Sunday, April 25, 2010

Secrets Revealed

You know have an ideal scenario in your mind, like, say, that you have purchased a well loved trailer from a sweet couple in need of assistance at a bad time in life.  And you think... what a lovely job they did on the trailer, so much love put into every stitch and paint brush stroke.  Then the guru peels away the layers (literally) and you start finding strange anomalies that lead to questions like...why the foil on the insulation, why the extra ventilation, why the mould and why the extreme amount of electrical wiring and plugs for such a small space???

Theory to these questions - a grow op!  Yes, the theory that has arisen is that our sweet Tilley was once a grow op.  For those innocent souls who have never heard this term it simply means an operation set up for the growing of marijuana.  You can find more information here  and here  I also found that we are not alone in our little Boler having a shady past

Now we have no idea if the owners before us possibly used Tilley in such a manner or perhaps the people before them.  The owners before us certainly may have bought Tilley with the insulation and wiring already in place and thought "Hey!  Extra goodies included in the price, how nice."......just like we did.

Luckily our guru is a gentleman of many talents and has already removed the foiled insulation and the mould and will be removing the excess electrical wiring before recovering the interior. 

Which brings me to some good news not involving illegal substances - the material he ordered to redo Tilley's interior has arrived!  We should have her back within a week or two!  She will be dressed and ready for the first of the steampunk accessories we have waiting for her....and you can be sure there will be no plants of any nature within, just myself and my mechanic. 

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Extreme Stovetop Makeover

When we first went to see Tilley, although we were all dewy eyed and in love with her, we noticed she was looking a little rough around the edges, showing her age, like an weary courtesan early the morning after a rough working weekend.

One of the reasons for this was her stovetop.  Tilley still has her original stovetop and the previous owners had painted it white...but not very well...the paint was peeling and we could easily pick it off with a finger nail.  But no worries, we have found that, with all the old things we own, the previous owners never gave them the attention and respect they deserved and would do a slap dash job of any repair or "beautification".  We have many times had to scrape back the debris to find the diamond in the rough and do the hard work of making it shine.  You could say we are old hats at restoration.  So the scraping began....

Does the poor thing not look sad and begging to be saved from it's peeling, caked on makeup.

Pat and I took turns first using a wire wheel on the drill and then a scraper, then some steel wool and finally some light sandpaper to smooth it.  We, as well as the picnic table, were covered in white flecks of paint. 

Finally clean and ready for phase two. 

We had decided not to use just your regular heat resistant barbeque paint (it is only available in boring black, white or silver) but to use engine paint.  It comes in a rainbow of colours!  We bought antique gold and charcoal.  After four light coats of the gold, I layered in some charcoal to age it....and here is the result

The photo is a little bright so it is hard to appreciate the aged look, but it will look wonderful when finally part of our steampunk decor.

Thursday, April 15, 2010


We are still waiting anxiously for our friend Brad to finish Tilley's interior.  All we know is that he has ideas in place and surprises in store for us.  To me it really feels like being pregnant again.  Not the big, heavy, bloated, sore, breathless, crabby feeling one has, but that anxious, waiting to meet your new baby and see what they look like feeling.  Do they have all their fingers and toes, do they have hair, are they adorable.

Inevitably ever woman, and very often the father as well, will have a nightmare or two about the birth.  The baby is a giant, or comes out being 40 years old, or has three arms.  You get the picture....and it isn't pretty.

Well I had one of those about Tilley.  I dreamt that we finally go to pick up Tilley.  Brad is very excited to show us what he has done so I quickly enter and what do I see.....all the walls, the ceiling, everywhere is covered in vinyl with a pattern of hamburgers, hotdogs and french fries.  ACK !!   I said something in the dream like "what the...we wanted a gentlemen's club" and Brad says "I thought you meant like a sports bar".

(insert deep breath here)

I know Brad won't do this.  He's a smart and talented person. But if I see even one hamburger anywhere near the trailer when we get there I may just turn and run.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

My Precious

Vesta Tilley (we have been calling her Tilley - quicker/nickname) has now been out at the guru's place in the country for one week.  He has not only torn out all the peeling vinyl, but also all the strange bubble wrap as well.  Thank goodness for his thoroughness - he found leaks.  Lucky for us it has been raining here recently and he found exactly where they are....and he is going to fix them for us.  He is a man of many talents.  We love him!

While Tilley has been in his care, we went to a place of great evil.  A place of great temptation.  A place of many many pretties..... Lee Valley Tools.   We are very lucky that we live in the same town as the main and original store and yet unlucky because we are not millionaires and able to buy everything that they sell...oh can dream.

Tilley originally came with wooden knobs on every cupboard and drawer door. Blah!  It's not that we don't adore wood, but for knobs there are so many fantastic options.  We picked up some new ones that reflect our style a little better.

