My broken chair and I visited the Proteus Gowanus Fixers' Collective last Thursday. As I said in an earlier post, I wanted to repair the chair so it can do what it does best, which is offer people (and cats) a place to sit. This old rush-bottom chair, given to me by a member of my family, is special. It embodies the Platonic chairness of a chair, and when the rush-bottom chair broke last year, I wanted to repair it with my own hands.
More and more these days, I want to do things myself. I'm not alone. There's a green DIY movement out there: http://www.instructables.com. It's all about recycling, collaborating, and getting stuff for free.
So that's what I thought about last Thursday as my chair and I took the bus
and the subway
to the Proteus Gowanus gallery space at 543 Union St. in Brooklyn, feeling a little nervous before we entered. My poor little chair looked so vulnerable and broken.
To be honest, I liked the idea of doing a DIY repair on my chair, but I didn't think it would actually get fixed. I'm a cynic. Things fall apart, and you live with them that way.
Then I walked into the gallery and met David Mahfouda and Jan Drojarski, two master fixers. They're both artists and have a much different approach to fixing things than me, the hopeless and lazy cynic. David and Jan seek to displace cultural patterns that alienate us from our things by learning the skills and patience necessary to care for them.
But I can't express it the way they do. Here's the text from a Fixers' Collective postcard: "Intentionally aligning itself with forces generated in reaction to the current economic crisis, the Fixers' Collective promotes a counter-ethos that values functionality, simplicity, and ingenuity and that respects age, persistence and adequacy."
David Mahfouda (left) and Jacob Kramer, Fixers' Collective members
Wow. There is hope, after all. My chair and I had come to the right place. In their low-key way, Jan and David encouraged me to take the tools into my own hands and take on the challenge of fixing my chair myself.
Though Jan helped me (a lot). He went to furniture-making school and introduced me to the concepts of wood glue, epoxy and needle-nose pliers. And pushing and shoving things around a lot. DIY is a less exacting science than I'd originally thought. But it works.
Jan Drojarski, Fixers' Collective, and me (below). Smiling with success!
The chair is back home now, fixed and ready to offer a seat. My cat Maradona isn't interested, however. She doesn't recognize how perfectly chair-y and adequate the rush-bottom chair is.
Do You Want to Be a Fixer? Bring your broken stuff to the Proteus Gowanus Fixers' Collective's weekly Thursday workshops, where all manner of broken objecs will be offered up for collective consideration. You don't have to know anything, but you are requested to fill out an online form before you come. Just be willing to take chances and learn! Commercial exchange of skills do not play a part in the Collective, though bartering and donations are welcome.