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Re-storying.

I, like most homesteaders, have many irons in the fire when it comes to income. I do furniture restoration, among other things, and when I am not doing all the other things, I write about them.

I have been pondering about my furniture restoration and painted patina work; I am often asked what it is, and why I do it. I have learned a lot from these reveries, and wanted to share them with you.

I realized that our treasured possessions--curious, that word, actually: it tells us immediately, that these "things," our homes, furniture, objects, hold us dear, as much as we hold them. We carry the histories of our families, our homes and homesteads, and the stories of our lives.

Our memories of Grandma live on for us, through her cupboard, which has now become ours: opening a door, touching the handle, cool or warm to our hand, allows us contact, a sense of continuity that enriches our lives with meaning, floods our senses with memory, beckons to us from across the years, and tells us ... our shared story.

This is one of the reasons, I enjoy restoration so much. For me, it is, literally, re-storying.

Restoration of these pieces allows me to bring forward what each piece is carrying, and so often they carry the history of our lives, and much that is often forgotten.

This work of restoration is never just about furniture. It's bringing back to heart and mind the gleam in your grandma's eye, the sweet smell you remember in her house, the times spent, making a pie, or biscuits, perhaps in a cloud of flour, deftly, gently, working the dough with her well-worn oak rolling pin. The real cupboard is what's in the mind's eye, and in our hearts.

A well-loved piece of furniture is the medium of those thoughts that it carries, and they bear these fond memories. Sometimes a piece merely needs to be cleaned up, refreshed, so to speak, so it may take its rightful place in your house of memories.

These are the pieces that interest me--that I want to work on. The pieces that gave someone joy, are a joy to restore.

Often the piece itself is not necessarily "special," as far as its actual construction, it's the memories that make it special. It is these pieces that are truly worth restoration.

At auctions, I often see exceptional antique pieces that never came alive, never were really cared about, and often, they may not attract quite the level of attention you might expect, despite their obvious monetary value.

When I see a piece that mattered to someone, it has an aura--it is precious--you'll see that--some pieces will attract everyone's attention. All they know is that they desire it, but what is really happening, is that piece was beloved, and all the memories it carries pulls people towards it, with the forcefield of love. It's a kind of gravity, the gravity of angels, perhaps.

Recently at auction, I noticed a little, round, French sewing table. Immediately I knew it evoked so many memories--all the hands that opened and closed the drawers, reaching for pins, thinking over the sewing, all the envisioned projects, sewn, and some, never, the creativity emanating from it, an authority of emotion, the connections, kept intact across time.

A client asked me recently, "Do you have other people do your' grunt work'?"

I replied that there is no such thing as "grunt work" for me--every part of working on a piece of furniture, any part of a wall, or gate, a door, that has meaning and stories for someone, the layering of applied light, carefully, attentively rubbed skins of color, that allows these memories to shine, is important. It is all important.

BY MICHAEL McKENNA

MEXICO

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Title Annotation:Country neighbors; furniture restoration
Author:McKenna, Michael
Publication:Countryside & Small Stock Journal
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 1, 2013
Words:632
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