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Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Beacon Bits -- Transformation

Time has gone quickly. Time has slowed down. Time has come to a screeching halt. Time repeats itself. We have had all of these impressions of time as we have continued to live through this coronavirus pandemic and while witnessing the immediate and dramatic response to the obvious and persistent racial inequity in our society.

To say that these have been times to ponder life is an understatement. I thought I would continue writing and musing on this blog throughout the 'pause' imposed by our prescient governor in NYS, but I was caught up in other projects and tasks that I would prioritize daily in order to structure my time in this life transition and sense of being betwixt and between.

One such project was collecting a chair from a basement in Brooklyn to have it reupholstered and restored so that I could incorporate it into my home. I am not sure how old it is, but I think it may be at least early 19th century and possibly from the Philadelphia area where there were connections through a family member's partner. Reclaiming the chair was not as easy as I thought because of its size and awkwardness. But the serendipity was having a place of business in Beacon that remained open and could accept the work order in mid-June, so my motivation became stronger to retrieve it and haul it home.

My first visit to Denise Gianna Designs LLC at 480 Main Street while taking a stroll on Main Street in the autumn of 2019. After entering the shop filled with groupings of furniture, decorative art, and unique collectibles, I took notice that they offered upholstery services with New Life Upholestery by Amy and took some business cards after having a brief discussion to verify that this was something I could follow up on since I had this chair on my mind since the spring of 2018. I had familiarity with reupholstering some of my older furniture when living in Rockland County at S Tillim's Fabric Store and recalled the time my mother had slipcovers made for her Chippendale style living room furniture when I was growing up; I still regret not taking her wingback chair in the 1970s when offered to me. 

After finding the business cards and making contact with Amy to drop off the chair, I was pleased that I had previously ordered some Sam Moore fabric to match a piece of furniture I already had in my living space since it would not have been possible to do so in the late spring with the store closings. Luckily, my guess of how much fabric was needed was just enough to complete the chair.

Sam Moore Fabric
The workmanship of the finished chair was impeccable. Amy's work is filled with loving care and her cordiality and respect for timeless pieces was underscored by her saving the original needlework covering from the chair for me with the hope that I would appreciate the handiwork. I always appreciate tapestry needlepoint and can frequently find myself in awe of the patience and commitment that women had to complete the works of art that can withstand the test of time, another reminder that there were makers long before the maker movement. It was an unexpected and welcome gift that she thought to save it since I had not remembered to ask her to do that initially.

After some discussion about the possibility of using the preserved pieces of the needlepoint tapestry for some accent pillows, and taking the two large pieces for a thorough dry cleaning, Amy put her talents to work so that another part of the past was reclaimed and made into new life. The pillows are uniquely shaped because they were carefully placed around where wear and tear on the chair had created damage and ripped stitching. 
Amy Baker
I have visited the design studio and shop several times and love being in the workspace in the lower level where Amy is mentoring girls in her family to appreciate the work she has been called to do. I also like to be in the midst of the color and inspiration and find the lively discussions with Denise, the owner of the business, to be uplifting and a reminder for me to stay connected with the community during these times of caution and self-care. I have already recommended the business to some local friends who appreciate knowing they can support this quality business so close to home. I know I will return with some ideas for new projects and perhaps request Amy to make a pillow from my own needlepoint project that will be started as we hunker down in place this winter while awaiting safe vaccines.
Denise Gianna

Food for thought: Bringing the past into the present and feeling connected to the timelessness in objects is part of the beauty of restoration. It is a metaphor for personal transformation as well. Reclaiming. Restoring. Refurbishing. Remaking. It is an important part of this pause when we can deepen our connections to what was and what can be. 

1 comment:

  1. I would imagine the chair is worth MORE - now that you reupholstered and restored it. Do you let anyone sit on it...or is it now a museum piece?