Updated: Aug 20, 2020
My younger sister Nicole and I have always crafted together, we are 24 years apart and from when she was a child she would spend Saturdays with me where we would do all kinds of art projects. As she grew older our projects included, painting rooms, re upholstering furniture, making each other crafty Christmas presents that we alone fully appreciated.
Then in 2013 we lost our dad. His death came one year after the devastating effects of Hurricane Sandy that ripped through the homes of my dad, my sister, and my house in the Fall of 2012. The death of my father took my breath away...It took the breath away from my 3 sisters, Cindy, Lauren & Nicole and my stepmom Lisa and all of our children. I have learned since then, that during a time of heartbreak and loss, you can find the moments of beauty. They are there, you just have to look a little harder to find them.
I had a conversation with Nicole a month after our dad's passing I said, "lets start a business, I don't care what it is but lets collaborate together" Nicole shared with me this beautifully painted dresser that she had done and we came to a quick decision to repurpose and upcycle furniture. We spent two months, finding pieces, starting an Etsy store, coming up with a name & designing a logo, which became "Double Arrow Designs" the acronym D.A.D which was for our dad. The time that Nicole and I spent became our therapeutic art sessions where we laughed, we cried, we told stories about anything and everything. I would always say during this time, that Nicole taught me to how paint within the lines when necessary and I taught her how to paint outside the lines when necessary, we were perfect partners!
Some of the my most favorite pieces were the ones we repainted and created printed textiles. I loved the juxtaposition of the hard wood with the soft upholstery. This became our side business for the better part of 3 years. Nicole used it on her resume as her "Passion Project" I called it a hobby that paid for itself. Either way we both gained so much from it.
So as an Artist, turned Children's wear designer, (you can read that here in my first blog)
I was happy to create not just in the computer, but in real life. To recreate or repurpose something into a new functional piece that someone would take pleasure from.
We found that the best pieces that sold were bookshelves, unique pieces, anything reupholstered. What didn't sell were tables... I have a few left in my basement as testament to this.
In hind sight, this is where my love of up cycling started (my sustainability blog tells of my current journey, you can read that here). In our first piece, Nicole found a wood bookshelf and thought after carrying it to the bus stop that she would casually get on the bus. Well the bus driver took one look at her and the bookshelf and denied her entry! She walked blocks and finally hailed a taxi while carrying it through the cold city streets. She wondered if her judgment was off by picking up this specific piece. But we transformed it into a unique bookshelf that sold quickly on our Etsy store
Nicole and I would look at an unfinished piece and discuss what our vision was. We both had a view point but we always seemed to organically come to the right decision for what the piece would ultimately be transformed into. Creativity is a process, it's a way of thinking... It lives inside your head until you execute it into a painting or an object.
We also started taking custom projects from people and for awhile refinished old hope chests, below is a repainted and refinished chest for our sister's Beach house.
The beauty of these design projects was that I didn't have anyone telling me how to do it or what something should look like. This goes on all the time as a creative in my field. Everyone wants to be the designer, yet they have no idea what it takes! My all-time favorite project was this amazing telephone chair that we scored. We repainted and had acquired old skeleton keys (you can see one used on our sisters beach chest above) I took one of the keys and used it as a stamp to create a print on a canvas fabric that we used to reupholster the chair portion. This is where I got to use my design skills!
I could go on for days talking about all the different projects and painting we would do every weekend. Our business also included, hand painted pallet signs, custom etched glasses, stenciled pillow covers, unique Christmas ornaments. This will have to be a whole other blog post! This was such a special time in my life, a moment where we could take our artistic talent and use it for something that totally belonged to us. I loved seeing the unfinished pieces transformed magically before our eyes.
Design encompasses so many facets of my life, it's how I think, how I process information, it is who I am. My sister and I no longer have this business, it served its purpose and helped to heal us both, and for this I will be forever grateful. Today, Nicole lives with her husband in San Francisco where she is a UX Designer for Google. I am currently working on my online presence and blogging. In a moment of adversity, even now during the COVID-19 Pandemic, the magic is finding the opportunities. Because they exist, it is just up to us to find them!
Mod podge was used to seal the maps down onto the stools
Stencils were made from the Cameo machine
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