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Saturday, April 10, 2010

Casey and the Bean Bag.....

No....This tale is nothing like "Jack and the Beanstalk". This one is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

It all started back in 1970. I was living on my own here in Tucson. Yup. It was before Walter and I were married. I lived in an apartment and had neighbors that were really good friends.

They moved to Palm Beach, Florida. After they settled in, they invited me to come down there for a vacation. The agreement was they would furnish all the entertainment and a place to stay if I would paint them a large nude to hang over their new sofa. It was a bit of a joke. They wanted a painting on black velvet, like the ones from Mexico that were popular at the time. Nothing really showed. It was a girl laying on her side with her back turned, looking over her shoulder, with artfully draped fabric in the important places....

Anyway, that took only one morning. After that Joan, knowing that I loved unusual furniture, talked me into a trip to one of the high end decorator shops to see a chair. She was sure that I had never seen another one like it and she assured me that I would want one. Very mysterious. It was much better than watching paint dry.

When we got there, she led me to the aforementioned chair and I was instantly in love with it. It was bright red plush and the largest "pillow" I had ever seen. Not a pillow. My very first beanbag sighting! We took turns plopping down in it and wiggling to get comfy. I definitely wanted one. There were a couple of catches. I didn't think that a six foot beanbag would fit in my carry on luggage and the price tag turned me a nice shade of that lime green that we were talking about yesterday. It was six hundred dollars and a few more! It was imported from Italy.

There was nothing like it in Tucson. Believe me, I looked everywhere. And then I looked some more.

I knew what they had used for "stuffing" because Joan had kept a look out whilst I discretely unzipped the zipper on the bottom and peeked inside. There was a lining, but I could feel the little Styrofoam pellets. Again, I looked all over Tucson for someone that sold those....Nowhere.

I had no doubt that I could sew the lining and the outside. I was just unsure of the measurements.

Then a few months later, one of the magazines came out with a one page article on how to make one. It was complete with diagram and instructions. One problem solved.(The instructions are to the left. Poke the photo to make them larger.)

This long story has a purpose. Stick with me....What to use for the pellets? I was in Walgreen's Drugstore one afternoon and noticed that they were doing and end of summer close out on Styrofoam surfboards. I examined them. They were made of the very pellets that I was looking for, but they were all stuck together. Not far away, there were some Styrofoam ice chests...Also on clearance. I bought one of each and took them home.

How to get them apart? I first tried chopping them up with a steak knife. Too big.

Hmmmm.....I had a blender that I seldom used. Mad scientist that I am, I chopped off a couple of hunks of the surf board and popped them in the blender. It worked. In a matter of minutes, I had a half cup of little balls.

I ran back to Walgreen's and wiped them out of surfboards. I think that there were eight left. The lady at the check out looked at me strangely, shook her head, and rang them up. She didn't ask and I didn't offer to tell her why I needed eight surfboards and five ice chests. I think that they were something like a dollar a piece on sale.

Did I mention that all I could find in plush was brown? Not quite like the original, but close enough.

After a couple of weeks of chopping and blending surfboards, I could see that there wasn't going to be enough pellets. I started begging friends and co-workers to save packing peanuts for me.

Meanwhile, my blender(plastic model) had a sandblasted finish on the interior. It was no longer clear and every time I turned it on, full or not, it would spit out little white balls from beneath.

After a month or so of full time blending, I had enough. I sewed the outer skins and started stuffing.

My apartment looked like there had been a blizzard, but I could proudly say that I had, as far as I knew, the very first beanbag chair in Tucson.

That particular chair lasted until April was about 5 or 6 years old. That would make it about 10 years.

Over the years I have made others from that same pattern, including several in miniature.

Tomorrow I will give you a tutorial for that size. I don't know where I put the mini pattern and am going to have to draw up another one. Until then, I am consulting with Widget.....He wants a cat sized one. It can be done!

See you tomorrow.


Debbie said...

I look forward to that tutorial Casey.
My friends kids when they were little tore open a bean bag and played sliding in the balls they were everywhere. The only way to pick them up was sucking them up the Hoover. The Balls not the kids.. LOL

rosanna said...

Casey, I was thinking of the beanbag chair a few days ago and how I 'd have liked to do a mini version. Here is called Fracchia chair from a popular comic movie. I'll love the tut. Thank you very much Rosanna

FabShabbyRoses said...

Thanks for the award Casey! And on the subject of the beanbag.....every teenagers favorite chair.....what a lot of work you went to, to make your one. You must have been so proud of yourself! I'm sure everyone was in awe when they saw it! Ahhh the memories!!!!

Dlsarmywife said...

Casey you always paint the most wonderful visuals! LOL I can just see your blender coughing up white pellets every time you turn it on! =D

Jean Day said...

Your Widget looks just like my Smokey. So cool about the bean bag chair, they used to be so much fun.