My husband, Bob, says I see whimsy in everything! Perhaps I do. Life is much too serious to add anything to it that doesn't include some kind of pleasure, or better yet, fun.
That's why I believe whatever you use...eat...say...sit on or look at should make you smile, or at least feel better. When I paint there’s usually a smile in there somewhere. And whenever my work has kids and pets; well, they just bring out their own brand of sweet aaaaah smiles with no help needed.
Call it whimsy if you like; but whenever I think of something novel, or unusual, it almost always makes me smile. My hope is you too will find a smile in there as well.
When we built our new home, Bob dubbed it, “The House of Whimsy.” Okay, I designed it with a secret room behind a bookcase that swings away. That lets grandchildren talk and text away from the adults. And it has beds that are hidden so you can tell your secrets to your cousins or friends when you’re sleeping over.
There's even a super-secret room off to one side that's bursting with American Girl dolls, a place to play even if you're really too old. We call it "organizing," but what a pleasant time for grandmothers and grandaughters.
But when it was completee, I knew the house needed a swing on the terrace. What’s a grandma without one? My son-in-law wondered out loud if it should face towards the wooded area where I might watch a delightful family of foxes, or back across the terrace to visit with family and friends. I told him I wanted BOTH.
Kentucky women tend to be hardheaded breed, and I’m no exception. It didn’t take long to draw up a picture of a swing with a back that tilted in two directions. I showed it to Rick Petroski, an exceptional carpenter who’d help build our home, and asked, “Can you build this?”
Rick said, “If you can draw it, I can build it.” And indeed he did.
The back of the prototype swing pivoted so we could look out into the yard or tilt it in the other direction and talk to our friends. From the reactions of our family and friends we knew we had a unique line of swings, and a new business was born, Push Back Time, LLC.
But I wanted the swings to be distinctive, fine furnitute suitable for a den as well as outdoors, so they are solid mahogany, a wood known known for its weather-resistant properties as well as its elegance. Each piece is varnished and hand-rubbed to bring out the beauty of the wood before being assembled into a swing.
When everything is together, the manogany gets additional coats of stain, paint or clearcoat, and is hand-rubbed between coats. The results are breathtaking.
The four swing backs I designed are based on traditional furniture styles, but they're named for songs composed by Duke Ellington. Bob and I love his music and a number of Ellington's song titles relate in some way to our swings.
“Don’t Get Around Much Anymore” is a basic Chippendale design and “Sophisticated Lady”is more intricate.
“Take the ‘A’ Train” resembles a fence, something like those in a subway station, while the other swing back has vertical slats that give it a relaxed look so it's called in "Take It Easy." We first used this design in a bench that fit in beautifully where swing would not hang.
We considered applying for a patent but it turned out many passenger cars on railroad trains have seat backs that pivot. But with a nudge from my daughter, Debbie, we developed a way to lift the back off and use the swing as a bed. Our Weather...Or Not™ swing has has a patent pending on the unique design.
While all this was happening, my whimsy carried me in another direction.
I've always enjoyed painting, but the problem was I couldn’t pursue it while I was pursuing my children as they grew up. Then my time went into pursuing my grandchildren...until recently. Now they are more interested in sports, girls, and boys and less on their Dackdoo (my grandmother name), and that has allowed me to return to painting.
There are limits to being whimsical when you're designing swings, but when I began painting pillows my imagination swung wide open.
Like the swings, I wanted the pillows to be both distinct and practical so I used outdoor fabrics and waterproof paint that will withstand a good rain, or even being washed with a hose. The link to our swings was a natural one, and and we added pillows to the Weather...Or Not™ Pillows product line.
Some were designed to complement the swings
This was one leg of my granddaughter's jeans until she cut it off to make shorts. It has been transformed into a small pillow with a pocket holding a pen...for mothers to give to daughters going away....or children who need something to hold onto with messages from family and friends. It doesn't have a name yet, but it will.
That’s what’s nice about being an artist.
Yes, I think whimsy is wonderful; and my hope is whatever I can do for you, artistically or otherwise, will give you good reason to smile.