Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A faded beauty of unparalled craftsmanship

She was the epitome of grand elegance and superb hand craftsmanship.
 Found at a garage sale underneath piles of items for sale.
A sign said very old sofa for sale.

From 1870's the woman said she was told.  I've owned her for over 20 years always with the intent of having her redone but, it was one thing or another not to mention the cost. 

She is really beautiful if  you can picture her someplace else and redone.  True quality for the finest of homes.

I'll take it. 
(All the while thinking my DB is not going to be happy about this.)

I did toy with the idea of having her redone with non-tufted sides in a navy and white stripe fabric, you know for the nautical flair and estimated it would be about $2,300-$2,500 if I was lucky.  Ouch! The problem was where to keep it in the meantime.

What I really wanted was the wood. Beautifully hand carved wood that had been painted white over the fine gold leafing.  

As we began to remove the once plum colored silk velvet it became apparent this was constructed like a work of art.  I began to feel guilty as the horsehair and enough cotton stuffing to fill two huge trash cans and then some; kept come on coming.  Then the burlap, and more burlap. 

It seemed never ending.

Eight way hand tied springs attached to a metal frame that just wouldn't budge with a crowbar.  Webbing upon webbing gave way to more amazement.  How many hours a day for weeks did it take from carving the frame, arched bracing and putting it all together or who made it we will never know.  All we found was one small marking made in Italy. 

It was as if she had come to life.
Resisting us at every turn to stop.

We had to get rid of all the fabric.  We didn't have a choice.
When we were picking it up it's former owner noticed the underside had become a home for mice.  Thankfully she cut the webbing and we all helped remove the nests that had been made in it before loading into the truck.  Good thing DB and I had on sturdy gloves just in case!

 In the end all that remained were the springs and these.

A few days later I walked outside and looked at some of them.
I thought they would make interesting photos.

As I piled them up.  It was as if she spoke.

I'm still grand. I'm still beautiful...

and she absolutely is.


La Dolfina said...

I loved this tale of a faded beauty!
You find the best things Rita... or is it that they find you :)

Shorely Chic said...

awe, I love this and I love the tale you told - she is still grand and beautiful, you saved her best parts and for that - cheers to you!!

Leo said...

I love these photos. What amazing workmanship. The details in the carving of the trim and the construction of the interior. Wow - are you going to re-cover it or what are your plans?

Linda @ Itsy Bits And Pieces said...

Wow, Rita...she is grand...wonderful lines!

Burlap Luxe said...

Rita, don't subject me to so much French flea market style beauty.

your so good at what you do girl.

Anonymous said...

double wow!

jmac said...

SO VERY COOL!! and you're right, the carved wood is amazing. Would make beautiful large prints to frame....light them right, good composition...make some beautiful artwork!
I put some pics up of your lovely silverware on my blob today...can't wait to use them!!! So lovely..

Privet and Holly said...

Ooooh, goose bump
city here, my girl!
This is one amazing
piece and I love how
you told "her" story!
Can't wait to see what
awaits her, next....
Happy day,
xx Suzanne

HRH Sarah said...

Ugh, such a tease- what comes next?!?!?!?

Julie@beingRUBY said...

Oh Rita
She is a beauty.. a grande old dame!!! and she looks all the more lovely for removing those faded garments...

Look forward to seeing how she evolves.... Have a lovely week my friend.. xxx Julie

Jane said...

I am intrigued with what you will do with her...

Constant Chatter...pointed the way to you this evening (It's actually 4:30AM...I lost track of time...been painting ). I love your silverware...not only is it lovely, it will make wonderful gifts. I'll be seeing you in your etsy store soon.
Jane (artfully graced)

Heaven's Walk said...

What a beautiful find, Rita! I can see why you just had to take her home with you. I can hardly wait to see how you breath new life into her Italian spirit.... :)

xoxo laurie@heavens-walk

Maya @ Completely Coastal said...

That lady in navy would be awesome!

Blooming Rose Musings said...

She is still absolutely ravishing! I love how you told her story. What will be coming next in the tale? It is amazing what history she has been holding in confidence. I look forward to her next chapter.

Seawashed said...

What beauty. Such a treasure.

Burlap Luxe said...

Return Visit,
Rita, I just love you dear one! You know I never paint thinking my work is that special, I just paint. You girl just know how to make someone feel great about what they do. It was you girl wanting and buying the nest sign to then buy the Sanctuary sign for your Sanctuary place. You are a loyal friend who wants nothing in return. You showed love to a stranger who became a blogger who found you a beautiful blogger who then in turn fell in love with your passion and your giving heart!

You my dear are truly one of the reasons I blog:)

I always feel welcome over here at your place. You my dear have a spare room here if you ever take a trip to Southern CA.

Courtney ~ French Country Cottage said...

Love it and your story about it. Great post! I have bought pieces like this before- I re-did one sofa (myself because the costs are so high) and did a post about it on my blog. But it isn't near as detailed as this one. Just beautiful. Just found your blog~ really charming! :)

Kathysue said...

Rita, I love this story. I did a makeover on my antique rocker not as grand and beautiful as your lovely settee but it had the same insides, horsehair, burlap, webbing, batting,eight-way and it took us days to dis-assemble her and I tried my hand at re-doing her. Not a pretty picture but the end result is pretty. I have learned to leave it to those who know what they are doing. I had no idea what I was doing. She is a classically elegant piece, that is for sure,Kathysue

maría cecilia said...

Such a great old piece!!!... and lots of work ahead...
maria cecilia

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