I lost my father over Christmas. He was a larger-than-life man with character, strength and more love than any one human should have the capacity for. Respecting and bringing new life to this trunk became very important to me, literally overnight. After years of being content to use it as-is, suddenly I felt it needed restoration, rejuvenation and to stand proud again. And maybe a bit of sparkle because the light my father brought to this earth was no longer.
The trunks of that period were built to last. Perhaps it shows how poor my grandfather was that his trunk is not in fact metal, but a low-grade of timber covered in thick cardboard. Some of the outer shell had fallen or flaked off with age and use. The leather handles had all but shredded away.
I didn't know where I was going with it or how the trunk would evolve, I just needed to paint it...so I did. I taped off the metal trim, ran my Hemp Oil Brush roughly over the surface then began painting with Miss Mustard Seed's Milk Paint in Linen.
I've had this trunk since I was a little girl. Even when I was very young, I would ask my mother about items that were stored in the garage (a favourite place of exploration for me). I listened to the stories, collected old photos, costume jewellery and a few items like this trunk, which to many might've seemed odd for a child, but to me, felt natural.
Shortly after I "inherited" this trunk and lugged it into my room, I remember my father coming in one night, spotting it and saying, "Hey...that was my fathers!" I replied a little uncertainly, "I know, mom told me I can have it?" He looked a bit puzzled (likely wondering why his daughter would want a beat-up old trunk in her very-girly room). But then a smile lit up his face, his blue eyes twinkled and he said, "You know, that's the only thing he had with him when he got to America..."
As a young man, my grandfather fled what was then communist Russia. Not unlike a scene out of a movie, the story goes that he hid on the back of horse cart full of rubbish or fruit (the story varies!) with only the clothes on his back. He found work on steamer ships and eventually arrived at the Panama Canal where he worked helping to build it for nearly two years to earn money to continue his journey. Eventually he made his way to Los Angeles, with to my understanding, only this trunk.
After a few days I doused the trunk in Hemp Oil again (it was very thirsty!) I used my hands, a rag and a Paint/Wax Brush to massage the surface, transferring Boxwood onto the Linen in the process, softening its colour and pulling through just enough of the original finish in spots for a gorgeously layered effect.
I allowed it to sit another couple of days before sealing it with Miss Mustard Seed's Furniture Wax. It's curing now and I've decided to leave it in my studio while this happens, enjoying its presence. But after the 30 days, it will move into my home again and we will continue our life together!
I loved this journey and all that I felt and thought about while working on it...pondering on the past, the future and considering and appreciating all of the adventure and wonderment this world has in store for each of us.
Thank you for indulging my sentiment and playing a role by being here to share this with me. I wish you all a steamer trunk full of joy and history, as well as a celebration of things yet to come.