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.

Advertisements

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 I }

You may’ve read about my piano stool rescue a few of a months ago. I rescued that piano stool from 100+ of time that’d split the wood and corroded the metal. That turned out lovely enough but according to my 100-year-old piano, I’m a bigger enemy than time ever was. See, I have {had} a 100-year-old piano that I procured about 10 years ago. I loved that piano. It was my elan vital. I wrote many songs on that piano. That piano followed me when I got married and moved an hour away from home. When it came to live at my new house it was even prominently featured in the kitchen. Long story short, it didn’t last long here. Faced with having to do some heavy-duty construction at the house last year , I was forced to move it into another room and it was then that gravity & I ganged up on this lovely antique piano and ~ I’m sure you can anticipate where this is going~ I’m just fortunate that I was able to get most of myself out of the way as all 500+ pounds of it came crashing down with the most amazing sound I’ve ever heard and rendered the piano unplayable. There’s nothing like hearing a piano crash onto the floor.  Sotto Voce: Don’t invite me to a piano moving party as this is the second piano that I’ve had a hand in dropping. I’m 2 for 2.

Long winded explanation to say that I busted up my one and only piano and didn’t have the heart to throw it away. But what to do with a quarter ton piano in the middle of a room?

Taking out the piano's 'guts' and will reassemble the 'bones'. I removed every part that I possibly could to lighten the weight.

Taking the piano's harp (not pictured) out was by far the most difficult part but it contributed the biggest 'weight loss'. I wanted to remove the harp from the chassis but I simply could not get it to budge so I took the whole part out. The biggest casualty was the wall that I gouged when I dropped that piece. In my estimation it's got to be at the very least, 300 lbs.

I harvested some of the piano's vital organs.

More harvested vitals: I decided to use the pedals and instead made some interesting home decor out of them. We tore down our well-worn fence a short time ago so I decided to attach the pedal to a piece of the old fence, use a piano string as a hanger and, wah-lah. I'll be blogging about this project too ~~~ eventually

Putting the bones back together. I was going to get rid of the keys and have the lid permanently closed but I realized that that's where all the drama is! The contrast of those 88 black and white keys. I cleaned them up and put them back in and screwed them in as such that they're permanently fixed in the playable position.

Under the hood: Not too much! I decided that I would turn this into a armoire for our television so we can hide it when it's not being watched. I hinged the bottom portion so it can be used as a cupboard/storage area. I'll be building some shelves that will fit nicely into that large bottom space. It can be used to store/hide a DVD player, video game consoles, DVD's, etc... This is plan A. If Plan B doesn't work out then my plan is to turn it into a bookshelf. What do you think it'll work best as? I do have a plan C actually. I thought if I can't make all of this repurposing work out, I would make it a garden feature. I think it'd be so fun set it in the backyard to grow flowers all around it and in it, letting vines creep around it's legs. It could be really magical! Part of me hopes that plan A & B don't work out as I think it'd be stunning in a garden.

Here's the cabinet I've built to go underneath the keyboard. As mentioned above I put hingest on the bottom piece of wood so it acts as a door to hide everything underneath. The wood is all leftover scraps from a fence we built last year that've just been sitting there, begging to be used. If anything ignites my creativity, I will not throw it away (sorry about that Mrs. Hair Tonic & Horse Feathers). I've inherited that lovely trait/liability from my father, Mr. Hair Tonic & Horse Feathers Sr.

So that’s where I am at this very moment. So far 100% of the materials I’ve used for this project have been things I’ve already had and I’ve spent all of $0. Also, I’ve cut all the pieces with a handsaw, not a skill saw. I’ve come to REALLY appreciate every cut that’s gone into this because of it. I may’ve gained a muscle or two in the process.

Part II will be coming soon as I try to hone my not-so-handymanly skills and get a television into that old box. I do love the past but for a project like this: thank goodness for flat screens. Stay tuned!

WWII’s reenactors pushed me to the deep end.

