What do Shellac and Age Have in Common?

While living in North Dakota years ago I was amazed at the societal standard of tidiness among the folks with Scandinavian and German background. Lots of Norwegians up there. And some pretty funny Ole and Lena jokes, but that’s a story for another time. This was a very different way of life than I’d grown up with here in the sunny Southwest. I missed the more relaxed atmosphere of New Mexico. But—those northerners sure got things like road work and construction done in a hurry with harsh winters breathing down their necks.


A friend spoke of how her Scandinavian grandmother used to take the furniture out of the house every spring. Yes, all the furniture. Then, they’d get buckets of shellac and big sticky brushes and re-coat every last piece in the front yard. When my friend inherited the lovely old furniture it had decades of shellac on it –she was pretty sure it was holding everything together.


Someone asked the other day if it was possible to shellac her face for the preservation qualities.  Hah! No, don’t do that— age and wrinkles, grey hair are all part of the masterpiece. 


Spring cleaning led to thoughts of art and what makes something beautiful. Recently I saw a photo and short essay on this subject that was so profound I’ve not been able to stop thinking about it. I’ve been unable to find it again but the gist of it is:


Written beneath a photograph of a beautiful young woman in her early 20’s is a challenge to the viewer to look at the human body as a blank canvas. When you see a baby, its skin is perfect and beautiful, a blank canvas. It is the living of life, the wonderful ordinary daily, the hardship, the joy and tears that create a one of a kind masterpiece on that human canvas.

No two works of art or human beings are alike and each tells a story.



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