What Fang Doesn’t Know: I Was a Pre-School Tracing Prodigy!

childtracingFor those of you who have been following along on my quest to “Purge the Hovel”, I’m here to report that it’s coming along nicely. Sadly, I must also report that the initial enthusiasm with which Fang and Fangette threw themselves into the task, has waned. And by waned what I really mean is that they have, pretty much, ceased any real “active involvement” in the project. And, really, I may have been giving them a little too much credit when I used the word “enthusiasm” to describe the capacity in which they were involved at all. If I’m being honest, they didn’t exactly “throw themselves into the task”, either. Really, it was more like they sauntered. Okay. They were dragged kicking and screaming. But, they did it. So, that’s something, right?

The main living space has taken on a decidedly different style. It’s gone from what I like to call “Early American Poverty” to something at least resembling “Shabby Chic”. It’s clean. It’s comfy. I’m happy with it. And so, for the most part, is Fang.

Fang fought me tooth and nail when I embarked upon this long overdue transformation. Being smart enough to know when he’s beaten, though, he did ultimately join me in my efforts at home improvement. He didn’t just grudgingly haul a whole bunch of junk out to the curb, which was a great help to me physically. He, more importantly, was both emotionally and spiritually supportive. This was a big step for Fang. Because he doesn’t like change. Because he’s opposed to anything that might require the expenditure of money and/or cut in on his leisure time. Mostly, though, Fang hates painting. Hates it. With every fiber of his being. And paint is the cornerstone of the “Shabby Chic” thing. It really is.

Fang’s normally affable demeanor takes a turn to the whiny and childish whenever he even senses that I might be about to paint something. He even spent money to buy a pre-shabbified painted dining room set and vintage sewing machine table turned desk. His hands didn’t even shake when, in his presence, I forked over the cash to my new best friend, Cookie, over at “Handpainted by Cookie” for these items! I guess he thought that this meant that I wouldn’t be painting anything.

Poor, Fang. Sometimes it’s like he doesn’t know me at all!

Of course I found some things that I just had to paint myself. First on the list were my Grandmother’s old, beat up, leather-topped tables. I chose to use chalk paint because I hoped that it would stick to the battered leather tops. It did! I chose a color called “Gray Timber Wolf” because it is a nice, neutral shade that I thought would complement the color palette that I’ve been working with. It does!

Here’s the problem, though: It’s boring. It just kind of says, “Blah!”. Who wants to do all the work I’ve done only to be faced, at the end of the day, with “Blah!” Not me. I am of the opinion that your living space should reflect who you are. For a long time, “Early American Poverty” did just that. Now, though, I feel that I’ve moved beyond that — in an upward direction. Also, I’m a lot of things. But, I’m not “Blah!”

So, I went on Pinterest. I found some things I liked. Some ways to “de-Blah!” the tables. Some of them involve stencils or image transfers. All of them require MORE painting. When I advised Fang that I was thinking about ordering some stencils or downloading some images to transfer, his reaction was, as you can imagine, not positive. Just because his “active involvement” in the hovel purge has ceased, doesn’t mean he doesn’t have opinions in the matter. His latest opinion is that “Stencils are stupid. They just look fake. And that other thing? I don’t even know that you could do that. You can’t even draw a stick figure.”

Putting aside for a moment his lack of confidence in my ability to TRACE something and then FILL IT IN with paint, something that even a third grader sporting an eye patch and with one hand tied behind her back, could probably do, let’s address his attitude toward stencils. Fake? What does that even mean? It means that he doesn’t want me fussing around with stencils. That’s what he meant. And, really, what’s “fake” about them? His argument, such as it was, made no sense at all to me. None.

His opposition to stenciling isn’t what put me off of it, though. I was leaning more toward the other method anyway. Yes. It’s a little more involved. It is also undoubtedly far more time-consuming. It may even require a few more (inexpensive!) supplies. On the plus side, it provides more options than does the stencil method. I understand his reluctance to trust me with a free-hand drawing. I’m no artist. Nor would I ever make any such claim. I know my limitations. Honestly, though, I mastered TRACING in my youth, for crying out loud! I may even have been more advanced than my counterparts in this arena. It didn’t take me until the third grade to get it right, I can tell you that! If they gave out “Tracing Awards”, I would’ve received one in pre-school. Pre-school!