I love old things. I love the way they look. I love their textures, their smells (sometimes), and the stories that have seeped into the cracks and patina finishes. I guess I’m talking specifically about the WWII era and older. If I was born in 1879 rather than 1979 I’d like to imagine myself at the forefront of the development of moving-pictures. Maybe I’d be cranking one of these for Buster Keaton or working as a gag-man for Harold Lloyd. for  I can’t say that I hate all modern things though because modernity is allowing me to have something called a ‘web~site’ through which I am communicating to you right now. I enjoy putting a pile of clothes in a metal box and having them come out clean. I will say though that it’s the look of modernity I can do without. If I “let myself go” so to speak , I would doubtlessly live a lifestyle pretty close to this woman’s lifestyle or perhaps Edna’s lifestyle. You have no idea how appealing that sounds to me. I’d still use Colgate and but can’t I have it in a simple, old-timey tube that looks more like oil paint than toothpaste?

Then I had an epiphany and with it, I’m inching more and more towards Edna’s part of town. WWII Reenactors. Yes, those boys love authenticity and I figured there’s got to be great modern reproductions of old ephemera & daily use items that soldiers would’ve had during wartime made specifically for niche market. A little bit of internet sleuthing and bing~O:

Motherload! There’s all sorts of everyday 1940’s era reproductions of toiletries and other household products out there made for WWII Reenactors that I will have to legally commandeer with currency. If you’re thinking what I’m thinking, here’s a link to a WWII Supply website.

I’m coming, Edna. I’ll hand ink you a letter or better yet, send ya a telegram to tell you that it seems that I’ll be seeing you soon on those grassy plains of off-the-deepend-ness!

 

Fishy Finds

Here’s something to know about me: I’m a very good secret keeper. I never let any cats out of anyone’s bag. But today, I’m cracking. And I’ll let you in on my secret. It’s a place called Fishy Finds in Simi Valley.

I still remember my first trip there. After a year of living in beautiful Simi Valley, California my wife and I decided to one day check out the thrift & antique stores in the area. The first one we went to was the one with the funny name: Fishy Finds. Even from the parking lot I could see inside the open door and I know instantly that this place was magical and was about to charm me.

It’s the antique shop that I always wished existed. I always describe it like what it might look like if Knott’s Berry Farm had a yard sale. This place is for those who love the thrill-of-the-hunt and who love the stories behind the things. The owner, Tania,  is about as sweet as they come and she literally knows the story behind each and every piece in the store.  If you pick up an item to ask about the price, she’ll be able to tell you where it’s from, how old it is, who’s it was, and how she obtained it. What a gem!

My wife had the brilliant idea of taking some of the innards of the piano I recently gutted (that’s a whole new blog post coming soon, God willing) and seeing if we can’t sell them at Fishy Finds. I had taken out the piano’s action a few months ago and had it set aside while I figured out what on earth to do with it.  As interesting as it was I was probably going to throw it away as I had zero room for it but lo and behold we brought the store and we’re officially antique consignors. Not only that but Tania suggested a $225 price tag on it! See below.

My wife gets the kudos for the idea for hawking this. Right after we put it in the store and it got a heft price tag attached to it, I told her “see, I’ve got good stuff! I know how to find the good stuff!” and she said, “yeah, and I know how to tell it!

Did you happen to notice what’s underneath said piano action?   Here’s a better view.

Yes indeed, that’s our ice box that I got for free by the side of the road a month or two ago.  It’s been sitting in the garage since I found it as we really don’t have room for it so we decided to part with it, as neat as it is. The price tag now on it? $175.  Imagine that! We brought in a few unused picture frames from the 60s & 70’s I’d collected over the years as well as an antique garden tool.

Total potential winnings:$530. After the 60/40 split we’d get $318. Granted there’s gonna be a bit of negotiating and we probably won’t get the full asking price for all the items but that’s no matter as I paid $0 for all the things we brought in.

So all that to say, I let you in on my best kept secret.
Now go buy our stuff!

Happy hunting and good luck finding it!

Thriftscore! vintage late 1800’s Ice Box

Vintage White Clad Ice Box

This is better than a thriftscore. This is another one of my favorite ways to procure neat antique items: picking them up from the side of the road for free.

