story to you all soon. It’s an awe-inspiring one.

a brief aside about piano strings…

A Public Service Announcement dedicated to the many many people who keep finding my site by searching “can you remove a piano harp without removing the strings” :

My answer: Don’t try to remove a piano harp without removing the strings unless you’ve got a penchant for tetanus and good health insurance.

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