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I started work on the satinwood dressing table this morning. The drawers were removed and their handles taken off, followed by a grope of the table top. I hadn’t taken too much notice of the top yesterday, but when I looked at it this morning, I thought it was waxed, rather than varnished. In fact it was beautifully waxed, with several layers of a rich golden beeswax. Alas, the top had a few too many blemishes to be left ‘as is’, so I set about taking the wax off. Here it is minus the wax, looking a little bit pale:

Satinwood dressing table

Once I’ve finished painting, the top will be waxed again. I wish I knew which brand of wax was used in the first place, the finish was lovely and suited the satinwood hues so well. Maybe it was just years and years of bees-waxing and elbow grease that built up that finish?

As I was working on the little ‘port holes’ I got a whiff of lavender, but thought nothing of it, assuming it was coming from the garden. Upon opening one of the port holes after lunch, I could smell the lavender again and realised that it was coming from the dressing table. The dressing table’s owner must have kept lavender sachets in the little cubby holes:

One of the ‘port holes’

How lovely it was too, making a change to the faint musty smell that often goes hand in hand with old furniture that’s been unused and unloved for some time.

I think dressing tables often hold a particularly personal touch to the past. One that I worked on a while back had wispy silver/blonde hairs in one of the small drawers. The dressing table was in beautiful condition, despite being over 80 years old and I knew that an elderly lady had sat at the lovely dressing table, brushing her fragile silver/blonde locks and placing her hair brush in the same drawer each day. Perhaps that dressing table had been with her for most of her life, cherished and looked after, the mirror’s image changing year upon year, from honeymoon to the twilight years.

They say that every picture tells a story, but furniture holds onto the past and gives glimpses of its intimate history, and from those clues a tale can be told.

The top picture has its own story to tell. You might just be able to make out some large blue writing to the back of the base unit; the maker has left his initials, which are intertwined in a fancy pattern. The year it was made is also present, along with some other script that I need to take a closer look at to see what it says.