(Editor’s note: This project appears out of chronological order as a result of a recent discovery of documentary photographic evidence.)
Nature is fickle. Nature is temperamental. Nature is difficult to discern or predict; and is impossible to tame. Nature is awful and terrifying, wreaking destruction and carnage. Nature is impassive, indifferent and callous.
As a literary device, Nature is one of the three sources of conflict that we face. After conflict with ourselves and with other people, we clash only with Nature. And yet, day after day, we live with Nature and ignore the potential of devastation that may be wrought at any time.
It is under this veil of deceit that I began this project…
Every so often the drudgery of routine life lends a subtle nudge to the decision-making process: a nudge that often finds me amidst the repercussions of a questionable decision, scratching my head in confusion. These are the circumstances under which I came to be in possession of an end table of the very ’90s persuasion, replete in square-tapered legs, vaguely Roman fluted corners and a soul-punishing black speckled paint finish.
So it was, on a hot and sunny August afternoon, I dragged the canvas drop cloth out under the grape arbor and set to work ridding the world of one more inexplicable spattering of paint. After stripping, wiping and cleaning, I left the table out to dry under the sun.
And this is where the conceit of my seemingly peaceful coexistence with Nature came crashing down. As I relaxed on the couch, catching up on some manner of Netflix indulgence, a freak afternoon storm quietly marched across the sky, dumping unusual amounts of rain for the region; drenching all that stood in its path. Including a table. A table that had, until very recently, been protected from the elements by a crystal clear coating of polyurethane; a synthetic polymer, one of whose primary attributes is resisting water.
The sad irony of this timing is not lost on me. Upon noticing the downpour, I rushed outside to save my precious project, only to find that it had already been drenched and that the water had reacted with the remaining bits of stripper that had not yet dried, discoloring the wood.
I waited a solid day for everything to dry out, and then spent several hours sanding, scrubbing and bleaching to get the stains out of the wood grain: all to little avail. Disheartened, I almost tossed the table, intent to never speak of it again, so long as I shall live.
But, a funny thing happened. After staring at the table for several days, I began to see something new in my mistake and the look of it began to grow on me. It was unique. It was funky. It was certainly a one-of-a-kind finish. I thought that maybe, just maybe, someone else would appreciate it as well. In an effort to retain as much of the funkiness as possible, I opted against staining and simply hand-rubbed it with teak oil. This took several coats, applied with a clean rag, each of which were allowed to completely dry, until it had a nice satin finish and felt like well-loved wood.
We had a little more difficulty finding a loving home than I anticipated, but ultimately it ended up (if memory serves) leaving us to become a printer stand. Hopefully it is serving someone well and my rookie mistake of ignoring the fickleness of Nature is being appreciated for the funkiness that it is.
- Daly’s Seafin Teak Oil
- Contractor-grade gel paint remover
- Lots of sandpaper