Thursday, November 29, 2012

Alcott Autumn: A Piano for Beth

"Look there! Look there!" Beth did look, and turned pale with delight and surprise, for there stood a little cabinet piano, with a letter lying on the glossy lid, directed like a sign board to "Miss Elizabeth March."

"For me?" gasped Beth, holding onto Jo and feeling as if she should tumble down, it was such an overwhelming thing altogether. --------

"Miss March: "Dear Madam--" "How nice it sounds! I wish someone would write to me so!" said Amy, who thought the old-fashioned address very elegant.

"`I have had many pairs of slippers in my life, but I never had any that suited me so well as yours, '" continues Jo. "`Heartsease is my favorite flower, and these will always remind me of the gentle giver. I like to pay my debts, so I know you will allow `the old gentleman' to send you something which once belonged to the little grand daughter he lost. With hearty thanks and best wishes, I remain "`Your grateful friend and humble servant, "`JAMES LAURENCE' -------

Beth tried it, and everyone pronounced it the most remarkable piano ever heard. It had evidently been newly tuned and put in apple- pie order, but, perfect as it was, I think the real charm lay in the happiest of all happy faces which leaned over it, as Beth lovingly touched the beautiful black and white keys and pressed the bright pedals.

"You'll have to go and thank him," said Jo, by way of a joke, for the idea of the child's really going never entered her head.

If you will believe me, she went and knocked at the study door before she gave herself time to think, and when a gruff voice called out, "come in!" she did go in, right up to Mr. Laurence, who looked quite taken aback, and held out her hand, saying, with only a small quaver in her voice, "I came to thank you, sir, for..." But she didn't finish, for he looked so friendly that she forgot her speech and, only remembering that he had lost the little girl he loved, she put both arms round his neck and kissed him.

If the roof of the house had suddenly flown off, the old gentleman wouldn't have been more astonished. But he liked it. Oh, dear, yes, he liked it amazingly! And was so touched and pleased by that confiding little kiss that all his crustiness vanished, and he just set her on his knee, and laid his wrinkled cheek against her rosy one, feeling as if he had got his own little grand daughter back again. Beth ceased to fear him from that moment, and sat there talking to him as cozily as if she had known him all her life, for love casts out fear, and gratitude can conquer pride.

-Louisa May Alcott's "Little Women"

I know, it's a long quote, but I couldn't pare it down any further. I love that chapter so much! In honor of Beth's love of the piano, I am sharing a recent piano makeover I did.

I am not a great pianist (Erika is, just FYI.)  But I truly love to play the piano. My parents and my poor piano teacher Gwen can rest assured that the 8 years of lessons at least paid off in happiness in my heart, even if they didn't pay off in any useful abilities.

My husband hates moving things. He mysteriously develops an illness whenever we have to move. We did it every 9 months of the first several years of marriage, and I began to see that pattern.

Pianos are not easy to move.

My husband has banned me from Craigslist.

Buuuuuuuuuuuut, after suckering family and friends into dragging this thing in and out of a pickup truck, a chalk paint makeover, and six months of piano music being played in our home, Hubby admits that he truly likes the piano! It's a Christmas miracle!

 Do you like that slurpee in the "before" pic? we like to class things up around here.

Here's the nitty gritty:

Homemade Chalk Paint
(Starting to understand the chalk paint obsession amongst bloggers. Awesome stuff- I didn't have to sand or prime or ANYTHING!!!)

Mix 1 cup latex paint to 1-2 tablespoons of Plaster of Paris
(I found it easier to just mix some water into the plaster first so it wouldn't form any clumps)

After mixing, paint on with a sponge roller, or brush (I just used a normal paintbrush)
and REPEAT. The first coat will be pretty light. A second coat is important. 

Sand to distress as desired. You can apply vaseline to edges before painting to make distressing easier, but I find it's not difficult to distress without it and I worry about using too much vaseline, so I was happy with this method.

Seal the job with Furniture wax if desired. 
I still haven't gotten around to waxing, but it is seriously durable stuff!

  Sanding is a piece of cake when you only have to do the edges!

 I added some plain hardware, although I am on the lookout for some crystal knobs :)

Christmas Music, here I come!!!

Framed here is a watercolor print of the Alcott family home, Orchard House. It was painted by May Alcott, the youngest sister of Louisa.

And that's my piano! I love it almost as much as Beth loved hers, even if I can't elicit the same beautiful music from mine :/ 
Have a lovely day!

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