– George Meredith
Hurricane Sandy destroyed the sea wall that fronts Helen’s estate on our little island on Long Island Sound. It also wiped out her lovely white picket fence that edged the wall, strewing its broken pieces, along with massive piles of debris, all over her lawn.
As we surveyed the destruction and tried to plan a way to clean up the mess, we realized that, in fact, whole sections of the fence were actually still intact. As we gathered and bagged the four-foot-high masses of Spartina (cordgrass), reeds, and seaweed, and pulled out the sections of boat docks and people’s decks, the millions of little pieces of Styrofoam, bottles, cans . . . literally anything one could think of . . . we stacked the re-usable sections of the picket fence. Eventually they found their way back into service in the re-built fence.
But there were dozens of broken pickets and two-by-fours that we decided to salvage – there had to be some purpose we could put them to!
After many months, and our move to our new place, with its studio and garage-cum-workshop space, the obvious solution presented itself: the pointed pickets could emulate the cut slats of the seat back of a typical Adirondack chair. We spent a few hours laying out the pattern for the seat back, using pickets that were broken by the storm into appropriate lengths, and saw that the design would work. And there were enough sections of broken-up two-by-four to build the structure of the chair. We used most of the remaining pickets to make the seat and arms. We ground the rough edges and sanded the pieces as is our usual practice, but made sure to leave enough of the white paint on them that they are recognizable as part of Helen’s lovely seaside fence. So, after the, for us, typical 100 hours of work, we have our chair, the latest addition to our Hurricane Sandy Collection.
Photograph ©2015 by Mr. Hellstrom. All rights reserved.
One of our favorite friends is the Toronto-based artist and designer Kathleen Doody. Not only was she the senior designer for the Toronto Star for years, she’s done so many wonderfully creative things, from masks to the pebble mosaics and lighting design featured on her website.
“The ancient art of pebble mosaic uses smooth, water-worn stones, sourced locally or imported from around the world, to create beautiful, durable surfaces for public spaces and private gardens . . . Designs larger than 600mm diameter are built in several pieces that fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. Modern concrete casting methods ensure frost proof installations that are built to last. The upside down construction creates a flat walking surface. Modeled ceramic bas-reliefs can be integrated into the design, adding greater detail and items of particular interest.”
“Lanterns and lamps are very sculptural. The natural beauty of the branches and handmade paper enhance any room, and the flickering light of the candles, or the soft glow of the light, add warmth and charm. Candle-lit, electric and lamp shades are all available in unique models . . .”
This bit of bleached driftwood, part of the roots of some bush or small tree, became for us a stylized “Pekingese,” as if modeled in curvaceous Chinese porcelain. We posed him on a little old plant stand we’d made years before that was weathering to pieces, and there he’s stayed.
Sculpture by Dave and Sharynne Wilder – bleached driftwood, weathered plant stand made of scrap lumber.
Part of our sculpture “Animal Series”
I was looking through some of my old journals the other day, and was amazed to find a sketch for a project that we’d planned in 1976, and never followed through on.
Journal/Notebook, 1975-76, Cover indicating influence of Bacchus in our lives
Right now I’m sitting here in the Dockwood office, pondering the bookshelves we put together for this new abode, using wooden milk crates we’d collected way back then, when we first came to New York City. As readers of this blog are no doubt aware, we were a very poor little family of the “starving artist” variety and had to scrounge for furniture, or build it ourselves. If one took an early-morning walk on the streets of the Upper West Side of Manhattan, or for that matter a very late-night, drunken return from the West End Bar, there were to be found strongly built wooden milk crates left outside the grocery stores, that simply begged to be re-purposed! We collected quite a few of these over our first couple of years here, using them as bases for simple benches made from two-by-twelve planks, or for storage.
When, this summer, we moved into our latest house here on our little island, with its greatly increased space including a studio and garage-cum-workshop, we found that we hadn’t enough bookshelves for all the books we’d collected (previously ensconced in built-in shelving). Loathe to buy lumber to build more shelves, we suddenly thought, “Why don’t we see how many milk crates and fruit boxes we’ve got and use them for shelves?” They were all in use as storage for various art, tools, paint cans, etc., but when we gathered them together we found we had a total of ten!
We came up with a way to stack them on themselves in an staggered, linear-designed way, to increase the total shelf footage, realizing that the weight of the books themselves would hold the whole assembly together, and found we had shelving for about 250 books here in our office. (We’ll photograph it one day soon.)
That was in September. So, as I leafed through my journal from 1975-76, I was a bit appalled to find that I’d sketched this basic idea way back then! And never got around to doing it – for almost 40 years! And never even remembered it. Oh dear.
– Dave Wilder