As difficult and full of hand wringing and therapy as my relationship with my father has been, he has taught me some very valuable and useful skills. I come from a long line of crafters on both my mother's side and my father's side. It was from my mother that I learned how to make things with string and sticks but it was my father who taught me how to make things with wood.
Naomi has spoken about the deep desire to make beautiful things with her hands. It's one of the things that initially made us friends. For me this desire goes beyond string. The act of creation is profound and deeply rewarding for me. I use all sorts of media -- yarn and flour & sugar being my two favorites. But it has been way too long since I made anything out of wood. I think I was pregnant with Zoë when I made these built-ins in our living room. --sorry for the lousy picture, this was just for me to see if I liked how I was arranging the stuff on the shelves for the great house staging project.
But I haven't touched my tools in a long time. I've been working on painting and decorating and plumbing. It was on our list from the real estate stager was to do something with our wardrobes. Well, we call them wardrobes but really they are large open shelves that we keep our clothes on and in. I built them when I was pregnant with Clara and never did get around to putting the drawers on the bottom shelves and the doors on. We either needed to keep them perfectly tidy and clean or I had to do something. So I decided to make some doors to go on them and hide all of our clothes and everything else that ends up on and in them. I really had been thinking about doing this for long time but was avoiding the project for many reasons, the first of which was doing the mortise and tenon join. For this quicker, and less woodwork-y project I decided to just cover the back of the face frame (for those of you not into building things with wood, this is the wooden part of the project... there's a picture down there) with fabric. Building a face frame, for me, is a fun little thing to do. And finally giving up on my cordless drill I gifted myself a lovely one that plugs in -- it's ready for me whenever I want! ha HA! Take that dead batteries! ahem. right. Where was I?
Oh yes, on my trip to IKEA I found these great window shades that were the perfect style and length for what I wanted (3 inches to spare, perfect!) I had been intending to finish these doors for a few days but on Monday night Bob got out and spent a harrowing (for me, not him) night outside apparently under our neighbor's porch. I wish that I had remembered that it is Clara, not me, that feeds him every morning so when I went out shaking his food bag he was entirely uninterested. But when we headed out at noon to go hang up our Lost Cat signs he heard her voice and came running! So in the depression of having him gone and then the elation of having him back this project got put off a couple of days.
Last night, the girls got to sleep early and Josh went to the gym so I could spend an hour guilt-free in the basement gluing the fabric on. I used wood glue. I had heard that it may discolor the fabric so I was careful to get it only on the unexposed parts of the fabric and also to wash off where I goofed. I pulled it tight and tried to keep the center of the plant-ish print on the center line of the door. I'm quite pleased with the results. I found a few spots that needed a little re-gluing this morning and I just used a permanent glue stick. Ghetto, I know, but I think it's going to work!
This morning, the girls were feeling generous and we headed into the basement so I could drill some holes (thank you drill press! my favorite tool!) for the handles, then upstairs to trim the fabric around the edges with my rotary cutter and attach the hinges. Then I hung them on the wardrobes! I'm thrilled with how they turned out. It was an easy project and fairly cheap. They are by no means perfect and since the wardrobes have lived with us for a few years and since they are HUGE, they have warped a bit. The doors, being straight(ish, let's be honest) look a little funky. But I'm hoping the overall effect is pleasing to the people who visit our home -- or at least that my clothes now won't prove distracting while they admire our master bedroom. I didn't think too much about how I would feel about them but changing out of my (wood)work clothes into my work clothes I found them quite charming!
It is funny to me that as difficult as my relationship with my Father has been, is, and will be, that I derive pure pleasure from making things with wood and using these gifts that he has given me. It is happy for me that I can compartmentalize this much (a thing I am usually not very good at) and remember only with joy the times where we have built things together. We may not be very good at doing other things together, but working with wood has always been easy and satisfying. I look at the results of projects we have worked on and projects that I have created alone (but always with his words in my head guiding my hands) and I only think about how happy I am that I can make these things-- how happy I am that there are positive memories together. There are so many memories that are not positive, so many times full of discomfort and pain, but when I see these things I only remember the good. Those memories are a rare gift indeed. The ability to shape wood with my hands is such a deep part of my identity and I have him to thank for it.