This all started when the bookstore at the mall was having a going out of business sale. Everything at the mall that year was having a going out of business sale. I’d just come from the furniture store where the Biggest. Sale. Ever. was underway and the bookstore was the last stop before heading out for groceries.
I hadn’t found anything I wanted at the furniture store – a sort of perpetual state when you’re not sure what you’re looking for at any specific moment, but at the bookstore I found two dog-eared books on building Craftsmen style furniture which may have been on the shelves since the store opened in 1976.
I have a love-hate relationship with Craftsman style. It can be needlessly bulky and uncomfortable, witness the Morse Chair, which is basically a piece of lawn furniture made out of barn beams. But it can also be as graceful as a piece of oriental art with its Greene Brothers cantilevered tables and organic Wright chairs. (And I hate FLW as a person. Not that we’ve ever met, but I’ve read a few biographies and really, the man treated women like I treat a bottle of wine. But that doesn’t mean he wasn’t a brilliant designer.)
Anyway, I bought them. The make-your-own furniture books. I had a few power tools in the basement and a father-in-law who works with wood. Last winter, I’d drive up to their place to learn the craft, making a small table. The table turned out great, but my contributions were limited. My FiL really didn’t want me to touch the saws, and how much can you do without access to a saw? Men, as a rule, do not like women touching those particular tools.
|My own tools and my own lap joint.|
These pieces, the ones in the cut-rate books, were going to be my solo projects. How hard could it be? There were pictures and diagrams, something I’m not particularly good with. I’m a word girl, always have been. But I wanted to make something solid, something that would last a century. Something that my kids would fight over. Something that my kids would actually talk to me about in a conversation that didn’t end with them finding something far better to do, like watch a rerun of Gilmore Girls.