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.

Leave a Reply