decorating on a shoestring, Iranian rugs, Jacoean weave, Jacquard fabric, Jacquard loom, Persian rugs, toile fabric, waverly fabrics
We are on the count-down for the Cruise Ship embarkation. We are trying to move in 14 days. We have given ourselves an extra couple of days leeway just in case. Today, in my trusty, aging Subaru, I took a 50 gallon hot water heater to the house. There were so many trucks in the drive way and scattered around that it looked like it was the county fair. I had a hunch they were trying to get the drywall up and kind of expected to see it but actually seeing it was stunning.
I have been working on faith that we would make it by our deadline. We have been building furniture, reupholstering junk-store furniture and carefully buying things for us to keep costs down and make the Cruise Ship livable too. We have a bed, but it is a California king that is 84 x 72 and the bedroom is 106″ by 96.” I bought a second bed. We found that an RV bed fit. We could have a queen width and a double bed length. We are not really in any danger of falling off the bed even with our feet dangling off at the end. The closet door is less than 2 feet away from the end of the bed.
Day before yesterday two rugs I had selected after a foolishly long online search arrived. The flooring in the basement is mid-lower quality vinyl plank layered over concrete. These are going to be some cold floors. Rugs are going to be important in helping maintain the temperature and making it comfortable for us to live there. The two rugs were small and modest in quality although they were wool. I was eagerly awaiting their arrival. They arrived and they were awful. The color pallets were completely off from the online catalog images the texts were also. The wool was nice and plump but pretty hairy. The colors were murky. My “Ivory, blue and pink” rug was actually oatmeal, salmon and rusty rust. The company was great and sent us pre-paid return labels and an apology and a promise to correct their website.
We are again dead in the waster on rugs. The Cruise Ship does not get expensive rugs. We just need something to keep our tootsies warmer and make the 8 x 9 rooms with 10 foot ceilings feel less like a chimney and more like a room.
We love Persian rugs. True Persian rugs are made in Iran. The other rugs from the region as a group are oriental rugs or are referred to by region. There are not many new Persian rugs being imported but there is a lively market for rugs made from the 1950s to the 1970s before U.S. – Iranian diplomatic relations broke down.
Before the fire we had several of the vintage rugs. After the fire one of the first things we acquired, along with camping gear and a couch, were rugs. I bought three rugs as a lot from a rug seller on ebay that we had done business with in the past. I made a very low offer and surprisingly they took it. I also got a nice note saying that this offer was for “today only.” I could tell yet another person had helped us along with our recovery from the fire.
Because of the frustrating several week, thousands of rugs internet review that ended in the arrival of two murky, hairy oatmeal, rugs, I thought I would turn to something else we need for the cruise ship, namely, something to sit on. I needed a desk chair and we needed a place to sit when we eat at our tiny wall mounted fold-down dining table. We got two wood folding chairs that have seats I can upholsterer. I will use one for my desk chair/dining chair and the other will be folded and tucked away in the corner by the couch to be whisked out when the dinner table is dropped.
Ah, but there is the rub. We don’t have a couch for the Cruise Ship. We do have a couch but it is about 1 foot wider then the room and would fill up 1/2 of the depth of the room. We shopped for months for a smaller couch but they were too expensive, too big or too much money for such a cheap couch. Finally I designed a day-bed sort of couch and ordered the stuff to make it. I was not looking forward to doing it. This week my spouse was trolling through junk stores and found a $50 loveseat/couch in need of help. He sent me photos on the cell phone and we now have the couch. It is vintage 1970 with cat scratch edges. It smells of a lot of violet sent that covers over the faint sent of cigarette smoke. It sits on three feet, about 2 inches off the floor. I have not sat in it yet for fear I could not get out. It has a solid wood frame and good metal springs.
