“Sorry, we don’t rent hats. We are ‘Anything But Costumes’.”

The tone of voice on the other end of the line turns angry…. “I didn’t think you meant that literally!” Click….. the angry voice becomes silent and we return to our work. It amazes us how many people call us looking to rent costumes. Perhaps if Linda had named her company “Anything But Props” people wouldn’t be confused and angry when we tell them we rent props, not costumes.

At the end of their project, film crews are notorious for unloading all their left-overs along with our props, hoping we will save them a trip to the dump. Sometime we get lucky and fill more of our weight-burdened shelves with unique clocks, hideous lamps, outrageous lamp shades, shag rugs, broken teapots and other odds and ends that set designers from the extended tri-state area adore and pay good money to rent.

Rarely does something come along that Linda rejects. Fortunately for me, these loom reeds fell into the abyss of the unrentable and ended up in my car. Now they hang on the wall of my studio tempting me and teasing me to abandon the miserable job of framing the five pastels I have completed for the upcoming annual “Spring in Bloom” exhibit at Solaris Gallery in Califon.

It’s a real toss up between the loom reeds and the wooden bowl & billiard ball. I can feel the series of pencil drawing and paintings already beginning the trek toward manifestation.

I’m sad that the prop shop must find a new home. I love the smell of the barns and the way the light plays on the buildings. I love the sound of our footsteps on the wooden floors. It’s frightfully cold in the winter and blisteringly hot in the summer. We haven’t any running water, unless you count the constant leaking of the roof. I would rather be in touch with the weather, both foul and fair, than to be inside of a windowless warehouse all day long, oblivious to the changes of the light, the sounds and the smells of the day. I will adapt, as I always do.

Regardless of the location, the props will continue to inspire me. Props are used to create illusions, to define character, location and time. Last week a press back chair was brought back to us after having been repaired. The man who had repaired the chair, one of a set of two, thought he would do us a favor by giving it a fresh coat of paint. He had no idea that the fresh coat of paint has now made a chair that was rented constantly into one that will hardly rent at all. Its mate will continue to rent because it still shows its character and its history. I am reminded that the wrinkles in my face and the silver streaks in my hair define more clearly the joys of my life.

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