I have a distinct memory of Mrs. Pillsbury, the owner/operator of “Mrs. Pillsbury’s Pre-School”, where I was a bright and promising pupil, putting her hand on my back and giving me an encouraging smile as she looked at my tracing of “Snow White”. (Snow was in the midst of examining the beautiful apple that the crone had just given her! Don’t eat it, Snow! DO NOT EAT IT!)

Mrs. Pillsbury, in that kind, sweet, and HONEST, way she had, said, “What FINE tracing skills you have, Jacqueline!” And then, when I had finished my masterpiece, she HUNG IT UP — as AN EXAMPLE — A FINE EXAMPLE (!) of what others could accomplish if they worked hard enough and devoted the necessary time and attention to detail that those of us with advanced tracing skills were already in possession of! I was practically a tracing prodigy. Imagine the success I might have enjoyed had I kept with it. But I moved on. To foolish things. Like gluing macaroni to construction paper and coloring in the lines.

While I haven’t actively traced anything in years, I think it’s safe to say that it’s a skill, like riding a bike, that once learned, doesn’t abandon you. So, the next time I write about the tables, don’t be surprised if they look more like this:



than this:



photo credits:
Child tracing (Morguefile.com)
Gray coffee table (Me!)
“Café” table

14 thoughts on “What Fang Doesn’t Know: I Was a Pre-School Tracing Prodigy!

  1. […] To Trading One Addiction For Another. Mother of the Year. My Husband Is Much Nicer Than His Wife. What Fang Doesn’t Know: I Was a Pre-School Tracing Prodigy! My “Relaxing” Weekend Off!Miss Marge’s One-Armed Vanity Chair […]


  2. ohlidia says:

    LOVE the tables!


  3. shalilah2002 says:

    I really like this. You sure are a creative lady.


    • javaj240 says:

      Thank you. Just to be clear, though, I did not create that painted tabletop. It was created by a gentleman by the name of AndrewParkes. If you click on the “cafe table” photo credit, it will take you to his site. He was kind enough to permit me to use the image!


  4. Early American Poverty. OMG.


    Also, bloody talented too! Your table is amazing! Do you take orders? x


    • javaj240 says:

      Do I take orders? That’s what I do for a living, sister! LOL!

      And that table with the graphics is not something I did — it’s an inspiration for what I’m about to do, though. Just to update you — I have decided on a Statue of Liberty graphic for the cocktail table and an Eiffel Tower graphic for the coffee table. I’m experimenting with which method I am going to use to transfer the images. Once they are finished, I will post pics! BTW, Fang has NO idea what I’m up to. No idea!


  5. I paint; I leave color on the ceiling. Been that way for years. When I spiff up to sell one day, I may fix it.


  6. This was so hilarious! I loved the story about you being a tracing prodigy! And boy oh boy…I sure love your table! The lines and color are amazing! Were the other tables side tables? Are you going to have them all match? I don’t know why I’m overly excited about your project.. it’s not like they are going in my living room or anything but for some reason I just love this kind of stuff! Good job on making the move out of Early American Poverty!


    • javaj240 says:

      LOL about your interest in my tables — at least your interest, unlike that of “Old Joe” is positive! I love the lines, too. The color is too “blah”, though. If I can pull it off (I may have overestimated my tracing skills), I am going to do a Statue of Liberty graphic on the side table (there is only one, alas!) and an Eiffel Tower graphic on the coffee table. I experimented with a couple of transfer methods and I really cannot see the lines the chalk left behind, so I may have to do something with Mod Podge instead, but this will require some pretty advanced cutting skills, not to mention sharper scissors than I own. But I am going to do something cool. I’m determined!

      Thank you for your interest. I will be sure to post pics when I am finished!


  7. peachyteachy says:

    Early American Poverty. Love it. As I write, I am surrounded by legos. I had to move them aside in order to find a place to rest my weary foot (I am not up to clearing room for both feet).


    • javaj240 says:

      Oh, thank God the days of tripping over toys are over. Now, it’s shoes, purses, and electronic devices — but at least they’re not those pointy Barbie shoes! I’m glad you found a spot for your tired foot. LOL!


  8. Rick says:

    I’m with Fang about the painting.


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