Oil lamps sparkle on burgundy wine
While words of old become the words of new
Poetic gestures always seem to end in perfect rhyme
While shadows frame the room with a piece of mind
I was born too late
I’m a hundred years behind
I was born too late
If I could only go back in time

Born Too Late
– Rusty Wolfe

This is a verse and chorus from a song I wrote and recorded almost forty years ago. How true it is still today and how well those words have served me. I continue to be romanced by a way of life that was before my time.

Often I find damaged pieces of something old that has enough of its form left to show that it was once glorious. To many people, these remnants are considered beyond repair. I enjoy the challenge of resurrecting them and dreaming about what they might become in this new, contemporary world.

While shopping at a local antique mall, I found the remains of an old printer’s cabinet from a now-defunct Tullahoma newspaper. It once housed thousands of small pieces of movable type. It had only two of its original twelve drawers. The frame was severely damaged, and none of the slanted top was intact. I had always wanted a cabinet to hold my print-block collection, and I saw an opportunity to resurrect this one-hundred-year-old gem.

I followed the lines of the original frame, adding decorative panels on the sides to replace the missing wood. I topped those panels with metal print type, creating small, framed pieces of history.

I salvaged the one good drawer with a hundred small compartments inside to preserve the true spirit of the original piece of furniture and used it as the top drawer to this new cabinet. The rest of the wood was used to construct deeper, more conventional drawers. I utilized some period Eastlake bin pulls from my collection to dress up the fronts.

The new cabinet is a very refined piece of contemporary furniture, although I chose to leave the primitive legs to showcase the cabinet’s original, rougher style. This one detail reveals its true worn and weathered past. Normally, you would see the entire cabinet scrapped and only the drawer salvaged because it can be used as wall-hung collection storage.

For more about Rusty Wolfe and Finer Things Gallery, visit www.finerthingsgallerynashville.com.

Photograph by Lawrence Boothby

Photograph by
Lawrence Boothby

Rusty Wolfe is a painter, sculptor, furniture designer, and entrepreneur. His works are available at fine art galleries around the country and locally at Finer Things.

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