INCESTUOUS WINDOWS

Where should we start?  The very big ideas?  OK.

Artists do not only make art, they live it and in it.  Serious art reflects the ideas, attitudes, experiences and style of the artist.  These things are interwoven and inseparable.  And changeable, but usually the change is slow.  At least that is how it works for me.

Premise 1 in the creating of a style:  Being an artist(s) we don’t have the money that more traditionally employed people do.  We habit the thrift shops and flea markets, looking for shapes and textures and things to repurpose to live in our home.  We sniff out free things in the wind.  We develop friendships with like people and fund each other’s eccentricities.  Old things look good to us.

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To me, the base of this enamel table in our kitchen is awesome.  The lines and shapes scream the 1930s.  This table base helped me solve a financial problem in buying the tile for the kitchen, if you will notice the floor.  I bought the majority of the tile at a sidewalk sale at Lowe’s, but there was not enough for the big space of kitchen and great room.  So I laid tile “rugs” in each room, one under this table.  The tile under the table is lighter than the surrounding, and at each corner of the rug is a corresponding black tile (you can only see two black tiles in this image).  The rug tile was free, and the problem was solved.  The four black squares used in the corners integrate the tile rug with the table base.  The rug under the table is much more interesting than had the floor simply been one broad ecru plane.  So my finances dictate another way to create, and push a style forward with lifestyle needs.

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We needed a shed to house our pool equipment, pool pump, and machinery related to our sprinkler system.  My love of cheap metal (notice the lamp on the stucco column) led us to buying a used grain bin to satisfy these needs, and it was very inexpensive.  We love the little silo that has an apex that looks like the top of a Coke bottle.

Premise 2:  We live in a world that is using up all its natural resources.  This disposable society cannot thrive.  Many, many artists choose to make their work out of waste materials because they are available, are beautiful and otherwise would be in the landfill.  These artists additionally are making visual statements that describe our recent decades.

We built a barn.  Before this time, some restlessness inside of me accepted a whole group of wooden windows from a contractor friend who was doing odd jobs here.  I put them under a roof.  His work often was replacing old wooden windows with vinyl ones, and he kept bringing me the rejects.  He would have been charged to put them in the dump, so the solution was good for everybody.


1-IMG_0011We used 33 old windows for this barn, and saved a lot of money.  Their glass is wavy and beautiful, and since this is studio and storage space and not living space, they do the job here just fine.  And of course, this is South Carolina and we live in a moderate part of the world.  Glenn later added the cool awning above the entry door.

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I hope the case is made for the using of old stuff.  Here is where the incest starts.

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My daughter Brady, (who blogs for Lexington County, South Carolina at Everywomanblog.com and has a cooking blog at brannyboilsover.com) influenced by my love of old things, found this door of windows at the dump and brought it home.  Neither one of us are beyond “diving”.  She often donates at the Goodwill at the same time she goes in to buy.  She installed this on the wall,  and of course there it was for me to see.  A window on a wall as art.  Hmmm.

Some years later, here is my sculptural work.  Before now, the windows had many other incarnations as I tried to use them.  I was getting too fancy.  For me, for now, it is mostly about the interplay of the windows, and bringing these sculptures way out from the wall.  It takes some time to feel one’s way.

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Isn’t experience and influence wonderful?

SCORE!

I paid more for this group from my local flea market than any other old glider and chairs.  Still it wasn’t near the prices on the web, or our nearest big city, Atlanta.

This glider has been on the front porch for years.  This and the new one were made by the same manufacturer but feature different patterns.  The gliding devices are  identical, and the heaviness of the metal used is greater than other gliders we have here.  On the edges of the arms of these gliders the metal has been folded against itself to make them much stronger.

The whole group of four was in such good shape.  Lately I have been rising to a new consciousness about these rusty surfaces.  Was it only last weekend when we found three chairs in a dumpster?

This chair is finished now, and waiting for clear coat.  Did some research yesterday, and am going to put auto body clear coat on this (and all of them, if it works) to preserve the colors and lines.  A couple days ago we realized this chair is aluminum, save for the tubing.  This is the only aluminum example we have.

Because of my newthink we hauled the group into the greenhouse which is not used for much during the summer.  Some of the rust on the  back sides of these chairs is deep.  That will be scraped off, and the rest preserved.


The support elements for the glider body have been replaced on this one, as the picture reveals.  These must be the weak link in this style.  Years ago when finding the one now on my front porch (at the “solid waste disposal site” as we call them in South Carolina) of course it was free, but had to pay 25.00 to a local welder to fabricate one gliding element.  Still a heck of a deal!

CRAYON METAL LAWN CHAIR

This chair is proving to have amazingly strong bones once the excess paint has been removed to reveal its more subtle painted history.

Most of the rust on the bent tubular legs was very superficial.  It could be brushed or shaved off with the rest of the excess paint.  If this area is going to be weak, it will be at the stress points for the tube, where it bends, or where it is attached to the body of the chair.

All four connections to the body of the chair have rust like this.  It is heavier than anywhere else, but not so bad as to effect the strength or the structure.  I want to separate the two pieces so a protective layer of poly can be applied.

How to do this?  My resident expert says that one would use two pairs of vice grips, and usually the rusty nut and bolt will break.  This is what you want.  Then you can clean up the rust and insert a new nut and bolt.

Above is an example of weakening steel to the point of breakage.  More than once one of us has slowly floated ground-ward as weakening chairs finally bit the dust.

