Romeo and Juliet‘s man-about-town Mercutio boasts, “ . . . I am the very pink of courtesy!” Clear statement he doesn’t go around making faux pas; he is perfect in matters of manners. In some dictionaries, pink and perfection are synonyms but, as my mother set up housekeeping in the home she would live in the longest, she must have concluded one word described the other. She continued her admiration of the color throughout her life.
I was quite decided against using it three years ago when I hauled a bookcase from my parents’ home (still in the family at the time). Mother had painted it a delicate lavender rose, leftover paint from the new bathroom added in ’59. At first blush, it didn’t go with the beiges, browns and orange I had gathered for my decor.
A consignment dealer (Now&Then) went crazy over the 1″ dimensional boards the bookcase was built from and he loved the finish–old timey oil-based enamel laced with heavy metals–nothing like the feel of those now-illegal formulas. The dealer even liked the color. He accessorized it with black–a stunning retro display.
But the bookcase didn’t sell. I was strangely relieved and decided to use it in my apartment. Now, with all the value built into the paint, I couldn’t cover it over. Besides, I reasoned, living with my mother’s pink bookcase could help me make further peace with her. (You see, in Mom’s world, if pink was perfect for her, it was perfect for everybody. Maybe it wasn’t just the color she liked; perhaps she sensed Shakespeare’s meaning of the word!)
And I could further redeem my older brother who–not too many years after we moved into our home addition–had the audacity to desecrate one of Mother’s perfect walls. He was a teenager. He thought it would be funny–and perhaps subconsciously he had a yen to personalize the space he used every day, the bathroom by his bedroom. During a few hours alone while the rest of us were at a wedding out of town, Mark covered as much of the bathroom as he could–which turned out to be harder than he thought–with bright red.Our return after midnight was greeted with a tell-tale smell. Drawn by our other brother’s soon-to-be-quelled laughter, Mother was alerted–and alarmed. Mark heard all this, pretended to be asleep. The next morning, Mother claimed she hadn’t slept a wink.
It was a fall from innocence–for both of them. Mark’s self-styled rite of passage had not been celebrated. Instead, Mother wondered what demon had possessed her son. After all, she had already done the room up right!(Maybe I should paint the bookcase bright red.)Within a day or two, Mother repainted the wall but she couldn’t use the leftover paint–she had painted a bookcase with it, the same bookcase I decided to organize my back room with. And it blended quite well with the Frederick Lord Leighton print next to it–a woman with a faraway gaze in a gauzy shift–her skin blushing through, the background rosy gray, the frame champagne (thanks, I put it together a few years ago).
But last night, I realized the chest I had planned to sit next to my computer just wasn’t going to work. It stuck out too far from the wall, too much blonde furniture together, too large for the room. After the work of acquiring it, I was determined to find a place. I traded it with the pink bookcase.
Front room now. The pink needs more weight. Make it say library somehow. I considered using dark fabric at the back. Then I remembered the paisley paper I found at the DI last year. Pink undertone but dark. It reminds me of the beautiful endpapers that were used in hand binding. Put a sample sheet in there. Perfect–or I could also say–Pink!
One complication. The sheets were manufactured to be drawer liners and an unfortunate scent was added: old-fashioned rose toilet water with a dank, musty smell already built in. I sat by the open package long enough to know it had to go.
Unwanted odors are part of pulling things from dumpsters, digging in damp basements, bringing home thrift store clothes–that ever-present fumigation chemical which is what I have good news about. In the past I’ve found the smell doesn’t usually leave with one washing. I’ve tried sunning the fabric first, washing with vinegar, ammonia. Each left a residue that had to fade over time. But at last I have a trick that works!
Old-fashioned steam heat radiators in my apartment. If I drape an item over the radiator for a couple of hours, the smell is gone! So I asked myself, why does this work better than putting something in the sun? Without researching the physics of it, I came up with an opinion: Heat rises. If you put something in the sun, the upper surface will be hotter than what’s below. Doesn’t sound like optimal use of the action of heat waves. Placing tainted cloth–or, in this case, paper–where heat can rise through it seems to help the chemical dissipate faster.
I used a single-edged razor blade and a metal ruler to cut the lining paper. First I put the sheet in place and, using my fingernail, creased where to make the cut (if you’re using a lining material that won’t let you do that–or you have an difficult corner to fit–make a pattern with newspaper). Now make the cut. Many metal rulers have cork on the under side. If yours does, place the ruler upside down along your crease; you’ll get a straighter cut. I planned somewhat for pattern match but I knew that the books would cover a lot of the lining. Still, it’s easy to get obsessive but I wanted to do this quickly so I kept telling myself it would be GOOD ENOUGH. If you want it perfect, you could remove the bookcase backing and paper continuously behind the shelves. Or you could cut a pattern for each piece. Or you could do it like wallpaper–cut the piece larger than needed, paste, smooth and trim in place.
For attaching this paper, I just used one of my new favorite tools for gluing. Ran a small bead of FabriTac on the perimeter of the paper’s back. This stuff grabs quickly and can be repositioned without reapplying. It doesn’t wrinkle paper like a water-based glue would. It’s the pink of stickum!
An unabridged dictionary on a podium is a tradition my daughter continues in her home (with a beautiful book she inherited from her husband’s family). On the shelf below, a 100th anniversary edition of Huck Finn illustrated with woodcuts by Barry Moser. The small ceramic lamp has been in my family since my parents were married in 1941. I replaced the wiring a couple of days ago, happened to have the minimal-depth lampshade on hand. Wait! Just remembered I have a nice scholastic edition of Romeo and Juliet to put here–my nod to the Founder of the phrase that began this post.
Find what’s yours . . . truly! danscir52
copyright 2013 Dan Christensen all rights reserved