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We have a new mural in the living room that the entire family loves. It was designed and painted by a good friend of ours (thanks, Tramaine!); it contains symbolism that relates to every member of our family (including a pet chicken); and it didn’t cost us a penny. We used barter to get it done, and as a result of the mural, we were able to heal a rift that had been brewing in the house for more than a year. This is some mural!
The Back Story
My husband got a rather large plasma screen TV last year as part of a new patio space for me. I’m not sure how a television relates to outdoor living, but this was the compromise we (more or less) happily settled on.
But when it came to hanging photos or art on the wall near the TV, the trouble began. I didn’t want a black monolithic screen taking up the entire wall of our small living room, and my DH refused to let anything detract from the high-def plasma screen – not beautiful paintings or gorgeous shots of our beloved children. “Nothing can detract from the amazingly crisp screen! Look at it, will you? Isn’t it beautiful?!”
Back to trying to find a compromise. He asked, “Could we hang a sheet over it when we weren’t watching it?” I politely told him to stuff the sheet where the sun don’t shine. I suggested we build a wooden cabinet on the wall, and hang the flat screen inside it. Too much trouble and too dominating in the room, the hubby countered.
Wallpaper was a fairly good solution for both of us, but then we couldn’t agree on a pattern. I wanted more of a pattern than he could visualize. And the vintage papers we both sort of liked were pretty pricey (and we’d just bought a plasma TV, so there wasn’t really any extra moolah hanging around).
After 11 or so months of this, I’d had it, and a solution finally fell into my lap. Last fall, we’d lent a log splitter to a friend so he could get his firewood in order for heating his house during the winter. His partner, Tramaine de Senna, is an artist and painter. She offered to do a mural or some other painting in exchange for the loan of the log splitter, and we agreed that someday that would be cool. Then, in early February we arranged for them to housesit and watch our cats while we were out of town, and everything clicked into place.
Tramaine worked with me on a color scheme that we thought Bruce would like, and asked for a list of everyone’s favorite animals (“power animals,” she calls them).
So we left out the cat food and some old cans of paint, and hit the road. Coming back home and walking into the living room to see our new wall was way better than any Christmas morning in recent memory.
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We all oohed and ahhed, and excitedly pointed out fun features to each other. “Look, there’s a panda! Oh, and an alligator!” “Here’s the chicken, and there are skulls hiding in the flowers!” Even Bruce, my hubby, was amazed and really pleased with the result.
And as is usually the case, we can’t understand why it took us so long to get it done in the first place. Tramaine’s headed off to an art fellowship in Berlin later this spring, and while we’ll all miss her terribly, we’ll get to think of her and enjoy her artwork everyday for years to come. It’s the best barter ever!
What’s the best barter you’ve ever been a part of? Tell us about it in the Comments.
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shawnconna

Sometimes helpful editor and digital media director at MAKE and CRAFT.


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Comments

  1. Mequet says:

    My husband works in I.T. and they’re always just throwing out their old computers, hard drives, keyboards, cell phones, etc. We traded a laptop that they were going to throw away for a lawn mower. Score!!!

  2. (lia) says:

    The best barter I ever did was with a friend who was running a bachelor auction for her non-profit. I agreed to get my two hottest male frinds to be auctioned and in return she painted and donated a beautiful piece for my non-profit’s art auction. (In order to make the hotties participate I had to further barter by accompanying one to a networking event!)

  3. SarahA says:

    My friend made a beautiful new website for me in exchange for a pair of elbow length wool gloves in sock yarn. I am also planning to knit some socks for another friend in exchange for some photos for my knitting patterns.

  4. Rebecca Stern says:

    In art school, most people don’t know how to make websites, but all artists need websites these days! Recently I made my friend and fibers artist Amy Long a website, and in exchange she taught me how to felt (wet felting, needle felting). It was awesome!

  5. Bruce says:

    “a rather large plasma screen TV”? Are you talking about that little thing??

  6. The Clever Mom says:

    I’m a doula by trade and decided to put it out there that I will allow any portion after my retainer to be bartered. My first barter agreement totalling $400 of $725 full fee (for classes and birth doula) results in me receiving 1 bread item, 1 meal, 1 sweet baked good and 1 preserve every week for 8 weeks. The woman is a part time caterer who is opening a bakery after her baby arrives and grows up a little. She delivers the food on Sunday, just before supper and it’s all still warm from the oven. After receiving the first installment of honey oat bread, cannelloni, cupcakes and harvest jelly I feel like I have the better end of the deal. I love bartering!

  7. rubystudios says:

    Here’s the scenario:
    My grandfather needed a new roof. I had an old bike I wanted to sell. My boyfriend’s co-worker had 19 bundles of new shingles left over from a job. The rest is history! :)

  8. rubystudios says:

    Here’s the scenario:
    My grandfather needed a new roof over the addition on his house. I had a bicycle I wanted to sell. My boyfriend’s co-worker had 19 new bundles of shingles left over from a job.
    The rest is history!

  9. Cassie says:

    I’ve been bartering knitted hats and feather clips for haircuts and jewelry :)

  10. anonymous says:

    is your TV hooked up to a DVD player ?
    could you make DVD’s of your family photos … or buy DVD’s of artwork, etc ??

  11. anonymous says:

    oops … another idea … take photos of the mural … put them on DVD and play … the black screen is now “hidden” by the mural pictures