Above is a different chair that has been repaired.  My husband used a high speed wire brush on an angle grinder to clean out all the weak rusty areas.  With an oxy-acetylene welder, he took replacement steel in a flat sheet, and welded the new into place.  He said that the act of using the welder will identify and destroy more of the rust not seen before.  The heat of the welding will help you curve the plane of steel into the necessary tube shape.  The final step is to apply something like Rustoleum to the new section to assure that what happened in the weather before will not happen again.

And remember those holes.  I am going to add some to all my chairs that don’t have them.  Water is the enemy!

KEEPING MY GLIDER AESTHETIC

Having found three metal lawn chairs in a dumpster last weekend, a new problem has been presented.  Most of my chairs are rusty and show their history, and I like it that way.

These recent “finds” are different from my norm.  The paint, especially the last green layer is incredibly thick.  What lies underneath the thick peeling paint is rust in some cases.  Working on the chair on the right, which is in the best shape of the group, it has a composition on the back unlike any that we have.  Three holes were uncovered on the seat.  They are very important for the life of the chair,  and had been painted over many times.  These chairs, living outside, need ammunition to battle water and rust.

Pictured above is a typical chair in our collection—it is in good shape, the paint is nicely weathered, but not peeling in any way.  If there is rust, it is superficial.

When thinking about the three new chairs, images from the web reminded me that another solution for the surface was necessary other than a flat paint job that some consider restoration.

These are fine chairs and have not been restored, but they are in such good shape that in my opinion the flat paint is kind of cartoonish.  Nothing so old would look like this now.  It is as if they are steel maidens looking down at life from the tower.

With my three new chairs, something had to be done or they would be rust piles in a year.  Below is what I am in the process of doing.

I am scraping and revealing all the colors that the chair has been, six, it looks like.  I started with my fingers peeling the paint, and then got serious with a tool (one for wood, as it turns out, a chisel), and made lines in the layers of paint all the way down to the shiny steel.

I love the lines.  The chair looks like a drawing or painting of a chair.  I can see, as more of this is done, that one could actually tailor the lines used to remove the excess paint actually to describe the metal patterning on the back of the chair.  That would certainly unite form and surface.  That is what I will do.

There are four rust spots where the tubes connect to the chair body that have to be taken care of .  Then an application of a clear coat will be in order.  I will post when finished.

DUMPSTER DIVING

First time I ever did this was with my friend Betsy;  we were looking for tile in a dumpster outside a commercial tile establishment.  Cannot remember if we asked permission or not.  Maybe it was a Saturday, and they were closed.  As it turns out, much of what was gleaned was very usable and important in my house renovation and to this day is still being used.  Marble that I have used for thresholds, counter tops and window sills came from this source.  In addition, the tile store had ground some of the excess marble from a job into about half inch sized chunks and put it in the beds around the building where they had bushes.  Trying to create a new market, I guess.

Anyway we filled our cars (or my car), it was amazingly hot, and we were amazingly dirty, but it did not stop us from going down the road and having a big lunch at Ruby Tuesday’s.  What the hell.

Yesterday morning my friend Catherine sent me a text saying that there were three old metal lawn chairs in a dumpster in her neighborhood.  She lives about 45 minutes away from here, but we were already at the flea market which is 15 minutes closer.  We decided to skip the cheap stuff and go for the free stuff.  It was so easy, and the new vistas were very refreshing.  She lives in the horse country of SC where the fences and the live oaks are so beautiful.

Glenn hauls himself in.  It is very clean thank goodness and has not rained in the past couple of days, which is unusual for this summer.  Along with the chairs, a waffled mattress pad was in there to be used to transport them!  Love it when that happens.

Gold!  We found three in this dumpster.  They are in average shape, but have been thickly painted over and over.  The paint is peeling off in large dense chunks.  They will not subscribe to my theory that objects should show their history.  These are going to have to be cleaned up as anyone using them would ruin their clothes.

We also picked up some old dinette chairs that the same friend wanted to pitch.  They were in much better shape than imagined.

Spent an hour or so with a toothbrush and improved the chairs mightily.  Will do the same with chrome polish, the kind we used to use on rusty bike wheels, and move further towards perfection!

BEFORE AND AFTER

In these dog days, reality around here felt like one of those stress dreams where you cannot get your legs to work, or you keep trying to fit through openings that are too small for you.  Things were moving slowly in construction, my art, and the pool deck.

Painting has been going on, as you can see from the images above.  And I have stuccoed the cinder block foundation wall in the last two days.  One hand is nearing twice as big as the other now.

But two men arrived ten minutes ago, and the interior floor of the new master bedroom is being laid!  We had a short discussion about the threshold, and came to a quick agreement.  Having tons of marble recovered through dumpster diving years ago, we will make a pieced, in sections of eighteen inches, threshold stretching the length of the french doors between the main house and the new master.   This marble has been used in the main house as thresholds between rooms, as fancier windowsills, installed on top of the wooden ones, and (more interested in aesthetics than cooking) as my kitchen counter tops.

Between the great room and the dining room in the 1939 big house,  I needed to piece together marble to fit the vacant space left by removing a wall.  The marble was found in 18 inch lengths.  You can see this length also in my counter top.

A wider eighteen inch length was set up the wall under one of the kitchen windows and three courses around the stove, here to the right.  In the foreground is a fancy hammered aluminum coffee pot with its original cord.  Crazy about those old cords!  Behind that is an old mixer.

Above are the marble lengths used as window sills in the laundry room with part of an old iron collection poised for use.