Popsicle Sheers

Jean Louis wept
Jean Louis wept

Grand couturiers moan that the art of draping is dying. My efforts last week probably flat lined it.

Daryl warned me the worst enemy here is the sandy dust created by daily windstorms. It cloys to everything and especially likes fabric. It’s why the desert style is to shy away from carpet and drapes. I said pshaw and forged ahead with my plans to use drapes for color and drama.

I’ve always been a fabric whore and get excited when I find a vibrant hue or unusual texture. One of my favorite places is a discount textile outlet on the southwest side of Chicago. It’s in a neighborhood of unknown Eastern European ethnicity around 21st and Damien. It occupies three floors of an old factory. You expect to see a rat at any moment.

There must be a theater connection, there are so many dramatic choices. Bolts are piled floor to ceiling and a lot of them are not priced.

Like a wonderful red fish net I found a year ago (more to follow on this in a future post.) I drug the 40 yards down to the first floor to ask the price. The owner said $1.95 a yard. Then he put his index finger to his cheekbone and started hemming and mulling. Finally he said, “I’m losing money on this but I’ll let you have it for $1.75.” Wow, an $8 savings.

I’ve never enjoyed haggling and get nothing out of it. Bowing to local custom I once went at it with a vendor over a papier-mache ornament in India. I finally got him down a couple hundred rupees and as I walked away I thought, “I wasted 20 minutes  of my life for $2?” Another tactic in the terrorists’ war to steal our freedom.

It was the electric saffron polyester sheers from Chicago I worked with last week. They’re a unique color found only in nature: on the Good Humor Man’s truck. I strung them on the rod thinking they would immediately take the geometric shape I envisioned. Instead they flounced and flowed like something in Grandma’s front parlor. Or a bad Eva Gabor peignoir set.

After two days of trial and error I got them to an acceptable state. I’ll just have to live with them for a while. Or until they become so filthy I have to throw them out.

Both sides now. The petrified wood/turd lamps next to the invisibly draped tables.
Both sides now. The petrified wood/turd lamps next to the invisibly draped tables.

Going through the storage items and dealing with the dust they’ve collected over six months has been nasty. There were some unexpected surprises though in the things I packed away two years ago. Things I’d forgotten about but can now use.

Like the small faux draped lucite illusion tables, no dust magnet there. Or the petrified wood lamps I picked up for a song at a North Manchester, Indiana garage sale. The glue-gunned sea shells indicate they were someone’s craft project. If the lamps are turned backwards  they resemble giant turds.

I also found the black velvet drapes from my bedroom in Fort Wayne. When we had them made I told my Mother’s decorator I was looking for something dark and unusual. He said he’d recently come across a wonderful art deco cut velvet swirl.

The drums had been buried by the French resistance before World War II so they wouldn’t be melted into ammunition by the Germans. They were recently uncovered and this was the first production of the pattern in over 70 years.

Unable to resist a good Nazi story, I felt like a member of the Academy voting for the Oscars. I declared the swirl the winner sight unseen.

The black drapes are a nice backdrop for the sleeping quadrant in the apartment. They will create a different feel from the living area. Plus they will muffle the sounds of any overnight guests I might have. When they snore.

Unexpected gain: the gap created by the drapes around the mattress allows for storage of framed art waiting for the antique mall. And my step ladder.
Unexpected gain: the gap created by the drapes around the mattress allows for storage of framed art waiting for the antique mall. And my step ladder.

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The Last Temptation of Me

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