We’re dining at the table, once again

About 28 years ago I made the second of many moves that began at age 19, this time taking me from Ft Lauderdale to Hotlanta.  With that came a necessary change in furniture, from cool white rattan and wicker to warm pines and oaks.  One of my favorite purchases still follows me – an oak dining table with claw feet and chairs originally crafted in Tennessee.

Unfortunately, I chose to use vinyl tablecloths with the polyester flannel backing on the table for everyday use while living in the humid environment.  This pattern continued many years later after taking the table out of storage for use in marriage and the new family life.  With the kids and the move to linen table cloths came many sugary spills on the table that probably did not get cleaned up properly.  In addition, it had been years since I even made an attempt to try to clean up the accumulation – it was much easier to cover it up.  

As the kids got older, I became more interested in exposing the oak for all its beauty, but didn’t make the effort to do so until I began inquiring about work done by an obvious refinishing talent in local cafes – Doug Ballou.  Doug Ballou is the refinishing master who painted, stained and finished the beautiful table tops at Aqus Cafe, Redwood Cafe, Central Market and Water Street Bistro

Doug came by our home to evaluate the work the table would need and provide an estimate.  Though a bit daunted at the potential hours of work and many sheets of fine sandpaper it was going to take to remove the accumulation of flannel, he was still up for the challenge. 

With a potential trick up his sleeve – industrial strength Goo Gone – Doug set to work by coating the goop on the table top and placing it in the warm sun.  Fortunately for him, the trick worked and the flannel removal didn’t wear out his elbows!  From here he set to sanding down the wood, which was followed by using three tones of water-based stain to give it a dark edge fading to a lighter center.  He then applied six coasts of water-based Verathane satin floor finish, using a super fine sandpaper between each coat to ensure a smooth table top.  In my opinion:  a unique, classy,  timeless touch!  We’re back to eating at our table WITHOUT a tablecloth!

Doug’s talents are far from limited to refinishing furniture.  I had the pleasure of visiting him and lovely wife (and fellow Salon du Vin sister) Susanna in their home – Doug’s work was present everywhere!  Out of curiosity, I dug up this bit of background on him on the internet: “Doug attended the California College of Arts & Crafts, earning a BFA in drawing, painting, and printmaking in 1973.  He lives, works, and plays in Petaluma, and has studied and collected Native art from around the world. Artworks from the Americas, Oceana, and Asia are his favorites, and have had the strongest influence on his own work.  Doug has also done numerous abstract paintings on tabletops for local cafes, such as the Water Street Bistro and the Aqus Café, both in Petaluma, and shows his paintings and masks in several local venues.”

Doug currently has a collection of his post-primative masks staged at my favorite chocolate shop, Viva Cocolat, entitled “Found Faces“.  While you may drop in to view Doug’s work anytime between now and October 24, you are more than welcome to also drop in Saturday, September 8 (Petaluma’s monthly Art Walk night) , to meet Doug himself at Viva Cocolat’s artist reception from 5:00pm to 8:00pm.  And while you’re there, do enjoy some chocolate!


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