We receive bunches of catalogs at our house (we like to look at pictures), and from these periodicals come ideas for things to build. The latest had a collection of furniture pieces that were distressed, and the wife pointed them out saying that she liked them.
Unfortunately, I was less than agreeable. I really don’t like distressed furniture. If you do, I have no quarrel with you. For me, distressed furniture short-circuits one of my reasons for building furniture in the first place.
When I see an old table, or chair, or cabinet, I am tempted to rub my hand across it and feel it’s age. As I do, I think to myself, “What stories this could tell” and picture the potential life that revolved around this collection of wood. Every scratch and every nick has a story behind it; a piece of life that brought it into being. An old piece of furniture has history. It is a remembrance of those that owned and used it. It is weathered, worn, distressed.
Distressed furniture copies the look of old furniture, but has no stories to tell. To my way of thinking, distressed furniture is a book with blank pages; an empty promise. Distressed furniture says it has a story to tell but is really mute. Distressed furniture pretends it has history, yet it has none.
One of the joys I receive from furniture making is seeing my work used; seeing it wearing and collecting history. When I make something for my children or their cousins, they have told me that they look forward to passing it on to their children and grandchildren. Each piece is an heirloom in seed form just waiting to accumulate stories and history.
To me there is life in furniture absorbed over time from those that surround it. Distressed furniture is to history like putting on tights and tying a towel around your neck is to being a super hero. The look is there, but there’s nothing underneath.
But then again, I may be a bit on the sentimental side.
-- Working at Woodworking http://www.VillageLaneFurniture.com