Saturday, December 14, 2013

Grand Vision
Pintrest, the ultimate DIY-motivator
Originally published October 18, 2013 in the Santa Cruz Sentinel

Their finished piano bookcase graces the entryway to the Pointer’s Aromas home
—making a stunning first impression as you enter their home.
When I first looked at Pintrest—a popular pin-board style, photo-sharing website—I was unimpressed. Sure, I can type in just about any word or phrase in my head and see an often amazing collection of photos. If I type in the word “piano,” for example, I see a turquoise upright, a pink baby grand, steps and fences painted to look like black and white piano keys, piano nail art, a piano wine bar, and an amazing player piano converted into a gushing garden fountain. My reactions range from “way too cute” to “is that Photoshopped or for real?!” But if I search Pintrest for a project, such as “how to make a piano bookcase,” I get, “We couldn’t find any results, but you might try Holidays, Corgis, Sneakers, or Pasta!”

Pintrest does have a “DIY and Crafts” section where you’ll see instructions for making simple home goods such as terrariums, tote bags, gift tags, Christmas ornaments and cat scratching posts. But if you want to know how to make something larger or more complex, you’re better off searching DIY websites like Instructables. Pintrest describes itself as “a tool for collecting and organizing things you love” and tries to stick to that directive.

Fred and AR carefully move the awkward and still-heavy piano case
 from saw horses to two rolling dollies, to transport it back into the
garage after working on it in the driveway.
But it turns out that Pintrest is a powerful DIY-motivator, even without the step-by-step instructions. All some people really need is a little inspiration. My friends, AR and Fred Pointer, made a piano bookcase with no guidance at all, other than a photo she found on Pintrest. “I don’t have a lot of original thoughts,” says AR. “But, if I can see it, I can usually figure out how to do it.”

AR is passionate about repurposing things she finds in online and literal secondhand stores. Her living room walls have unusual, black and white pieces she’s collected, including an antique-looking eye chart, a Santos doll, a human target and a huge 35 MPH speed limit sign. She and Fred—both retired—also attend auctions and go on garage sale vacations. “We’re not really looking for anything,” says AR. “We just enjoy going.” A lot of what they find they refashion into something wonderful for their home, which you’d think might be cluttered with their finds, but isn’t.

AR holds some of the more interesting pieces gathered from the
 old baby grand, which was also, at one time, a player piano.
They found the baby grand they needed for the bookcase at AA Auctions in Santa Cruz, where anyone can bid online or in person at their by-monthly Thursday evening auctions. “It had a player piano attached and a lot of rust, so I didn’t feel too bad about disassembling it. There was no way to restore it,” AR says. (But she had to reassure her musical family by sending them rusted hardware from inside the piano, just to show them it couldn’t have been saved.)

To be successful at an auction, AR says, “When the professionals stop bidding, that’s when you bid one more time. I’m willing to pay a little more.” In the case of the piano, however, she wasn’t bidding against anyone else, so she kept her bid constant over several weeks until the reserve was finally lowered and they had their baby grand.

Fred Pointer sands the wood at the end of the
 keyboard that he will later paint black.

Next they had to hire a mover to haul the bulky 700 pound piano to their home in Aromas. “The piano was cheap,” says Fred with a smile. “It was getting it home that cost a lot.” They took off the legs to make the transportation easier. Once in their garage, they let it sit for awhile, contemplating their next move. They tied a rope to the rafters and looped it around the piano so it couldn’t fall over while they were working on it. “We had to take the bottom off in little pieces,” says Fred, “just to see what was inside.”

Once inside the piano, they learned that cutting the 220 taut wire strings could be dangerous, since they would fly like metal whips. “I didn’t have a tool to loosen them up, and I wasn’t gonna buy one when I’ve got a pair of tin snips,” says Fred. “So I put a towel over them for when they flew. Even with the towel some of them got away.” Removing the cast iron harp was also difficult. “It was too heavy, so my son had to help,” says AR.

As they continued removing the guts of the piano—making space for the shelves—they saved and sorted all the nuts and screws, hinges and gears. “With a 700 pound piano, there’s a lot of metal,” says AR, holding some of the pieces in her hand. “I’m gonna keep these, and make something with the interesting ones.” Their labor of love led to some surprises. “We found a lot of people’s signatures on the inside—the people who put it together,” says AR. “And every one of the keys were numbered.”

It took them about six months to complete the project, working when they had time, and making design decisions along the way. They removed the action, but kept the keyboard intact. Fred sanded and refinished the beautiful wood on the outside of the case, but painted the inside black. They oriented the bookcase with the keys on the right, and used French cleats to secure it to the wall of their entry hall, resting a few inches off the floor on rounded feet—a stunning first impression as you walk through the front door. AR used many of the small patinated metal and wood pieces she had saved to make a lovely shadowbox collage, which she hung above the curved portion of the bookcase. “We felt almost a reverence for this piano. You really wanted to honor the craftsmanship,” says AR.

If you join Pintrest, you can create theme-based image collections around your interests and hobbies. My sister-in-law, for example, used Pintrest to help choose a color palette and design her new kitchen, saving photos of kitchens done in shades of gray and honey oak. At a baby shower I attended last summer, where the cake, decorations and tableware were done in hot pink and zebra print, the hostess asked me to take photos so they could be posted on Pintrest.
AR Pointer saved some of her favorite pieces from the dismantling of the piano
and assembled them into a beautiful shadow box display, which she
 hung on the wall above to the piano bookcase. (photo by AR Pointer)

I haven’t joined Pintrest yet (and neither has AR), and I’m still cutting out idea photos and recipes from magazines and newspapers and literally pinning them to a corkboard on the wall behind my computer. But it’s probably only a matter of time and space before I succumb to the wisdom of storing all my inspiration in one convenient, virtual location.

Before they were even done with their bookcase piano project, AR excitedly showed me a photo from Pintrest of her next project: a wine bar made from an upright piano. “This next one will be easier,” predicts AR. She and Fred don’t drink, so they will probably give it away.  “It will hone our carpentry skills,” AR says with a smile. “It’s really just for fun.”

A beautiful fall wreath, made by AR
graces the front of the Pointer's home.

No comments: