Once Upon a Spindle—

Once upon a time these spindles were the miniature support beams of staircase banisters. I imagine, a time in the past, little children wearing pajamas had placed their cheeks against some of these spindles—as they held on with pudgy toddler fingers—peeking between the spindles—hoping to remain undetected to those below.

The staircase they belonged to—was perhaps, once the centerpiece of a home—whether that staircase swept gracefully upstairs in a formal entry foyer or was hidden behind the kitchen as a creaky, steep back-staircase, which was climbed laboriously after a long day of work. Or—were some of these—the spindles which stood like soldiers standing guard in a row upon a porch? Having once served such worthy purposes in the past, these spindles were now only dusty relics. I suppose, some believe, there is only value in these spindles if the goal is to create a new (vintage) staircase. This was not what I saw—or felt—when I discovered them!

It was a little unnerving—I found them on a “second floor” which had been created by the suspension of steel grates from—somewhere!  I was uncertain if the room was being supported from below—or hanging from the ceiling? The certainties were, that in this created second floor of this cold and damp warehouse, the conditions were dusty and dark. The grate floor was transparent between the mesh openings which added suspense to the encounter, as a sense of falling occurred as I looked down to the floor below. There were hundreds and hundreds of spindles stacked upon—more stacks— and the abundant overflow had been vertically piled into buckets. Sharp, bent and rusty nails protruded in haphazard patterns—each spindle needed to be handled with respect to avoid injury.

As I pulled the first wooden spindle out of the heavy stack— there was the thrill of discovery—in my mind’s eye—within each spindle I saw a unique wooden sculpture.

Carved pieces of art—with history—each one with turnings, soft curves, or small consecutive rolls which created a pinstripe appearance—there were angles and geometric shapes. I wondered what the intent had been of each design what had been the inspiration behind them? This treasure trove was rich with a variety of aged woods; pine, elm, oak and mahogany. Some of the spindles had been painted at various periods of their lives—now the paint was chipped, sun-baked or peeling. The classic-porch-white had now turned to vanilla with age, rich barn red, classic greens and both merry and mellow yellows lay on top of one another. A rainbow of spindles.

Our selection was made—we chose varied shapes, heights and colors. I had a vision, an idea—and now it was time for our expert at Rooster Ridge to magically make it happen! (Magic translates into painstaking hard work, patience and a never-give-up attitude!) I am grateful that creative ideas are often my genre—however, most often, the execution of the idea is not done by me. Okay—fine, rarely done by me. The designs and creations at Rooster Ridge are brought to fruition with the patience and tenacity of Steven. We’re a good team.

First the spindles were sanded, not completely cleanly, as the remnants of the paint and bruises of the wear are what we believe creates the interesting surface patina. Steven hung them in The Barn at Rooster Ridge for a clear coat—it made for an interesting display, as they were suspended from beams on hot-pink nylon cord. A table saw came next as a base was created from a vintage board—a new piece of wood would lack the coordination of character so vintage was obtained! Structurally, the base needed to be heavy enough to be able to support the tall spindles to prevent them from toppling over. The next step was to make wooden pegs and affix them to the bottom of each spindle—while coordinating holes were drilled into the bases. The fun part of the idea was to have the spindles be removable and interchangeable—enabling the ability to make different arrangements.

We made three sizes of bases; a 5-spindle, a 3-spindle and a single-spindle base!

There are so many ways of using these custom vintage spindle-candelabras—the ideas and thoughts are dizzying! We are looking forward to lining them up on a buffet table, down the center of a dining table or placed on an end table or coffee table. The mantle also serves as a lovely home!

At Rooster Ridge we love design, vintage style and unique ways of creating and Re-Purposing—always attempting to bring art into our lives!

Art Lives!