Luckily for us we were buying with a generous gift card we received at Christmas, and had been saving knowing that we were going to buy a trailer this year and that we would be doing a steampunk interior.  After picking our lovely handles and knobs we also found two 'necessities' that will be added when the interior is finished.

Although we made a very good dent in our gift card, we still have a little for future pretties.  There was an old style barometer and a wonderful small clock that need a good home....

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

A little light music.

As befits an entertainer of Miss (or is it Master?) Tilley's renown, a number of her performances were captured on Edison wax  cylinders. A number of these have been cut to mp3 and made available  to the public by the University of California, Santa Barbara under a Creative Commons license:

Vesta Tilley - Wax cylinder recordings


Sunday, April 4, 2010

Off to See the Wizard

There is a lot Pat and I can do, but vehicle upholstery is not one of them.  Of course I am sure we could do it if we had the time and patience, and desire, to learn...but we don't.  We have the funds and the resource to have a professional do it for us and that makes us very happy.

What we can and did do was strip the interior of it's cushions, curtains and covers so that our upholsterer could get to the issues that need to be remedied...such as these

The vinyl that the previous owner put in has come off at the seams.  In some places it must have been hanging and they cut it off.  There is insulation underneath, but it is covered in a tacky glue. 

The other issue is the colour.  Cream of Wheat is NOT my favourite colour.  It is neither cozy nor chic.  The plan is for the decor to have the look of a gentlemen's club, so it needs colour and warmth and it needs to be POSH...Cream of Wheat...not so posh.

Our upholstery wizard / guru is our old friend Brad MacDonald.  He has been doing upholstery for many years and he is also an artisan and a steampunk at heart.  He knows and understands steampunk and he knows us well.  We have given him our colour preferences and given him carte blanche to work his upholstery magic on the interior of Vesta Tilley.

The results promise to be extraordinary and marvelous!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

What's In a Name

What do you name a boler when you plan to steampunk it and make it a haven of sumptuous elegance.  When it is to be our home on wheels, an escape pod, an adult retreat.  A special place for both husband and wife, man and woman, Countessa and mechanic.

My feeling at first sight was that the trailer was a she, perhaps because of the shape, all round and smooth - just a feeling.  One would think logically a woman's name would be appropriate.  But then we found out that the inventor, a Canadian by the name of Ray Olecko, had called it a boler because he thought it looked like a bowler hat. Now Pat was all for giving it a more manly moniker.  Now I was conflicted.  I had a feeling, but you learn in a long term relationship to compromise.

After much thought, and back and forth deliberation between us, I had a eureka moment.  What about naming it "The Gentlemen's Club" or after a real gentlemen's club, but with one provision.  It had to be a gentlemen's club that allowed women.  I know, quite a big order, but I had to investigate.

There is a lot of online information on past and current gentlemen's clubs.  Wikipedia was a tremendous resource of naming possibilities.  The best part was the lists they have set up.  I specifically looked at this one - List of London's gentlemen's clubs  It was wonderful for showing "women admitted as full members since".  Of course, the results were as one would expect, not very promising, or the name of the club that allowed women was one I didn't like.

Then I found a name and club that both Pat and I liked -  "The Eccentric Club".  They began allowing women in 1984, recent yes, but still they were allowing women.  So I decided to look more closely into the details of the club.  The club itself has been around for a very long time, 1781 to be exact.  It has had many incarnations and opened and closed a number of times over the centuries, most recently relaunching in 2008.  It is a firmly planted British establishment for creative thinkers - from the website  :

"for centuries it served as a meeting point for many great and original minds, pioneers of thought in artistic, literary, theatrical, scientific, legal and political circles, providing an amicable environment for their recreational and creative pastime as well as a testing ground for novel and controversial theories and approaches to the issues equally important to British society and all of the mankind" 

I thought - this is it.  Or so I thought....but then I noticed a page link "Are we Gentlemen-Only ?" Of course I had to examine this further before committing ourselves to naming our new home after this club.  What I found amazed and astounded me!

According to this page, women were only officially recognized as members with the relaunching in 2008.  However, during the Victorian period there was one, only one, woman who was unofficially allowed as a member in their hallowed halls.  Her name was Matilda Alice Powles.  The reason she was allowed - she would go dressed as a man.

Matilda Powles (stage name - Vesta Tilley) was a famous male impersonator and music hall singer.  She was very well known and well loved.

Her life is amazing for the period in which she lived.  She had a career, money, she married the man she loved and she even became a Lady.  She died in 1952 at the ripe old age of 88.

I was stunned, and as must be obvious by now, enthralled by her.  She represented men and women with grace, dignity, style and a little quirkiness. 

Needless to say you can guess at the name of our new home..... Vesta Tilley