Friday, March 29, 2013

The restoration of the shabby 'Velveteen' Letterbox

...Once upon a time, a mother gave her daughter a hand painted, keepsake letter box.  Along the way, her little daughters drew love notes on the box with the magic marker that doesn't come off.  And, they glued fuzzy (velvety) things to the inside top.   

Maybe because it is small.  Maybe because I really like the owner. Maybe because it was such an unexpected job. Just maybe, it was because it was such a challenge and no fees were discussed. The hand painted letter box is completed, and I think I'm delighted with the results....


Trial and error at mixing the paints, and a good sanding, it came out very close.  Graffiti gone, but preserved in photos.

View of the front inside of the box

Before-missing the veneer piece.
This shows the new, primed veneer piece.

I took a piece of Luan mahogany floor underlayment and carefully separated the layers with a hair dryer and a drywall knife.
I retrofitted the piece to size with an Exacto knife.

Then wood glued and taped it to the box to hold, while drying.  Paint cans held them in place till dry.

I decided that a light peachy tone would be perfect as it would dry darker and the the glaze would age it even more, almost to the original color.

I left the little divider drawing in its original state.

The edges had sort of an ochre shade that I matched.

The dilemma was how to preserve the flowered painting, yet not show the paint lines on the repainted surface.  Magic. [Before]

I did not sand out all the scars and scrapes where the paint was "loved off", which were necessary to the history of the piece. [After]

The restored bottom with new veneer.

It's hard to see the seam line with the distressing glaze.

The letter box now.


Everything old... new again!

And they lived happily ever after.


"What is REAL? asked the Velveteen Rabbit one day... "Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?"

"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse.  "It's a thing that happens to you.  When [someone] loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY love you, then you become Real."

"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.

"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful.  "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."

"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"

"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse.  "You become.  It takes a long time.  That's why it doesn't often happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or have to be carefully kept.

"Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby.  But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real, you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand...once you are Real you can't become unreal again.  It lasts for always." [Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit]

Thanks Gloria, for trusting me with your letter box. It is curing now, but ready to retrieve soon.

As ever,
La Verne

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