Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Days of commemoration

So, this is it, so far.
My extended leave of absence has been fairly well spent. First of all scrabbling around in the mud to dig a foundation trench for the sculpture that will be sheltered under the roof. Then on Sunday the 17th spending a day with bags of ready mixed cement and gravel to mix and pour concrete into a T shaped shuttering filled with a network of reinforcing bars. While the concrete was curing I made some metal brackets to hold the sculpture on the old mine drill shafts that were driven into the ground to hold it up. On the 23rd my daughter manned the crane controls while I chipped off bits of wood and concrete to mate the sculpture with its base. This was a timely day for ceremony as it marked the 25th anniversary of my marriage to Mrs P.
After more final woodworking and going over all the timbers with the spokeshave to clean them up and remove machine marks I painted on a pale stain/preservative and was ready for the big day on Monday. Rain was forecast, so I left it a day and used that day to do a bit more staining and lift all the timber onto the truck for the big day on Tuesday. I had asked two friends to come along and help out. Sadly the almost volunteer nature of this project meant the best I could do was to offer them a day of work in exchange, but that is the nature of the friend ship. I don't think it would have been possible for the erection to have gone much better. All the measuring and surveying worked out right and the pillars and beams all went up nicely one by one. The helpers seemed genuinely satisfied to be part of the task, which was most appropriate as days like this when parts crafted over several months come together are some of the sweetest.
Even now with all the hobbling of scaffolding there is a very tranquil sense of power about the structure when one is in its vicinity. I hope that will only be gently refined as I work on completing it and then the essential scaffolding can be drawn away. I suppose I could put on the architect hat as I stand back to admire the work and pretend that I fitted in to the category, but certain qualifications are requisite and I don't feel that I was ever suited to sitting exams.
I feel rather vindicated in a belief that architecture without architects does have a place in the world as long as the health and safety men keep clear. It has been a long haul since I started gathering timber back at the beginning of July, but I think I have earned my fodder.
I believe this 26th day of October marks the end of my brother's 50th year on the planet and I can not think of a better tribute on such a day than threading a structure like this into the fabric of the universe.

Friday, October 01, 2010


Falling behind. I have been busy at the job site down the road for the past couple of weeks. A simple set of tasks cladding walls with cedar planks and building a few sets of shelves as well as organizing a little storage area with a weird shape. At the end of last week we had some torrential rain that drew attention to some problems with the roof of the area I was working on, so another job was added to the itinerary. Since then the weather has been poor, so I have redirected back to the larger roof project as I can pop in and out of the house to work under my flysheet as the weather clears or worsens. Feeling a little bit like Noah working among these large timbers. The three timbers spanning the roof are now jointed in giving the catamaran shape here. I have cut the series of 44 curved rafter parts for the roof. The ridge pole was another area completed. I suppose the curvy shapes are part of the reason for the feeling of kinship with the biblical boat builder, the structure of a boat hull would be similar, but inverted of course. The fairly incessant rain is the other major factor.
In the center there is a set of four timbers that will support the purlins and the ridge along with two similar sets at either end. I wanted to see that in place to decide whether to add any decorative features to the end parts. I sense that this need to see things in place is amateurish, but I am always ready to respond to what I have made and playing with ones food can be a source of inspiration. I did find it too much of a waste to classify some of the arc shaped offcuts from the rafters as firewood, but so far in playing with them I can not tell what it is my subconscious wants to use them for.
I found a source for the asphalt shingles I wanted for the roof. That ended up being in Hokkaido. It was cheaper to buy from there than to order from a separate source a couple of prefectures away. The shingles themselves were unfortunately shipped in all the way from America. A far cry from Sammy's experiences on the farm with food leaving a short trail of tiny carbon footprints.