skinned (or how to thrift a cowhide pillow)

leopard-print cowhide pillow cover, thrifted

Love thrift store prices but not so keen on most secondhand style? Here's how to turn a $3 thrift-store pillow into a $35 pillow you'll adore (though not quite as much as when it was just $3).

secondhand printed cowhide pillow

  1. First, get lucky and happen upon a genuine leopard-print cowhide pillow at your favorite local thrift store for only $3. (What am I missing?, you wonder. I never see secondhand pillows this cool. Too bad I can't hand-wash it.)
  2. Take the pillow cover—cowhide on the front, black wool felt on the back—to your local dry cleaners. 
  3. Endure indirect criticism from the possibly vegan sales clerk: "You got it for next to nothing at the thrift store? Let's hope it's not giraffe."*
  4. Be told it might take several weeks to clean because they have to send leather goods out of state. Estimated cleaning cost: $40.
  5. Wait a few weeks, never receiving a This-is-how-much-the-cleaning-will-cost/Do-you-still-want-to-proceed call as promised.
  6. Return to the dry cleaners post-rare-snowstorm, forking over $32. (At least it wasn't $40.)
  7. Wait a couple more weeks, debating about whether to go ahead and machine-wash-and-dry the feather pillow insert or switch it out since the insert's cover is of thin, cheap-quality cotton, so quills are poking out all over, making the insert look more like a plucked turkey than a pillow.
  8. On laundry day, wash-and-dry the charcoal wool-felt Calvin Klein pillow cover you've had for at least twelve years and never quite liked.
  9. Stuff the old feather pillow back into the clean gray-wool cover.
  10. Slip the gray wool pillow inside the cowhide cover; zip things up.
  11. Prop the new-to-you leopard-print pillow against the $25 secondhand gold velvet chair you'll one day replace, admiring the subtle jolt of both pattern and texture added to your main room.
  12. Ponder how a pillow can cost more than a chair.

printed cowhide pillow, secondhand

*Note: I would never want an animal, let alone a baby animal, let alone a wild or endangered animal, killed to make a pillow or anything else. But since cows are killed for meat, I do use their skins sparingly, mostly as shoes and mostly secondhand. And yes, I do sometimes think about the Nazis turning the human skins of Jews into lampshades.

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