Railroaded and Burned – Part 1

I find it so wearisome – to just – consume – keep buying – more more more.  Yes, there is certainly a convenience to the instant gratification of available solutions.  And those things do have their place in the world.  But honestly, I find so much of that to be blank, mundane, empty.  Disposable?  Yes, easy to let go of things that have less meaning.

Over the past several years, I’ve been indulging my urges to explore things that have scars.  In 2014, I did a piece on Resilience.  I think the concept is fascinating.  Especially when you begin to absorb individual stories and experiences.  I mean, we’ve all been kicked around a bit, right?  Getting back up shows character.  But what does it take to get back up and face the World again?  What does it take to say to Life, “Is THAT all you got?”

Let’s parlay that into repurposing.  A trendy phrase, a time-tested concept.

Things with scars, things with character, they have substance.  They have stories.  They have meaning.  They pull me in with their secrets.  It is invigorating to reimagine old materials in new ways.  And when I can rework something into a useful item – anything from a surface treatment to a full reassembly – oh I could just die of satisfaction!

There is a tiny mudroom between Henry’s kitchen and the screened-in back porch.  Can’t even begin to explain how grimy this space was.  I spent a lot of time cleaning and scrubbing and sterilizing.  And when I was done with that, it was still dingy and it still gave me the creeps to pass through it to enter the house.  What to do… what to do …

Paint it.  Of course.

Standard issue white exterior paint for the walls and window trims.  Soft dove grey for the bead board wainscoting.  Charcoal grey for the porch flooring.

And voila!  Clean.  Crisp.  Gorgeous.

But starkly bare.  And there’s a new chill in the air lately, time for jackets and coats.  I need a coat rack.

Phil McGuinness of NaturesAwesome – you made me so happy!

I found these reclaimed railroad spikes on Etsy.  This guy has his own blacksmith forge in Texas, and he is just amazing.  He bends the spikes by 90º and drills two countersunk mounting holes.  Can you see how each spike has different markings and wear patterns?  Even the lengths vary from one to another.  Love it.

Photo Guy found a good-sized piece of pine in the rafters of the garage, so naturally, we set it on fire.  Because, really, who wouldn’t?

fire 1

fire 2
The fire was fueled by lath strips from a wall we tore out upstairs.
fire 3
Check out that alligator pattern!

Once there was a good scorch on one side, it started to warp quite rapidly.  Photo Guy spritzed the burned side with water, and set the clean side up against the heat.  Once the fire died down, we lay it down flat with some heavy ceramic pottery on top to keep it flat for a couple of days.  Problem solved.

Check Part 2 to see the surface treatment, and the final result!

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