Sunday, November 20, 2016


As I was shellacking leaves and gourds for Thanksgiving decorations, I reminded Gerald and Les about my first coffee table.  In my first apartment everything was from recycled materials, hand-me-downs, and items "scrounged" from unlikely sources.

The only furniture I had was the furniture from my room at home which consisted of a bed, dresser, chest of drawers, radio, record player, and a chair. I couldn't afford to buy any furniture. A friend saw a couch that was being thrown out and we were able to get it. I had two wooden crates that I used for end tables beside the couch.

I put the two wooden crates together and on top of them I put the mahogany top that had come from our first television set when I was a kid. Voila! A coffee table. On top of the mahogany, I put a piece of glass that had been left over when another piece of glass was broken from my friend's baker's rack and she decided to get rid of the whole thing. I used the baker's rack--minus the glass shelves--to hang my plants. In 1970, Gerald bought a 19-inch Zenith color television set for me for Valentine's Day and it lasted until 1990.  That RCA television was a beautiful piece of furniture. My father had purchased it from Yeoman's before the blizzard in 1950.   It was a console television with mahogany doors and brass handles concealing a 12-inch television on the left side;  on the right side was a radio and a 45 rpm record player;  below was a record player able to play both 78 and 33 1/3 records. When the television died, the record players and radio still worked and the cabinet was so beautiful Mother couldn't bear to part with it.  On top of the cabinet my father and brothers placed a "portable" Sylvania television that weighed about 200 pounds.  Even after the record players and radio quit working, she used the cabinet for storage and I cannot remember how or why she got rid of it, but the top to it was still remaining;  thus I was able to use it as the top for my first coffee table.  That top is in Gerald's workshop today.

I love leaves. In school, I had the biggest leaf collection of anybody as we would go to my grandfather's farm in the hills and I collected many different types of leaves--paw-paw, persimmon, butternut--I even found a Blackjack Oak which is very rare in Ohio. [My younger brother used my leaf collection for his own when his class was required to collect leaves; I was so glad he also received an "A"]

For my apartment, I collected leaves (from ginkgo, three different kinds of oaks, sweet gum, and maples) and shellacked them. I put leaves under the glass for my coffee table; I pressed the leaves and "decoupaged" the wooden crates with leaves. I used leaves everywhere. To this day, for one of my Thanksgiving arrangements, I shellac leaves from the trees in our yard--ginkgo, oaks, sweet gum, maples--and put them in a big cornucopia. I love the smell of shellac and the leaves and the brilliant autumn colors.

As I was brushing on the shellac, Les asked, "Why don't you just use polyurethane spray?"  I answered, dismissively, "Oh, it wouldn't be the same."

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