Today, we are happy to have Jan’s husband, Tom Johnson, share a guest post. He is a wonderful husband, dad, accomplished entertainer, actor, singer, and musician, all around fix-it guy, remodeler, furniture builder, biker, and most of all–his grandkids adore him! You can find out more about the group he performs with here.
And You Want That Pink and Purple?
Phone call: “Dad, do you think you could make a Princess Carriage for Songbird? She really wants one for her ‘Little People.’”
My response: “I could do that. Any ideas as to what exactly she wants?”
Phone call: “Just something made by Pa would be exactly what she would want.”
My response: “O-k-a-y.” (Drawn out to sound like the gears are actually turning in my brain when actually I am scrambling around up there trying to even get a clue to what I could make that would qualify as a “Princess Carriage.”)
After what seems like a short eternity, I respond: “Well, give me a chance to think about it, and I’ll see what I can come up with.”
Phone call: “Thanks, Dad. I know she’ll love it.”
We hang up, and I immediately begin an Internet search for “Princess Carriages.”
Follow-up text the next day: “Oh, yeah. She would really like it to be pink and purple.”
My inside “texter” responded, “Not my department, talk to your Mom.”
I actually return texted, “No problem!”
Yeah, right! Pink and purple what exactly? I continue my extensive search for pictures of P/Cs (Princess Carriage).
Oh, there were tons of pictures of P/Cs on the Internet, spanning the designs of pink plastic ones with white stallions at the front, all decked out with filigree and accoutrements to simple, hand carved, hand painted two-wheeled oxcart ones. The plaguing thought kept dive-bombing my spinning gray matter, “Maybe this one would be better bought than crafted.” But then that one little phrase fought back: “Just something made by Pa would be exactly what she would want.”
Friends, this should be the Paul Revere cry of creative people around the world! Yes, we could throw a couple of bucks at a store clerk (or a lot of bucks, after my discoveries searching the Internet) and get something that would be enjoyed for a relatively short time or we can throw ourselves into the creative whirlwind where the sky is the limit to make and give something that will be a treasure for a lifetime.
Ok, I’m climbing off my soapbox now to continue the story.
I stood in my workshop/garage for quite a while before the light bulb came on in my cranium. You know, usually that’s what real creativity takes: Slow down, take a deep breath and let your imagination run for a while. On the shelf below my drill press I saw a 4X4x6 block of old basswood, too aged and hard to whittle but too valuable to throw out. It was curved on one side where I had cut some carving blanks years ago and that was where my inspiration leaped into action. The curve of the cut became the curve of the top of the carriage. I took the block over to the band saw and cut a ½ inch wide piece along the shape of the curve. From there, a cabin out of ¼ inch plywood was pretty easy to shape, using the band saw to cut the top to match the curve of the roof.
The under-carriage of the P/C was a little more challenging because of the wheel structure. I wanted to use a dowel for the axle because I remembered I had some hand-lathed oak doorknob backs a friend had made for me years ago during a fall festival where I work. They had such character that I knew they would make great carriage wheels and the hole in the center was perfect 3/8 inch dowel diameter. So the undercarriage design took a little more sitting and thinking. After a little trial and error, sanding and drilling, the undercarriage took form. The basic carriage was on its way to design completion.
Since the P/C was for her “Little People” (see the Sailboat design from February 27, 2014), I needed to make seating for the princess and the prince inside the P/C. Then the driver needed his seat, of course, so that came next. And, everyone knows the princess doesn’t travel without many changes of clothes and her other important things, so a trunk had to be added to the rear of the P/C.
After sanding and dry-fitting the pieces, Grandma took over the “pink and purple” part of the project. She even found a crown to adorn the roof of the carriage so that everyone would know it was the carriage of the princess. Pink and purple paints, fabric designs and filigree, and wheel spokes, all painstakingly applied, were exactly what the pieces needed so that when they were all assembled, the P/C was complete.
A little glue and some air nailing brought the whole project together: A pink and purple Princess Carriage.
This is what Songbird thought of her new Princess Carriage…