Pheasant Under Glass

No job is ever done in this apartment. Which can be taken many different ways.

In the context of today’s post it means past projects with ho-hum results can always be revisited and improved upon. Like the 12 foot long window sill/shelf that allowed me to finally hang the Resistance drapes properly. The finishing touches ended up being rather bland. Enter the ghetto discount fabric store

My life as a fabric whore dates to childhood. Both my Grandmother and Mother were accomplished seamstresses and our weekly visits to the farm ended with the two of them going over their current projects. I was baffled by the  terminology: gaberdine, cutting on the bias, interfacing, pile, weighted hems–it was all so foreign. And none of it was about me. The boredom was only compounded when we visited the fabric store.

Bringing up four boys who’d be born within eight years of each other consumed all of Mother’s time. Going to buy material, buttons or patterns was the only time I remember seeing a look of self-satisfied enjoyment on her face.  Equally as rare in those days was the feeling of accomplishment you sensed when she finished a sewing project.

When we shopped, and when I wasn’t being told to get off the stool to let another woman sit, I would pull out one of the pattern books and try to help, “what about this one?”

Mother would look down dismissively, “that’s Butterick.” She only used Vogue or Simplicity patterns. Their designs were the best.

Left to stare at the surroundings because I was under orders not to touch anything, I day-dreamed about what all the fabrics were and what they would become.

Like at the Basilica of the Virgin of Guadalupe, pilgrims at the Tooth Temple are treated as a mass produced commodity as they are loaded onto a conveyor belt to fully experience the viewing of the relic.

The endless possibilities of using fabric have stayed with me to this day. And I’m amazed at some of the new products coming along. Like the fake fur faux pheasant feathers at 17th and Mission.

There are so many wrong words in the previous sentence that, taken together, add up to something that should not have been produced in the first place. Which makes it much more desirable in my book.

When one thinks of fake fur and home decor thoughts naturally gravitate towards the King and Graceland. There’s another Elvis connection to my window sill redecoration as well.

In 2005 I went to Sri Lanka with Peter & Barbara. After visiting the Temple of the Tooth in Kandy, we traveled downhill and stopped at a road side tourist store. There were slim pickings until I spotted a velvet painting of Buddha. I was struck by how two vastly different icons of modern culture, Siddhartha and the Hunka Hunka Burnin’ Love, were both given the same tacky treatment. The camp value was too pronounced to ignore.

The goof was over when Buddha was framed. Glass pressed against the fabric completely transformed the work adding depth to the color and a richness that had not previously been there. There was not a hint of the medium the painting was on. It was stunning.

The result was not quite as dramatic when I used left-over tempered glass shelves on the faux feathers. Still the fabric represents another triumph of man’s artificiality over nature.

My only regret is the number of fakes that were killed just to upholster my window sill. PETA will be on my ass for sure.

With Peter & Barbara floating from Sri Lanka to the Maldives.

Matisse on Crack

What hath God wrought?

When you enter our apartment the first impression is intended to be one of an uncluttered, simple and symmetrical space. A few items spark curiosity but there’s nothing too challenging. The place may be filthy but the sight lines are clean.

Once comfortably inside with a false sense of familiarity established, you turn to the west for some OMG reveals. Like the questionable house pet art over the sink, the Bambi uber alles above the bed, or the garish faux croc on the doors. To that we now add the Mirrored Wailing Wall.

Clean sight line to the filthy kitchen,

The installation is on the small wall in the living room perpendicular to my bedroom door (where most of the wailing is done). Small in width, 52 inches, but not in height, 11 feet. As I worked, I wondered what the kids at the Social Work for the Elderly Training Academy might think. A 68 year-old precariously balanced atop a 10 foot ladder handling 50 square feet of broken glass. It might set off warning bells as they pursue their number one objective: Senior Safety.

Finally! A place for the vintage, leather bound Kipling to float.

The mosaic’s allegorical title reflects a subject I’ve loved all of my life and have studied in-depth: The Journey of Sperm. When the first pieces were applied, their random, primitive shapes reminded me of Matisse’s cut outs. As the wall filled in and reflected light started to take over, it became more like the silver backroom at The Factory. The mash-up of those two influences conjured up images of Henri taking a couple of hits off of Billy Name’s glassdick.

Less than $50 was spent on materials thanks to Building REsources, a dealer in architectural salvage. Located in the formerly derelict but soon to be gentrified Hunters Point area of town, the charm of the old neighborhood still wafts through on occasion.  The nearby animal rendering facility sneaks up on you sometimes with the scent of burning carcasses. Hours can be spent in that perfumed air perusing the recyclables, exercising free association on what to do with the interesting and awkward materials that are found.

Every which way but up. Detail of tribute to Reagan’s Anti-Ballistic Missile Defense Shield Program. God I miss Dutch.

Prices vary from day-to-day depending on who is asked. The woman who works on Tuesdays has been especially kind. I know nothing about her but she strikes me as a life-long San Francisco resident with a high tolerance for the crazies who have come and gone through the years. And bemoans the blandness of the techie lemmings who are currently taking over the City.

She always has a quip for me but I think she secretly questions what this derelict is up to now. I’ll approach the register with sheets of broken mirror or arm’s full of irregularly shaped tempered glass and she will quietly say, “the stickers on the mirror are free, how about $5 plus tax for the rest.”

Home away from home.

People always ask me what me what I do all day. I never know what to answer. I keep busy, it’s just difficult to sum it up. This lack of responsiveness leaves the impression I don’t do anything.

Au contraire. If this project is any indication of my daily diary, 70% of my time is spent thinking, reading and daydreaming. 5% is spent out at the salvage yard rummaging through God knows what. The other 25% is used for actually doing the work.

It’s taken over a month but I’ve just emerged from the 25% portion of the cycle. Now get off my back.

Self portrait in bits and pieces.