My husband came to our relationship with a particleboard chest of drawers covered with candle wax. This is not the sort of furniture I would normally allow in my dwelling, even back when I used “fancy” cinder blocks and boards as a bookshelf. He’d had the dresser since he was a child, and had been allowed as a teenager to let candles drip all over it, giving it what he considered to be a groovy 1970s bachelor pad feel. Whatever. I was in love, the dresser was large and sturdy (they don’t make particleboard like the used to), and my husband assured me I could paint it however I wanted. We started chipping away at the candle wax and started our life together. In the late 80s it was painted in a two-tone Southwestern motif — turquoise drawers and pastel pink handles (and yes, we had a howling coyote with a bandana around its neck sitting next to it). A few years later it moved into the tool shed, and there it sat until our oldest son wanted an astronaut room. Then out it came for a repainting. This time we used silver paint on most of it and red paint around the bottom third. We glued NASA and mission names on the sides and built a cone-shaped frame to sit on the top. For an 8-year-old it worked like a charm.
Last year, it was revamped again, this time as an Octopod ship for the Octonauts-themed room I’ve mentioned before. It was our most ambitious reworking so far — it needed tentacles coming out the side, it needed to evoke a sense of roundness, it needed eyes, it needed legs, and it needed an environment, both inside and out. And dang if we didn’t come up with just that!
I did the painting in a weekend and sorely wished someone who knew how to draw perspective was there to help me. Once I was more or less satisfied with the painted front (a general Octopod body and legs), I replaced two of the handles with large knobs (the eyes), glued whimsical flowers along the bottom to represent the Octonauts’ sea garden, and decoupaged some Octonaut scenes from their website into the middle of the ship. So far so good.
But the really fabulous part of this project were the tentacles. I cut 4 thin slices of logs (really big branches), painted them in matching colors, and drilled holes in the middle of each one. My husband used black tubing and some heavy-duty plumber’s tape to represent the tentacles. We fastened them to the sides of the dresser, bent the metal tape upward, and attached the painted log slices to the top of the tentacles. We added some round-shaped accouterments to the top of the tentacles to represent pods — a noise machine, a glass jar our son had decorated in class, a couple of blown-glass paper weights — and then dragged the whole thing into my son’s room. Surprise! It was way over-the-top, slightly ridiculous, and only haphazardly executed. Our 6-year-old son LOVED it. And I have to admit that I’ve come to cherish this 1960s particle board monstrosity as I would a family heirloom. Maybe my husband knew what he was doing when he brought it into our life. Or, he just thought the dripped candles looked cool.