Monday, August 17, 2015

The Patio Tables, Part 2

This is part 2 of two posts about a pair of patio tables my parents bought in the 1960s or early ’70s: Repainting them was one of my summertime projects this year! Click here for part 1, the history of these little tables.

So here we are in 2015, and the tables are renewed. This is at least the sixth redo! I wanted them to scintillate again, to have something “groovy” on them.

Preparing the surfaces is always a bear—scraping, sanding, and scouring off the rust and flaking paint is never fun, but it gives you time to think, and to visualize.

Since I’ve been enjoying the Bhagavad Gita in recent years, I thought the symbol for Om would be kinda neat. I visualized it as being so large that it kind of dripped off the edges.

Sue scanned the quarter-inch-high Om character that appears as a decorative type dingbat at the end of each chapter in my book, then enlarged it to table-size with her amazing computer graphics skills. She printed it out for me, tiling it on four sheets of typing paper, making me a pattern.

From the moment I hatched the plan, I envisioned the character as dark or forest green on a lilac background . . . but as I kept thinking about it, I decided I wanted it to be more energetic, less restful. I wanted it to scintillate!

Why the Om? I like the idea that sound, vibration, music underlies or permeates all of creation. This sound, this music, is not only creation itself but also the name of God, the true nature of reality, and Om is a sound we can produce that connects us to all of the above. And I don’t see it as a counterculture or anti-Christian symbol at all. I see it as one of many human efforts to express and celebrate the vast, majestic, all-encompassing oneness of God, the All That Is.

Plus, it’s an elegant symbol, appealing on a purely visual level. (Especially when it scintillates!)

The second table was much more challenging to paint, with all its persnickety straight lines and perfect corners. At its center is a pan-Asian, Greek, European, African, and Native American symbol for good luck, eternity, and other sacred and auspicious ideas. Before Hitler appropriated that symbol and gave it evil connotations, it was a commonly used decorative element worldwide, with nothing but positive connotations. (Gee, thanks, Hitler, ya asshole. You also ruined a perfectly good mustache style, as well as the once-fine name of Adolph.)

As you can see, my table includes a much more elaborate design than just “that symbol” (long called a gammadion, from the Greek)—and hopefully by making the positive and negative spaces somewhat ambiguous I’ve downplayed anything startling, and emphasized the symbol’s original meaning. Visually, you kind of have to follow a maze before you can see the “eternity” symbol in the center. Hopefully, by then, the act of looking at the entire design has gotten my intended meaning across intuitively.

What do you think? Pretty cool, eh?

. . . Anyway, I’m happy with ’em!

And yes, we’ll be bringing them inside when we’re not actively using them outdoors. I think I want to keep them nice for a while!

Bonus fun! I made a wonderful discovery soon after I’d finished painting the first table: If I stare steadily at the center of these designs for about 20 or 30 seconds, then close my eyes or look at a blank paper or wall, the image remains as a retinal negative-colored afterimage—the red parts of the designs appear as blue, which fades gradually into turquoise and green. What a cool surprise! Try it with the images above! (Remember, you can click on any image on my blog to see it larger.)

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