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

The Ancient Cohachellian Art of Cacti Arranging

Lonesome Cacti
Lonesome Cacti

My three weeks of antique hell will soon be coming to an end. It hasn’t been easy living in a 450 sq foot apartment filled with 400 sq feet of collectibles. The only refuge is the king size bed.

There’s a path to the kitchen for victuals and a path to the bathroom for the other things. Two days this week I couldn’t even shower. Not only was the shower door blocked but the stall itself was full of one of a kind items.

My new antique booth becomes available on Monday and the movers will be here at 9:00 a.m. Maybe I can get my life back then.

The Mall gave me several suggestions on moving companies but they all quoted me minimum charges that were too high. Only Big T Moving said they’d come out to make an estimate.

When I answered the door there was this big, burly 6′ 6″ man with either a Caribbean or West African colonial accent. I shook his hand and said “I’m Chris.” He responded simply, “I’m Mr. T.” He won the contract on the spot.

I suspect that “The A Team” is probably still the number 1 show in Sierra Leone. Plus he was a hundred dollars cheaper than the others.

As seen from outer space
As seen from outer space

I have not completely ignored my domestic design chores through this nightmare. I did pick up some plants for the front door. And in the desert, plants means cactus. I think I will do well with them since they only need to be watered a handful of times throughout the year.

When I had the condo in Fort Wayne I tried very hard to create a lush back patio. But I’ve never had a green thumb. I’d no more get the plants in the ground than they’d start dying. I had the uncanny ability of turning annuals into weeklies.

My friend Billy was appalled by my lack of gardening skills. He threatened to revoke my Gay Man card or turn me over to the Allen County Horticultural Society for castration. He accused me of not transplanting them properly, some nonsense about air root rot.

But there’s only so much room in my brain to remember all this stuff. Not a lot of it is reserved for the nurturing of living things. I do hear, however, that the nurseries back there miss my business terribly.

Smart money says they won't see Arbor Day
Smart money says they won’t see Arbor Day

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The Last Temptation of Me

Come Together

The kitchen is kind of becoming cohesive. The Uhaul ride from last summer is coming back to bite. I’ve emptied out the storage room containing the contents from that 20 foot truck. As well as six months of desert dust. I may have beige lung.

Things are progressing. I just need to get the treasures to the store and into the homes of their new owners. Then figure out how I make this place my own.

(Click any picture to open slide show.)

Footnote

In case you’re interested, here’s what the rest of the place looks like. It might take a while…..

A place for everything
A place for everything

 

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The Last Temptation of Me

Uncle Cookie’s Antique Empire

Something for everyone. Or not.
Something for everyone. Or not.

After a week of schlepping boxes in and out of dusty storage rooms then moving furniture under the 114 degree sun,  we are finally open for business at:

Victoria’s Attic
The Atrium
69930 Highway 111
Rancho Mirage, CA.

Tell your friends, tell your enemies, tell anyone with a bank balance in the black.

Just look for Dealer 111 on the 111.

(Click any photo for slide show.)

Next: Things I Will Miss, Volume III
Previous: Things I Will Miss, Volume II
The complete saga, From the Beginning

Contact: ellistoellis@gmail.com

Ithaca!

With the Mayor of Palm Springs
With the Mayor of Palm Springs

That’s one small step for a gay man.
One giant leap for mid-century collectibles in the desert.

10-4, Good Buddy

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The Last Temptation of Me