Tuesday, June 17, 2014

"Denim" Finish Vintage School Chairs

At the close of the school year as I prepared to transfer schools, I had the daunting task of gleaning the junk collection I had displayed in my library.
Not wanting to leave the old library empty and inundating the new, I tried in true Libra fashion to split the collection evenly, though not without a few inner-dialog debates. 
"If I take it, where will I put it?"
"You already have a set, and you don't need any more."
"But look at it - it's adorable!"
You get the picture.

Enter a pair of diminutive vintage school chairs (kindergarten-size).
Purchased a couple years ago at the Austin Citywide Garage sale for a few dollars each, I had convinced myself that I JUST HAD TO HAVE THEM! 
I hate to admit it, but in all this time the truth is they've basically been ...well ...just sitting around.  One was randomly placed atop a bookshelf; the other used as a makeshift doorstop.  
Hardly a necessity.
It would only make sense then to leave them behind, right?  
On the last pass through of the library, I decided to take them with me.

As I've begun to set up the new library I've tried to be selective and purposeful with my decor choices.  I  want to create a space that is whimsical, happy, interesting, and clean.  
Is there a place for a pair of tiny school chairs?

I'm not sure.  

I spent the day taking all my stuff to the new school - three carloads in all!  As I unloaded each box, I dutifully put its contents away.  Book displays, holiday items, and character costumes are neatly stowed.  Favorite story-time books are on my easy-to-reach book shelf.  My office is organized, clean, and unmistakably mine.  A few decorative items hung behind the circ desk.

 When I returned home the two little chairs were still sitting by the front door poised to go in the "next load."  But there wasn't going to be a "next load;" I'd finished the move.  
I'm not certain why I hadn't taken the chairs.  Perhaps I just forgot.  

Still buzzing with creativity, I picked up the two chairs and headed to the back porch.
With my hand-held sander and some additional sandpaper I started to work on the tiny chairs.
 I had no plan.
That's often the way it is when I start a project.  I just jump in and see what happens.

Well here's what happened:

Both chairs got a good, general sanding.

I then applied a deep blue paint wash to the wooden seats and back rests.  Blue is one of the new school's colors.
They looked horrible!
Not to worry, this stage usually does.

After allowing plenty of time to dry, I went over the chairs again with the sander.
This time, a bit more of the rust and old taupe paint on the metal frame came off, revealing the silver steel.  I liked it.

As the silver rivets appeared, the chairs began to take on the look of an old, worn, comfy pair of jeans.

Perhaps influenced from last week's distressed library signs made from fence pickets, I decided to add a stenciled label.  I didn't want to write a word; I done enough of those.  And not wanting to paint a predictable, elementary school-ish picture, I opted to stencil a random number on each. 

With an additional pass over with the sander and a couple of applied coats of acrylic sealer, the chairs were done. 
I call the end result "Denim" Finish.

Will the updated chairs make the cut for the new school library?
I think...

Now, I'm just not sure about their big brother...

All photographs taken by Paulette Rodriguez.

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