Our neighbors just moved out. They were taking care of their elderly grandmother and sadly, I believe she passed away. What’s even more gloomy is that it looks like the lot of grandmother’s things were put in the front yard with a sign that said “FREE”. The kids in our neighborhood are particularly savage and within hours they were using this woman’s crutches like stilts, racing around in her wheelchair and were literally smashing the rest of the items with a hammer simply because the stuff said “FREE” and they felt they were free to destroy it. It’s true, we asked them and that was their response.

I love the past simply for it’s own sake and I treasure the stories behind old things so I was glad to have rescued at least one item laid out in the yard to be given away and good care will be given to at least one item that belonged to this elderly woman. A “vintage” White Clad ice box from the late 1800’s. I put quotations around vintage because it’s most certainly a reproduction. I don’t mind that. In researching it a bit, even the repros of this go for around Truth be told, I may’ve just glossed over it if it weren’t for it’s unique hardware. I love the latch and the manufacturer’s plate on the front. From what I can tell it’s real brass.

The door opens and there’s a small bit of storage inside. I thought perhaps to use it as a night stand or and end table. Uninspired reuses, I know. Do any of you have any more clever ideas on a possible use for this neat little thing?

PS – my readership has spiked alot in the last few days. Where are all you coming from?!

PPS – please notice my fantastic Queen poster in the background of the first pic.

A Piano Stool Rescue. Part I

If you recall, a few weeks ago I posted a picture of the Christmas present I bought for my wife last month. Now with a great item like this, we need two things: great seating and great lighting. Three things if you count great prices

We’ve had our eye out for all of these and we solved out seating problem by finding a late 1800’s/early 1900’s era ball & claw piano stool at one of our favorite antique stores in Simi Valley. We already figured we’d likely end up with a piano stool because we wanted to be able to push in our seating to keep it out of the way and the leg space beneath the vanity is very small. A piano stool would be one of the few things that would fit the bill. It also had to be functional. The stool would not be just for decoration but for actual everyday use.

The stool was in unfortunately bad shape when we took a closer look in it at the shop and the shop owner dropped the price down from $65 to $25.  Twenty-five was still a lot for an old stool that we weren’t sure we could fix. The cast iron piece that was holding the seat to the swiveling rod (which didn’t turn) was completely shattered and the seat itself was broken in two pieces. We decided to go for it and I had to enlist my dad’s help to fix it.

I didn’t get around to taking a before picture of the crumbled cast iron but here’s all of the problems it had and the solutions that we came up with.

Granted the stool is not all back to it’s original pieces so it’s not a pure restoration. In order to make this seat sturdy enough for daily use we had to add to it somewhat. The X-shaped cast iron piece couldn’t be welded of course so it was brazed from the inside and then a metal plate was made to go in between the wood seat and the piece. The pieces were both painted with a glossy black coat to make the cast iron and the plate look uniform.

Putting the seat back it, we discovered it was lopsided so my dad even it out using washers as shims and then put wood dough (which I plan to use a mahogany stain on) in the excess space.

These photos don’t tell the story very well but here’s the now-sturdy stool which is in dire need of a deep cleaning. There’s a hundred years worth of dust gathered in the grooves of the ball & claw feet. But right now the wood needs some serious attention:

Tho’ it’s hard to tell in the photographs, one treatment with Howard’s Feed-n-Wax made a considerable difference in the wood (see the picture on the right). Howard’s is my favorite wood cleaning product I’ve used so far in my venture into restoring/refinishing. It really keeps the wood from drying out, replenishes the moisture, and gives it a nice shine. For best results, leave it on for 20 minutes before wiping off, just as the bottle suggests.

So that’s where I am now…in mid-clean. I cleaned the ball & claw feet as best I could but it still needs a great deal of attention. I’m going to need to figure out the best way to properly clean those feet.

More pictures to come as the project continues! Not bad for a $25 piece of turn-of-the-century furniture that might’ve been thrown away otherwise!

Previous Older Entries

I Tweet.