Hurricane Sandy Adirondack Chair “Helen’s Picket Fence” (2015)


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.