I can repair and reupholster this couch. We are going to have a couch and I don’t have to build the frame. Even better, this one has some very interesting and graceful lines to it. The back is styled in what could be converted to the Empire style furniture (c 1800-1815). While my spouse was retrieving the couch I went in search of fabric having never seen the couch. I tried to focus my interest on the lower priced fabrics thinking this was a temporary couch. I kept ending up in the aisle where the beautiful Waverly cotton and linen fabrics were. These fabrics are made from antique patterns and the threads and printing quality is perfection. Some of them cost $65 a yard and a few cost more. I averted my eyes. I took myself out of the area and gave myself a good talking to. About that time my eyes fell on a sale tag. The fabrics were all 40% off. It took me a long time to settle on the fabrics I wanted. I wanted all of them. I brought home three.
The first fabric I picked up made me cry. I had a small piece of it before the fire came. I had a small piece of this Jacobean style fabric (circa early 1600s) and carried it with us as we as moved from house to house through our early career years. It was my decorating inspiration piece and my touchstone through the moves. When we moved that bit of fabric went to the paint store and carried with me to find curtains. It was the constant across our homes through those 10 years when we moved every year or two. Today I bought three yards so I would have them. I am not sure what I will do with it but having it makes me feel more at home. It helps me feel the wandering worry of the past year and a half is like those years when we moved so often. We did OK with that and we are going to do OK with this. I can hold the cloth in my hand and make that promise and know it will be true.
I bought two other pieces of fabric. I selected a Jacquard woven using a black on black pattern with a small taupe abstract flower woven in. Jacquard fabrics are characterized by complex woven-in designs. The Jacquard loom first came on line in 1801. Joseph Marie Jacquard, a silk-weaver, invented this textile loom that human and automated weaving. The Jacquard loom was the first machine to use punched card. Jacquard fabrics are still produced. The use of punched cards to set the pattern for the weaving was one of the early contributor to modern computers. The complex woven- in design works well for a couch. It is not too stiff to work with for upholstery and sturdy enough to withstand daily family use. The Jacquard weave with its slightly raised texture will help mask the stuff of life that can be found on couches. The stray cheerio, a dime, crumbs from chips, dog and cat hair, mud from the boots you forgot to take off and the occasional cup of flying coffee.
I also found a beautiful taupe-background black figured toile. Dating from 1760-1770, toile fabric prints depict romanticized, idallic country side endeavors of the elate in the mid 18th century. This fabric, also called the Fabric of Jouyy documents activities of the privileged that took place around the Palace of Versailles in the years leading to the French Revolution. It was first produced using wood blocks in France and later by copper plates in England. The fabric, which can be cotton or linen, is composed of small vignettes of the elite playing in the countryside. Milkmaids and farmers can be found but the fabric implies they were playful, dressed revealingly and their work was simple. The true work of the countryside was being done by ordinary people who would never grace the face of a toile. It is a textile memory of the over-the-top behavior of some of the elite in the pre-French Revolution days. As time has passed the idelic feeling has remained and the political aspect of the fabric’s history is often unknown. Knowing and not condoning its history, I picked it today to remind us of the need for political equality and because toile is both formal and informal. Our new home will be that; filled with the formal antiques things we love but informal in attitude.
Our new house is truly shaping up to be our home. We have dry wall today in the Cruise Ship. I took up a hot water heater this afternoon. All of the wiring is pulled to the walls waiting on the dry wall texture and painting (our job) and soon the flooring come. Then the appliances and fixtures are set in place. We are going to make it.
Our tiny little place will have our own mark on it. It is furnished with a thrift store couch wearing antique reproduction fabrics. We have two folding chairs with “fabric of Joy” seats. Our building center scrap cabinets and shelves are all transformed by new black paint and decorative cabinet trim. Our dressers are particle board 2nds from generic-mart neatly painted to match the other black cabinets. Our table that hangs on the wall waiting to be flipped down for dinner is made from some unidentifiable eco-wood. I painted that too. We have smooth board shelves made from boards carefully selected from thelower tier utility lumber. We will use toile-covered cardboard storage boxes for our clothes. We will find rugs to anchor us in our new small space.
Even though it will be small, we will be at hone and surrounded by the colors, sites and smells of home. Truly, when we make this momentous move, we will be cut from the Fabric of joy.