June 2005


This was my entry (without the identifying logo) in a chair-bashing contest on one of my favorite miniatures groups, THECAMP. Despite my clues, I must admit my entry caused some consternation until I explained what it was. lol

Although not a first place winner, it was among the winners. I was able to choose my prize, a beautiful pillow from Wendy Smale, which now occupies a similar chair, covered, however, in a manly navy blue leather.

A couple of months later, I received a package in the mail with nothing in it but a wooden E, from my pal Barb Jones. I wrote her a nice Thank E note.

There is a story behind this chair's construction....

My grandmother liked chickens. They provided eggs and meat for the table and feathers for pillows, and brought in a little extra spending money when she sold the extra eggs and chickens to Mr. Louis at the store. Not only that, they were a handy garbage disposal for kitchen scraps, too.

When the old chicken coop and many of her chickens were destroyed in a bad storm, Granny was very upset, and even more so when my grandfather just never got around to building another one.

Grampa's theory of chicken-raising was that they should be allowed to run free. "That way they can forage for some green stuff," he opined, "and they'll always come home to roost on the fence."

But that was not Granny's theory. She was sick and tired of hunting for hens' nests in the brush and brambles and embarrassed at the sight of chickens roosting all up and down the fence at night.

She informed him that if he continued to let her chickens run wild all over the Oklahoma bottomlands, then if he wanted another breakfast egg or fried chicken for Sunday dinner he would have to chase them down himself.

My grandfather didn't like to build things. What he did build was often only half-finished or sloppily put together because he was always getting distracted by another project or idea. Except for his barn; he did have a good barn.

"Better than my house," my grandmother said grimly, and after her ultimatum, Grampa grumbled that by damn he would build her a chicken coop.

Since he already had a smoke house, which was halfway built into the ground, he decided to attach the chicken coop to it at an angle so that it ended at the fence, thus saving some of his valuable time and materials. He used part of an old bed spring, an old iron gate, and boards left from some other unfinished projects. When my grandmother saw it, she threw her apron up over her face, ran blindly into the house and went to bed for the rest of the day.

That chicken coop was the most admirably awful structure; so unusual that passers-by stopped and neighbors came to stare in open-mouthed disbelief.

Not long after Grampa finished the chicken coop, my mother took me to town with her one Saturday and after she finished her shopping, we went to the movies. When a Popeye cartoon came on, I jumped up and down in my seat and whispered loudly to Mama, "That town looks like Grampa's chicken coop."

Last fall, I watched a deliciously loopy old movie with Robin Williams as Popeye.

And when I saw those almost-falling-down buildings and teetering docks, I laughed out loud, remembering my childhood remark in that long-ago theater about Grampa's infamous chicken house contraption.

So, when Den Mother on THECAMP announced the chair-bashing contest, I knew instantly what I wanted to do. I was going to build a chicken coop chair!

For the first weeks of January, however, I was all tied up with other things, hardly on the computer at all. So it was getting close to the deadline when I finally took time to make my entry. I don't particularly like to build things; I am always getting distracted by a newer idea when I am about halfway through with something. I don't even particularly like to work with furniture kits. However, a commitment is a commitment….

Well, I opened the House of Miniatures kit that I had ordered from Kim in California, read the directions (gulping slightly), laid out all the diagrams, matched up all the pieces with their pictures, and started gluing. I got the legs put together and took a couple days for the glue to dry well and to work on my disabled website. Then I glued the foam on the seat and the back.

Then some more real life events intervened, and it was another few days before I got back to gluing the wood sections of the arms.

As I held the wood pieces tightly so the glue would set, my eye fell on a piece of very thin red leather that was in a bag of scraps I had picked up from one of the local boot companies. (I don't remember why I had it out; I must've gotten distracted when I was working with it.) I decided to use it instead of the fabric that came with the kit, got caught up in the actual construction and before I knew what had happened I had made a pretty respectable red leather chair.

I sat there at my work desk, slumped in my own chair, staring at my new mini chair, wondering what possessed me to make it look so nice. It did not look like it should have a chicken coop on it at all. In desperation because of the looming deadline, I thought, I'll just dump some paint on it so it will look like the dirt on top of the smokehouse, and then it will be easier to bash.

I swiveled my chair around and there behind me on my old work bench was a bottle of Brown Iron Oxide acrylic paint. I mixed it half and half with Tacky glue and started slopping it on. As the brown ran thickly down the chair back, I thought, That doesn't look like dirt; it looks like chocolate.

And then I spied a flower-trimmed resin letter E that I had planned to use in my garden shop. In a Viola! moment (and that was intentional; those who know my List know what I mean), I cried aloud, "Chocolate-Covered Chair E!"

And that's how my Chocolate-Covered Chair E's chair came about.

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