The One Dollar Chair

chair 1

I bought the chair a decade ago.

I bought it at an auction. It was the tail end of the auction, when they are quickly selling off the junk. It was broken in several places. Some of the trim was missing. I got it for a buck.

It sat in the back room of my house, the one I call “the project room.” It is full of things like the old chair. Broken, but interesting. Eventually, I get to most of them. Now and then I have a “What was I thinking?” moment and toss some of them out.

I kept the chair.

Finally, a couple of years ago, I started the repairs. They were slow because the wood is dry and brittle. No sooner would I begin a repair than the wood would break around it. It was frustrating and slow. I plied the wood with oil to make it supple and eventually, with screws, wood putty, glues and a copious number of clamps, I eventually got it solid.

Solid, but kind of ugly. For some parts of the chair, there was more repair than chair. And the wood is heavily scarred. But I didn’t. There was just something about it…

So I set in on the back porch. It was big and comfortable and mostly got lost in the other stuff back there. I sat in it to read sometimes. Visitors rarely noticed it. I’m not sure my wife even noticed it.

And then I got married. When two grown-ups get married, there is a sifting out process that happens. You both have furniture. Things come in. Things go out. Things get thrown out. It was time to let go of the odd one dollar chair.

Only, I wasn’t ready. I could not have told you why. TRuely there was no logical explanation. But I wasn’t ready to take it to the dump, so I took it to my art studio. I would sit in it and read or sketch. No one else saw it. My studio is a quiet place, except for the music I play. I don’t get a lot of visitors.

Not long ago, I was painting and I had some paint left over. That’s not unusual. I often overestimate how much paint I will need for a painting and I have these big globs of color on my palette. I can’t stuff it back in the tubes. So I often end up starting another painting with it. I don’t like to waste paint. That comes from a time when I was much poorer than I am now.

And suddenly, I looked at the chair. And at my left over paint.

Yes, you figured it out. I began painting the chair. The paint didn’t go far. But since then, when I have leftover paint, I put some on the chair. Slowly, the one-dollar chair is turning into a piece of art. I don’t use all the colors, but only ones that work with each other. I do want it to turn into something worth seeing when I am done.

It’s fun, and for me, it’s like watching a kid grow up, from potential to reaching it’s potential. Seeing it come into its own. There’s joy in it, maybe more joy than doing a painting, just because I waited so long to find it, so long to be able to see what could be.

And because I never gave up on it.

I could carve other lessons out of this I am sure. But for now, I’ll just enjoy the process, and the art emergent. There’s a place in life for sheer enjoyment.

And that is another lesson.

Be well. Travel wisely,


chair 2

chair 3



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