The Bamboo Beast - Casey Grace Studio, LLC

The Bamboo Beast

I want to share the story of what we affectionately call, The Bamboo Beast. It’s a story of transformation and perseverance, both for her, this lovely beast, and for me and the team. It’s a transformation worth sharing.

I found this piece on FB Marketplace last summer. I am always looking for faux bamboo dressers, such as the Henry Link, Bali Hai type, so this one caught my eye. But this listing didn’t say who the maker was and often it’s better not to ask but to figure it out yourself from the photos. Often the hardware will give it away. I knew this one was somewhat significant because of the hardware. My business partner didn’t see the opportunity in this piece, which I understand because it had chipping grey chalk paint on it and the brass hardware had been painted silver. It just looked like a lot of work. The seller said this piece was her aunt’s and she’d helped her paint it but now she didn’t need it anymore and was helping her sell it.

I bought it and drove out to St. Helens to pick it up. Fitting it in my car was going to be tight but paying for delivery would have been cost prohibitive and I would have walked away if it didn’t fit. When I got there, they already had all the drawers removed and it was sitting in the garage on a dolly. That should have been my first sign. Her dad and uncle lifted the body of the piece in the car, my second sign. But then we place the drawers in and around it and I saw the label, American of Martinsville. Ah ha – this was a great piece of furniture, a grand dame for sure!

I then noticed one of the drawers did not have a slide so I asked about it. She said, “oh that’s why one of them was wonky!” Ugh! I had asked about issues, but people are often not honest about these things or just unaware. That’s why the drawers were not in it when I arrived. Oh well, I figured I could make this repair when I got it home. It was American of Martinsville, it’s worth it!

However, that was another mistake, how many is that so far? The next morning, my dad and I tried to get it out of the back of my car so I could do quick repairs and then take it to my painter. Well that wasn’t happening! This thing was way too heavy! So I called my carpenter and described a few of the repairs to see if it made sense to ask him to do them. He could repair it and then take it to my painters. So that’s what I did.

Turned out there were more issues than I thought. We ended up replacing all the drawer sliders to ensure all the drawers were square and flush. Also a few drawers had some rather large dings in the edges so he had to do new veneer around all the edges. Since this piece had no face frame for the drawers to sit flush against, each drawer had to be exactly square. He also recommended we put the piece on casters – I couldn’t say YES fast enough! The back was ripped as well so that needed to be replaced.

So about a week later Jon was done and he got it over to the paint shop. Then we had other issues. Because we weren’t totally sure how this chalk paint would react to the lacquer finish, we decided we should put another waterbased product on top vs. a solvent based product. Solvent on solvent and water on water is always more predictable than combining the two in any order. So Curator was my answer to that one!

Curator is a fantastic high-end water based import from Ireland. Portland is one of a handful of places in the country that has Curator in stock. I’ve used it on a few pieces already as a test and my painter wanted to spray it as an alternative to Benjamin Moore Advance which he often uses for other clients. So this was his chance.

The Curator colors are so fantastic! I often feel like they are cleaner and less dull and muddy than Farrow & Ball colors which many people love. I do have a few F&B colors I intend to use, but I’ve now tried about 12 colors of Curator and not one of them has been a disappointment.

For the Bamboo Beast we went with Lemon Drizzle Cake which is a soft yellow. Although paint dries slower than lacquer, which is a huge downside when you’re doing high gloss because it leaves more “open” time for debris to land in it, it came out great in the end. There was a tiny little bug that landed in the first coat, but he sanded him out and was able to keep it all clean in the final coat.

When applying the finishing touches I did not love the original brass hardware with the lemon yellow, after I’d removed the silver paint and polished it clean. Part of it had to do with the detail on it, not just the coloring. Cost wise, I should not have purchased new hardware, but I couldn’t help it on this piece. I also went the extra mile and added drawer lining on all drawers. It just helped finish off this piece. Sometimes my creative instincts just overpower my business sense. It’s a problem. Anyhoo….

Literally this piece is almost new. In some pieces you can still see a nick or scratch here and there from prior age and use, it’s vintage adventures showing through. This piece doesn’t have that. It’s smooth as glass!

Whoever gets this piece is taking home a little piece of my heart, as well as Jon, Eric and my dad’s. We are all super invested in who finally adopts this grand dame and as of this date, she’s still available! The Bamboo Beast taught me some huge lessons in what I choose, how to be smart when I engage with buyers, both over the airwaves and in person. I truly understand now how strong my creative desires are, over and above reason at times and how I need some personal checks and balances to manage both the creative and operational side of this business. The partners I have chosen to work with have done so much to help in this process, educating me along this journey. I am so grateful for their support, encouragement and enthusiasm.

This piece has had 3 full lives and been completely transformed twice. I love how well designed pieces can have a sustainable design impact. I imagine the rooms this piece lived out during its original state in the late 1960’s, its’ grey chalk paint life probably painted in the 1980’s and now the yummy Lemon Yellow Drizzle Cake life finished in late 2021. I can’t wait to see who cares for her in this next journey of life. Will she go to a baby’s room, a guest room in a beach home, a traditional home on the East Coast, or…..maybe you’ll take her home!

If she’s still available, check her out here.

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