Style Court

Eight Years of Textiles, History, Art, Gardens, and a Little Mental Traveling with Courtney Barnes

8.25.2010

High-maintenance Posing as Low-maintenance



I think I'm establishing a solid track record for selecting projects that appear to be all about no-frills, easy-going style but in reality are a royal pain for the kind person helping me execute my vision ('royal' being a not-so-subtle reference to the Jane Austen-inspired royal-iced cookie incident of 1998).
[Pastry tool via Williams Sonoma; Still from Emma © 1996 Miramax.]

While I hope I've always had a healthy dose of respect for the professional upholsterers and craftspeople I've called upon in the past, watching my dad space and position nailheads on the recently completed (much appreciated) DIY sawhorse table was an eye opener. We experimented with laser levels, old fashioned levels, string lines and homemade templates but nonetheless some of the little buggers started to squirm out of place when tapped with the hammer. And even for those of us who like imperfect things, crooked nailheads are just sad. So, getting them all lined up was no easy feat. If you've ever attempted a project like this with an awl, or have your own tips, please share your insights!

It goes without saying that the next time I casually ask an upholsterer to space nailheads one and three quarters of an inch apart over grosgrain on a curvy chair, I'll better understand the effort that entails.

 [Ivory Maktas, 1700s and 1800s, Turkey. From a private collection. Image courtesy of the Michael C. Carlos Museum.]

As mentioned the other day, exquisite tools, sophisticated craftsmanship and painstaking artistry will be on view as part of two concurrent Islamic calligraphy exhibitions opening this week at Atlanta's Michael C. Carlos Museum.  In addition to learning more about this subject, I'm looking forward to seeing how the curators highlight all the small objects in the show and I plan to report on the preview shortly.

After my desk was finished, Dad discovered decades-old sawhorse hardware left behind by my granddad. Usually I favor vintage hardware, but as it turned out, I think the sleeker, newly purchased steel brackets better suited my project.

Nailhead image used in collage shown at top is from True Value Hardware. All other pictures are my own. 

8 comments:

La Maison Fou said...

Congrats on this project. Like the use of a utilitarian tool as a different purposed tool.
L.

Style Court said...

L --

Appreciate it. Thanks. I'd been looking at Julia Reed's for so many years, then of course the versions done by the Martha Stewart team. Now I finally have my own :)

Coté Provence said...

just discovered your lovely blog and I'm already a follower. Beautiful!

Style Court said...

Welcome CP! Thank you so much.

Phyllis said...

As a novice upholsterer, I can attest to how tricky those nailheads can be. Just when you think you have the hang of it, one goes askew. You just have to use the hammer to persuade it in the direction you wish it to go. Even that doesn't work all the time, so be prepared to remove it and start with a new nailhead.

Yes, there's a reason nailheads cost more.

Style Court said...

Hi Phyllis --

Thanks so much for weighing in.

I wanted to pay homage to all the professional upholsterers as well as poke a little fun at myself, but I also hoped to get input just like you shared, so this is helpful.

Janet said...

This makes me giggle! I have learned NOTHING is as easy as it seems. However, nothing feels as good as a job well done. And the nailheads look GREAT!

Style Court said...

Janet, that sounds a bit like a line from Austen :)

Thanks so much!