Pillow Talk

In Rob’s editorial last issue, he spoke of his need to make — literally, make — a couple of beds, and his bewilderment at the number of bed photos depicting piles of pillows. eZine readers had plenty to say about pillows. – Editor

“I believe my wife subscribes to the idea of excessive pillows on our bed. We only use one pillow each when sleeping, and the other four are taken off the bed when we sleep and put back on the bed in the morning when we don’t need them. The dust ruffles are not designed to ruffle the dust, but rather hide the dust and cat hair that collects under the bed.” – Greg

“I’ll bet you ten-to-one odds on a ten dollar bill, that you were not looking at any bed that was strictly a ‘man’s bed.’ All the pillows are a woman’s thing/decorator thing that gives them both an excuse to go shopping for ‘new pillows’ because they just want to ‘change the accents’ in the bedroom. I guess the only consoling factor is that they could ask you to repaint the bedroom every three months instead. I just live with it and say, ‘That’s really nice, Honey!'” – Bernie

“Rob, I read about you making beds and talking about all the pillows on a bed. I used to wonder also and finally found out why. A few years ago, mattress manufacturers started making one-sided mattresses and also putting in a type of foam that would conform to your body and leave an indentation in the mattress. This indentation is permanent. I am a toss and turn type of sleeper and do not lie the same way all the time, and I found that these mattresses and I do not get along. I also found out that when the bed is made and ready for anyone to look at that happens to look in or walk in the bedroom, they can see two indentations in the bed. I think the pictures of all the pillows on a bed is to cover up the indentations left on the mattress. My theory.” – Woody McElroy

“Your ‘Sawdust Snooze Time’ article in the latest WJ eZine was very entertaining, yet at the same time I have come up with some of the same observations. I also believe the Y chromosome is strongly at play. Woodworker’s Journal is a great publication – I have gleaned many things from it over time! Keep up the good work.” – Larry Giust

“You may not want a dust ruffle, but she does; it hides the mongo dust bunnies under the bed (and she won’t send YOU under there to do battle with them if she can’t see them – so you want one too -right?)” – Riley G.

“They are the products of the sick minds of interior decorators and “stagers” inspired by busybodies like Martha Stewart.” – John Walker

Some also talked about making the bed. – Editor

“I’ve built two Murphy beds using the Rockler hardware kit and plans (substantially modified for design purposes). One folds out of the wall on the long axis and one from head to foot. The one that folds out from head to foot, I cut out in my shop and assembled it on-site for a friend in San Antonio. I built a bookcase/bedside combo on each side. The lower part of the cabinet houses the compressor for the sleep number mattress.” – Carey P. Page, M.D.

“Here is an idea. When your guest arrives, tell him/her that they will have to make their own bed. Then hand them a hammer and saw and lead them to the room where the lumber, nails, screws, glue and other supplies are located and say, ‘I’ll be back in a couple of hours, good luck’ and leave. You may be suprised when you come home.” – Don Jennings

And at least one reader shared some actual historical insights about the bed hangings. – Editor

“These accessories date from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, generally, though the hangings do go back considerably further among the wealthier classes. While they were largely meant to show off that their owners could afford to dress their bedrooms with expensive textiles, there were some practical reasons for all the puffery and drapery.

“Bed hangings and canopies on four-poster beds were originally intended to hold in the heat in bedrooms that were heated by a fire that usually died down to embers overnight. This was especially important when there were respiratory diseases in the neighborhood. Most people believed that only fresh night air would chase out the ‘miasmas’ that were believed to be the source of disease, so they also often slept with the window open even in winter. In hot, muggy places, bed hangings were also incidentally good for keeping mosquitoes in check, but their main purpose truly was warmth. Remember, those good folk did not understand about germs, mosquitoes, disease vectors, and so forth.

“Piles of pillows served a related purpose. Many people believed that if they slept prone, they would drown in their body fluids, so they propped themselves up on pillows to about 30 to 45 degrees, if they could afford them. The dust ruffle, on the other hand, is mostly a Victorian conceit. Its purpose was to hide the dust bunnies that would build up under beds before (and, sadly, after) the invention of the vacuum cleaner.

“Shakers, working people, and others without the taste for luxury or the funds to waste on lots of cloth (it was very, very expensive) tended to leave their beds bare except for the tick (mattress stuffed with straw, cornhusk, feathers, marsh grass, and so forth) the sheets,and the coverlet. However, bed hangings were considered necessary enough that even military officers on campaign would often travel with take-down beds that had posts and hangings!

“Why don’t you make yourself a rope bed?” – Louise Heite

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