I know it’s unbecoming to gloat, so I guess I’ll just say that there’s still a place in the world where people abandon Eames shell chairs on the curb. This magical wonderland is called Brooklyn. And I’ll add that if I were you, I’d leave me nasty, name-calling comments, too. I won’t take it personally. Because look what I found:
When I say found, I mean found. Like in the trash. Like for free. In my E! True Hollywood Story, “This Magic Moment” by The Drifters will be cued now. Sure, it’s grungy, but that’s my thing.
This proves a privately long-held belief that I need to be around my friend Juliet ALL THE TIME. I always find the goods when we’re together– she also bore witness to the $35 Bertoia wire chair, the purchase of the $20 Orange Glo kitchen lamp, and was staying with me when I brought home the knock-off Breuer Cesca chair (and don’t forget the cute mid-century dresser that I temporarily stored for her after we found that on the curb too). Consequently, she thinks I have a problem, and this seemed like the appropriate moment to confront it head-on. I think the words “filth” and “hoarder tendencies” were used and “bedbugs” may or may not have been mentioned. Begrudgingly, I walked away.
But like any good scavenger, I was fixated on it. Sure I didn’t really need it, but I sure as hell wanted it. I could take it on the subway, it wouldn’t be the first time. It would clean up beautifully, and afterwards I’d occupy long hours admiring my handiwork. We’d made it about three blocks before moderate grumbles turned into manically spewed rationalizations and justifications. “But it might be a while before we have dining chairs. And I want to have people over. And where are they going to sit? Or now that I think about it, maybe I’ll sell it! That’s it, I’ll clean it up, sell it on Ebay, and use the money for things we do need! It’s easy and I already have all the supplies!” Of course I’m not selling it, but I would have said anything. My sanity is a fragile thing, and it needed me to bring home this chair as much as the chair needed my extensive DIY abilities.
Ultimately, this was about my independence. If I were to let a friend, however great and well-intentioned that friend may be, talk me out of a free Eames shell chair, could I ever respect myself again? Would I ever sleep peacefully, knowing what I’d done? This was PEER PRESSURE, people, and I don’t play that.
“You know, I read that they just found this woman dead in her apartment in New York,” Juliet said as if she’d tuned me out, like when you rush to change the channel in favor of something less annoying. “She was a hoarder and it took them two weeks to find her and dig her out. In her apartment! Can you believe that?”
“What did they do with her stuff?”
“You’re going back for it, aren’t you?”
“I’ll wait on the stoop. You do realize you’re crazy, right?”
Maybe it’s true. But when the men in white coats come, at least I’ll have fab furniture to cling to as they dig me out of my mess.
When I brought it home, even the other Eames chair was against it.
I followed all the same restoration steps that The Brick House and Chairfag told me to follow when I did this the first time (minus prying off and re-gluing the shock mounts). Most of that grime came off with a little scrubbing, the scuffs and gauges were fixed with some Mr. Clean Magic Eraser action, and a little wet sanding and a coat of Penetrol finished the job. It’s super easy. And just look at her!
I’m not really sure what was going on with the old base, but I guess it somehow got very bent out of shape and somebody tried to keep it from collapsing with packing tape (I mean, come on, at least spring for some duct tape). Luckily, I hadn’t gotten around to deciding what to do with the old h-base from my other chair, and the shockmounts were already narrow-mount on this one, so it seemed like a super easy swap! Right?
Well, things didn’t quite work out the way I planned- the shock mounts are this close to being properly aligned, but I couldn’t get the holes to line up for all four screws. For a few days I dreaded the thought of prying all the mounts off, re-sanding the entire back (since this was after the Penetrol dried, I didn’t think to check any of this beforehand), and reapplying them with epoxy and redoing the Penetrol. But then I just said “fuck it, good enough.” Since it’s resting on the mount anyway, I don’t think this is presenting any risk to the chair or those who sit in it. Oh, and I harvested one of the glides from the old broken base to replace the missing one on the less-old h-base, in case you were wondering. Anyway, she’s feeling pretty good about herself.