The happy new life of my old theatre seats...

Hello dear readers!

Would you like a peek at Ian's and my holiday project?  Here's the final product!

They add soft and comfy and compact extra seating in our little living room... and give you the festive urge to make buttery popcorn and eat it in paper bags.


My good friend Les Sunde, who makes beautiful story-filled creations from rusty old things (you can read an article I wrote about him here-- and note that it takes a few seconds to load), gave me three red art deco theatre seats a couple years ago.

They came from the local old Bas Bleu theatre on Pine street here in Fort Collins, before the theatre moved.  (We think that they're from the 1940's-- their original home was a theatre in small town eastern Colorado.)  I had big dreams for these seats, but they sat in my garage collecting dust for three years....

... and then, a cute little reupholstery shop called Sparrow House of Designs opened up just blocks from my house.  So I consulted with the lovely owner, Gayle, and we made a plan to give these seats another life.


The fabric (velvet and vinyl and some kind of scratchy old material on the sides) was in bad shape, stained and a little torn and threadbare in places.


 We pried the cushions from the metal base with a screwdriver and got rid of the stuffing....

They were full of dust and stuffed with hay and burlap and ancient cotton padding. (Sadly, I'm extremely allergic to dust and hay, so these were an allergy nightmare. I wore a dust mask while removing that stuff.)


 I re-stuffed and reupholstered the seat and back cushions, with Gayle's help. (That's the cotton padding on the right, below.)


It was so fascinating to see the way these seats were originally assembled... there's this narrow, slinky-like spring that's holding the seat back fabric into place.



The metal back of the seats are kind of rusted from decades of spilled Cokes, I'm guessing.  I like the way the old metal looks, though, so we're keeping it intact.


I found some gorgeous, silky-smooth velvet fabric remnants super-on-sale at  Gayle did a beautiful job sewing the velvet for the seat, which I couldn't do with my limited sewing skills and non-upholstery-grade sewing machine.  Then she provided the foam and Dacron wrap for me and guided me through reassembling the seats.  (I think the foam was about 4 inches thick-- I glued a layer of Dacron to it with spray fabric adhesive.)


Ian helped me, too, since he's well-muscled and mechanically-minded.  There was an issue with one of the seat's springs, but he fixed it. (He always tells me from the get-go that he's not going to get involved with my latest creative dream-project, but then he gets sucked in for one reason or another and saves the day.)

I glued two layers of Dacron to the metal back (and glued them together, too.)  Then Ian and I wrapped the new velvet around the metal and cushion, which was a bit challenging because we had to wedge it in with that tiny, long slinky. We accomplished this with a hammer, mallet, clamps, and Ian's brute force. 

He built a sturdy hickory frame for the base, made from leftover, pre-finished wood flooring from our remodel.  Once again, I feel I owe thanks to the young boy Ian of the 1980s who obsessively played with Legos, thereby mastering the basics of construction... and it has served our whole family well!

Et voila! The end result...

One charming thing about these seats is that there's an ancient chewed-up piece of gum stuck under one of the arms.  We're keeping it there for posterity's sake. It's probably decades old-- any germs are long gone, replaced by the charming patina of the years. (Right?)  So if you come over to try out the chairs, be warned!  And, as we instructed Lil Dude, don't you dare remove that piece of gum...

We're trying to keep Wilma and her potential doggy-grime off the seats... we don't want to have to reupholster them again for at least a few years. :-)

That's it!  I wish you happiness in your own creative projects....


Elves around my house...


Happy Holidays... 


... from me and the many elves in my house!

These little guys are just a couple inches tall.

I found them in a flea market and brought them home and let them hang out on my old Viewmaster stuff...

Lil Dude set them up... 
he said that this one below is doing yoga-- downward facing dog.

And he set this reindeer up to read Harold and the Purple Crayon. 

Alice in Wonderland will be next on the reading list...

Fill your 2015 with joys, 
both TINY and GRAND!


(See those moon-blue theater seats through our shelves of curiosity?  
Ian and I just re-did them... come back for details in my next post!)

Heaps of love and happy wishes,


My Sweet Lil Fifties Rig, Reborn!

Hello dearest readers!

