The Bookshelf: inspiration, evolution and experimentation

Sometimes you start a project with a vision, a plan of how it will go and then as you proceed that plan evolves, you start to experiment and before you know it you are inspired in a completely different direction. This is what happened with this bookshelf. It became a reflection of my evolution as an artist and my joy in realizing that I can make it whatever I want it to be. As a result it is a mish-mash of styles and tastes and yet is also something that is completely unique and perfect for me.

The base structure was provided to me by a friend, Cork Rockingham is how he wants to be known. (His wife has chosen Jorquelin). Cork and Jorquelin are great friends of ours and when I heard that Cork made furniture I was all in, especially as I kept hearing about all the wonderful pieces he had made for Jorquelin. I was even more excited when he agreed to let me take over his creative project and let me style it as I pleased. Thank you to you both!!!!

When the bookshelf arrived I was deep into my glass/tile mosaic period. Using some tiles I had purchased that had proved difficult to use in mosaics, I began decorating. My vision was to turn it into a mosaic masterpiece. Nearly every surface would be covered in tile and/or glass. It would be grouted and would reflect my latest passion and hobby. I continued with this vision while tiling two sides and adding tile coasters to the top. I then began to realize that if I continued it would be so heavy it would fall through the floor, or at least could never be moved.

Tiling the sides. My first step!

So it sat for a long time while I wondered about the best way to continue. My interests evolved while it sat there forlornly in my oh so white former studio. Finally I had enough and said it had to move to its final location as it could no longer clutter up unnecessary space. Just moving it to where it was supposed to be gave me the inspirational nudge I needed.

By this time I was fully into bead mosaics. As a result I decided to experiment with using beads as grout. This was not a totally successful experiment in my opinion as I could not get the beads to lie in perfectly flat straight rows – put it down to the difficulty in getting those porcelain tiles to cut in a perfectly straight line or my inability to lay them exactly equally apart. However I love the shine the beads bring to the bookshelf’s surface and they are far more interesting than the grey grout I had intended to use!

The grouting/beading is still in progress. This bit will take a while, but I find it fun and rewarding to do.
The top is also being grouted with beads. I love the look, although the perfectionist in me wants… perfection! This part is nearly done.

I then decided finally on a backing for my bookshelf. I had dithered between wediboard and plywood (during my tile/glass mosaic period), then I contemplated beads but balked at the huge number that would require. I finally settled on a plain rustic framed mirror which I happily attached to the bookshelf using several screws through the frame. It was a great pick, not only do you get to see your legs advancing down the hallway, but it has the added benefit of reflecting a large amount of light into what used to be a dark area!

The mirror install in progress!

By choosing a mirror I had created a new problem for myself. How to make it look like it belonged to the bookshelf rather than looking like it was slapped on the back. (Some people would tell me that seeing your legs everyday would be their major problem, but I have to confess I do not mind it, especially as I now get to see the faces of my pets as they run backwards and forwards!). I decided that as the mirror was flimsy I needed something to make it sturdy and stable. My thoughts immediately turned to Apoxy Sculpt. That stuff sets rock hard and yet also allows one to paint it, use different colors and be creative! I love nature so I decided to invite it in, in a controlled manner of course!!!!

I loved the color so much that I was inspired to change the slipcover on the couch!

Above is the back, finally finished and complete. A mix of apoxy sculpt, acrylic paint and varnish. It always makes me smile whenever I walk down that main hallway!

So all that remained now was to decide what to do with the inside of the bookshelf, or the shelves. Way back at the beginning I had intended to create a tier of sea creatures on the bookshelf back. I decided to transfer these to the shelves and instead of doing them as a mosaic I would do them with simple paint and a coat of varnish! Easier and would help to disguise the various materials that made up the shelves.

Unfortunately the backing of the mirror was a thick paper that crinkled when painted. However strangely enough for me, I like it as it makes it feel more watery to me.

I love how the shelves are turning out. I am still to do an octopus on the bottom. The edging is being done with an array of beads that ties the bookshelf to the top. I can’t wait for that bit to be finished!

As you can see, it is a totally unique piece with different things happening all over its surface and yet it seems totally appropriate for the spot where it is. It ties together our room and the adjoining rooms in a wonderful way and makes me smile every time I see it. It has quickly become my favorite piece of furniture in the house. So much so that I want to repeat the creative experience with a side table. I have no idea what the side table will become. I am sure it will be totally different to this bookshelf. But I know that I will enjoy the creative process and watching my vision of how it should be change and evolve as I change and evolve.