I Made a Chair from Plastic Bags

“The man flies halfway across the country to visit us and what does he want to do with his vacation time? Go to Home Depot to buy seven dollars worth of chair stringing ribbon so he can restring an old lawn chair that I can replace for less than fifteen dollars.”

“Well, I do like the ribbon he picked out.”

“I put that chair in the garage because I intended to send it to the curb on Wednesday. I tried to tell him that, but ‘That chair can be restrung’ he says.” He shakes his head back and forth. “Old man is crazy.”

She watched the man from the window, his grey-hair covered arms moving quickly as they pulled the bright blue ribbon over smooth white metal. A satisfied smile carried up into the wrinkles around his eyes. “Maybe he just doesn’t like to think that things become obsolete just because they get old.”

“Umm. . . Still crazy though.”

“Yeah. A bit.”

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Everyday for the past seven or eight months, she passed the decaying lawn chair as she entered and left her home. He set there by the door. She had told herself that by placing this object that needed obvious care in the path of her daily life, she would care for him sooner than later.

In Japan folklore, there exist spirits or creatures called Yokai. Some yokai are your old possessions that become animated. After much time passes, they become alive. Therefore, do not treat your possessions badly. They can come back for revenge.

Surely that chair would become one pissed off Yokai if she did not do something soon.


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In November of 2013, I made a giant ball of braided plastic bag rope. It was not my first giant-ball-of creation. I also had a giant-ball-of-foam-tape at work (which we decorated for the holidays) and I also made the holidays more festive with my giant-ball-of-Christmas-lights (which becomes dangerously hot if left plugged in too long). This was a nice addition to my collection.

I was proud to show off my giant-ball-of-braided-plastic-bags. I would ask people what they thought I should do with the interesting material. I got a lot of good feedback, but I never did anything with the material. I was happy to keep the colorful ball in my living room to serve as a ‘conversation piece’.

With the more recent addition of a toddler to our home, the ‘conversation piece’ became a constant chore since I had to reroll ball each time the little girl discovered the location I had most recently hidden said object from her view. I found myself carrying the giant-ball where it would be completely out of her site. As I placed the ball upon a doily in the center of the basement shelf, I felt sorry for it. Despite giving it a place of predominance in this space, the possession who had once entertained many guests in our home had been relegated to a part of the house that few ever visited.

That’s one hell of a demotion. When she reaches Yokai age, she’s probably going to team up with the lawn chair to bring about my demise.

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Kate : I think it’s about a two evening project. I can have it done by Thursday.

Mel: I think that it’s going to be more work than you anticipate.

Kate: Nah. It’s just an easy over-under weave design. I saw this old guy do it in an afternoon once.

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Woman 1: That’s going to be sharp when your done with it.

Woman 2: Thanks.

Woman 1: Mel tells me that it’s turned out to be a lot more work that you thought.

Woman 2: I keep having to redo it. Really steep learning curve. I start stringing the thing only to realize that it doesn’t look right. Then I have to undo everything and string it differently to get it spaced out just right. In fact, it’s still not right. I plan to take the whole thing apart and redo it again tonight.

Woman 1: What’s wrong with it?

Woman 2: Look at it. It’s not right on the top.

Woman 1: (Nodding her head slowly up and down.) O.K. . . I personally don’t see what you are talking about, but I guess it’s true.

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After her many days of work, her toddler approached and ran a small hand over the woven plastic rope. “You did it! Moma made a chair!”

Yes, I did. The yokai are appeased . . . for now.


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Interesting side note:

Someone sent me this photo a few years ago. She found this item in the office of a man who essentially holds what would be my job in that distant city.

I am not sure what this says, but I am sure that it says a lot of something.

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