 Thank you to everyone who inquires about the health and happiness of my little vintage trailer studio.  A couple years ago she got water damage, poor thing... it was my fault-- I neglected her during a stressful house renovation we were doing.  And then, with new space in our house, I moved my writing studio inside, where it's cooler in summer and warmer in winter, and the desk set-up is more ergonomic for my high-maintenance neck and shoulders. (All the stuff that used to be in the trailer is now inside the studio in my house.)


But it pained me to see my sweet little rig sitting out in the driveway abandoned.  So, last year, as a goal for 2014, I wrote that I wanted to get her back in use.  It was quite a process-- everything in the trailer required specialized attention! Last October, I'd serendipitously found April, a vintage trailer specialist, who I wrote about in another post, but she was in high demand, so I had to be patient. 

I found some cool folks at Ace Hardware who were willing to do the unusual re-screening for the door and some windows.  Some more cool folks at Black's Glass custom-made a replacement window for one that was missing.  Some more cool folks at RV Land sealed up all the leaky seams in the aluminum shell and got the brake light wiring in order.  After April repaired the interior wood damage, I repainted the interior (at least the parts that had already been painted-- I left the beautiful birch intact.)

And then my man, Ian, put in new flooring.  He is truly a handy man (he paid his way through college with construction work, tile and linoleum installation work, and "rubber dam bladder" work, but that's another story... oh, and he played with Legos fairly obsessively as a kid, which was a solid foundation for his future handyman endeavors.  We have some of his correspondence with the Lego company, dated 1982, on his office wall, actually.) But I digress! 

So, Ian installed this marmoleum flooring (which is very similar to original, old-fashioned linoleum-- super-soft on your feet, all-natural, made with real linseed oil and natural fibers.) We had scraps left over from our house's kitchen and bathroom flooring-- "relaxing lagoon" is the color's name.  We pieced it together and barely had enough to cover the tiny floor plan, but it worked!  This stuff is notoriously hard to work with, even on straightforward jobs in large spaces in houses.... and Ian was working with this teeny, odd floor plan inside my trailer.  But it turned out incredible!  I love it so much (and Ian so much).

So let's see, then I put some wallpaper swatches on the fridge and pipe (from Spoonflower, which has quirky, artsy, indie designs in wallpaper and fabric).  I sewed some bunting and pillows, and gathered up some old quilts from my grandmother.  I cut curtains from vintage tea towels and tablecloths that I'd collected from flea markets over the years.  I found a couple 1950s and 60s sconce lights on Etsy that we hung on the walls. Ian did some wiring to make them work (and still has a little more wiring to do.) 

 There were already narrow black racking stripe decals on the exterior, but they were peeling off.  We put on a new turquoise stripe on one side, and plan to put one on the other side, too.  I'm going to string those old pink lights on the outside for the holidays and make it look festive. 


This side still needs some razzamatazz!


 I also have some more decorating things I want to do here and there... which will be an ongoing project.


 The trailer's new life is our family's tech-free creative space.  Lil Dude and I read books together on the bed at night, and it is SO INSANELY COZY!  Sometimes we eat family dinners at the trailer table and then for dessert, have marshmallows roasted over the little fire pit in our back yard.  And I'm starting to invite friends over for tea and book-conversing.  (Writer friend Todd Mitchell just came over to my trailer the other day, and we talked about his amazing new work-in-progress.)

We're also going to use it for art projects... we're now on a junk-robot kick, and have just spray-painted 25 Altoid tins (from our stash of, like, 100, in the basement.)  Soon they will be re-birthed as robots (inspired by good wabi-sabi friend Les Sunde, who I wrote about here)... I'll do a post on our robots soon.

And I'm getting ready to go over copy-edits for The Impossible Caravan in here... which is fitting, since English-speakers outside the US usually refer to camper-trailers as "caravans." :-)

Would you like to see some icky before pictures?  Brace yourself!

 If you haven't yet seen pics of the before-before pics, meaning how it looked when it was my full-time writing studio, before the water damage, there's a tour here.  I wrote several of my books in this set-up:  Star in the Forest, The Indigo Notebook, and The Ruby Notebook.  Here's what it used to look like:

I hope you enjoyed seeing these trailer transformations!  In a future post, I'll show you nighttime pics of our bedtime story reading so you can experience the INSANE COZINESS for yourself!  Also, I'm deciding on my sweet lil rig's official name... so once I decide and put the decal on the side, I'll share it with you.