Friday, May 21, 2010

The Dresser

I'm finally done with the dresser I refinished for some friends in Chicago.  I have done a piece for these friends before.  It was a red bookshelf, which you can see here, and read about here.
Similar to the bookshelf, this dresser was an old piece of furniture that had been in their family for a long time.  It had sentimental value, but wasn't the prettiest thing ever, so they asked me to give it a new look.  Here is is before I touched it:

The dresser is for my friends' daughter, Kahlo, who I believe is around 8 or 9 years old.  She is named after artist Frida Kahlo, and her parents requested that an image of Frida be incorporated somewhere on the dresser.  Instead of just incorporating her in some way, I decided to make Frida my focal point after falling head over heels in love with this amazing portrait of her, taken by Nickolas Muray.  So I did my best to recreate this image out of paper, then using modpodge I adhered it to the front of the drawers.  Overall I am very pleased with the effect.

The other request from my friend/client for this piece was to incorporate quotes that were women/girl positive.  We worked together to decide on three quotes.  One from Maya Angelou, one Spanish proverb, and one I have always loved by e.e. cummings.  They are not all focused on the female species, I realize, but I think they could be inspirational to a young girl nonetheless.  I cut flowers and butterflies out of scrapbook paper, and created some little girls, all of which were put into a pattern on the sides, along with some dots and frills for added texture.

For the top of the dresser I was inspired by these embroideries I found.  I didn't really feel like I could use any of Frida's actual art, since I wanted a bright and happy dresser, and her work tended to be pretty dark.  Instead I drew from her love of Mexican folk art and my own love of embroidery.  I found a flickr stream with these amazing embroideries of the Otomi people and I knew I had to use them.  I recreated one of my favorites using various solid colored papers.  It took a lot of time but I am in love with how it looks.

I'm always tempted to point out all of the imperfections I see in something I have made.  I don't know why I have that urge, but lately I am trying to fight it.  I know that most of the things that drive me crazy will not be noticed by anyone else.  I will just say a few things.  Faces are hard.  Hands are even harder.  And decoupage is a very unforgiving medium.  Once it's on there, it's on there, my friends.  It forces me to be very zen.  If I have made a mistake, I cannot fix it once it's glued on.  I have to take a few breaths, say a few ohms, and live with it.  Then there are the times when I absolutely cannot live with it and spend hours attempting a correction.  I'm not so zen at those times.  I'm usually doing a lot of cursing.  But I digress.

I am really proud of this dresser.  I think it is charming and beautiful, and I hope the family I made it for will love it too.


Christina said...

Amazing and glorious. So vibrant. I can see how many hours went into this, I hope you were not underpaid!

amy said...

Laura.....many of your fans, and friends of the family you gave the dresser to here in Chicago, have been talking about this dresser for days. From the quotes you chose, to the replication of the Otomi nailed it. This piece was perfect for the family and the lucky, wonderful girl who gets to look at it every day. It truly took my breath away to see it up close.