The Little Scottish Footstool
Case Study #4: The Little Scottish Footstool
Not all my commissioned bespoke projects are big pieces of furniture. I met Bea at a local Artists Open Houses event. I could tell she liked my work and she had spent some time looking at the pieces I had on display and studied my portfolio, or ‘Look Book’ twice. When things were a little quieter, she came back to me and asked a little nervously, ‘I don’t suppose you do little footstools do you?’’ “Of course I do”, I replied.
Bea had a little round footstool that she had been given by her father many years ago. It was a bit knocked and battered and was still in its calico underwear.
We had a little chat about what she had in mind. Her father was a Scottish miner and then an engineer. The footstool had been beautifully handmade in his home town and he had given it to Bea as a present. She had never got around to doing anything with it. The little footstool just moved around with Bea through various house moves and now lived under the TV cabinet.
She wanted something that would remind her of her Dad. We explored an abstract design of cogs and wheels to represent his engineering career, briefly considered a miner’s lamp, but after a little more delving it was clear that Bea wanted something that paid tribute to her Scottish roots that she could pass onto her English grandchildren.
The issue was how to do something Scottish without it being twee. Bea wanted something classic and elegant that would tie in with her own furnishings and a dark blue and white saltire was definitely not going to work.
I went home and did a little research. I didn’t want to do just a thistle it needed a bit more. I came across a design for a thistle that was more of a heraldic crest and worked in just one colour way ~ simple and elegant. Then I pondered on what else I could include. I brain stormed ‘Scottishness’ and the poet Robbie Burns popped into my mind. More research followed. It turns out that Scotland’s favourite poet is not known for his succinctness. It was near impossible to find a quote from any of his works that would fit onto a little footstool.
I called a Scottish friend of mine to bat ideas off her. After all of two minutes, she said ‘what’s wrong with for auld lang syne?’ She assured me it meant a lot to Scottish people and it was often used as a phrase to remember old friends and family members. Perfect!
I showed Bea my ideas. She loved them and we quickly finalised the design. Next, we decided on a neutral linen fabric, with the design embroidered in a mid-grey colour to tone in with Bea’s existing colour scheme in her lounge.
The woodwork was carefully cleaned up using my Dad’s secret recipe. He was a French polisher by trade. It restored the lovely original patina to the woodwork and took away some of the scratches and marks without losing its history.
I was really pleased with the finished footstool and felt I had met the client’s brief, creating something that would be admired and treasured by the family for years to come.
Thank you for your lovely work on my footstool. I am more than delighted with it and it will have pride of place now rather than left under the TV cabinet!
My dad will be very pleased I have done something with it at last after all these years, but I say that everything is done when it’s the right time for it. Thanks once more and I am sure we will meet again in the future