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Tuesday, July 25, 2017

One Creative Approach to Writer's Block by Suz deMello



I recently blogged about what I do when I’m blocked, which is practically all the time these days. Below is one of my approaches:

Paradoxically: stop trying. Yes, I actually mean stop writing. Instead, do something else that exercises your creativity. My favorite is refinishing old furniture. I recently moved back into my condo, where a tenant’s been living while I cared for my elderly mother. She’s with my brother now, so I can resume my life, and I love being back in my home. But there were a lot of built-ins in my mom's house, including a huge dresser, where about a third of my clothes have been residing. And I gave my now ex-boyfriend the storage I’d been using—which itself had been a rescue-and-refinish item. So I get to do the same thing all over again. Yay!

I love the process of finding the right piece, deciding what colors to paint it, discovering the perfect drawer pulls. But you have to have the temperament for this. You have to love wandering around thrift shops and hardware stores. I happen to, so I’m good.

On a lark, a friend and I stopped by a Goodwill furniture store on Memorial Day, and spotted a solid maple dresser for only $90:



I instantly knew that I had spotted a great deal, so I bought it. And at checkout, I discovered that the deal was even better than I’d thought—Memorial Day was half-off day at Goodwill! So YES! I got this treasure for only $45!

I called a Lyft and got it home, where (as you can see) I put it on my lawn. Why, you ask?

Most paint should be used in places with excellent ventilation. I also knew I’d be sanding, and didn’t want to breathe in the dust. Plus, I’m clumsy and guaranteed to get paint all over the place despite how careful I might be. So the lawn is perfect. So the grass gets paint on it—so what? It grows out and gets cut.

Stage one: taking out drawers, sanding and applying the first coat.




I chose a chalk paint on the advice of a gal at my local hardware store, who seemed well versed in the Shabby Chic school of furniture refinishing, and that’s a look I love. So I tried it.






After sanding, I got a beautiful distressed look (above). However, that paint was not going to stay on and look beautiful. It flaked off when scratched with a fingernail. So I opted for a more conventional look—used primer and an acrylic based paint, topped by a spray varnish.

In the middle of the process, it unexpectedly rained:




But I was undeterred. Because of the rain and generally odd weather (anyone doubt global climate change? I don’t. It’s not supposed to rain so much in June in SacTown, and this year it rained a lot.) I moved everything undercover:





As you can see, I chose white with the drawer fronts in pale grey. I decided upon this color scheme for a few reasons—my default color for almost everything is white. I like my home to be light and bright. As for the grey, that was about the drawer pulls. This dresser has a bizarre number of drawer pulls—twenty. No, you didn’t misread that. There are twenty drawer pulls on a dresser with nine drawers. On top of that they are in two different sizes.

The ones that came with the dresser were hideous faux early American. Clearly intolerable. When I went to a hardware store to choose new pulls, only one type came in two sizes, the cup style ones I chose. They came in brushed silver, so I chose grey drawer fronts in hope that they would sort of blend together and the finished piece wouldn’t look so busy.

I also decided against the distressed look...after I had painted the thing with multiple coats of primer and paint, and then sprayed it with polyurethane finish, it was really hard to sand through all that to get the beat-up look. So I opted for letting it be.

And here it is, in place in my bedroom:




What do you think?

5 comments:

Tina Donahue said...

Love how it came out. Very pretty.

Fiona McGier said...

I looks great! Like it was built to look like that. You have a gift, and it's nice that you enjoy doing something so useful. Just curious, when you called for a Lyft, did you ask for someone with a truck, or tell them that you had a big dresser to get home? I'm just imagining you trying to bungee-cord it to the top of a small car, or reaching through the open window to hold it steady on the roof!

I, also, have been blocked for a while, but I have no choice in doing other things. My real life is really busy, and I work a lot. But lately I've been excited to sit at the laptop and write, so I think I'm in a temporary state of grace. I hope it lasts until the book is finished!

Kayelle Allen said...

Getting away does seem to help. :) And you have something lovely to show for it. Nice work!

KateM said...

Wow! I love what you did with the dresser and appreciate all the steps and hope that now your writing is on a roll.

We are just facing our mother's house, and the twin of your dresser is sitting there. Someone else may soon be blessed with a bargain and a project.

Happy Writing!

Suz said...

Thanks for all your great comments!

@FionaMcGier, when you request a Lyft, there's an option to choose a larger vehicle or a regular sedan. I chose the SUV :)