Tuesday, May 14, 2024

It takes a village, or at least a good friend....

You may have heard me speak about Lighthouse Charities - a local non profit that supports immigrants coming to our country. They provide so many services and opportunities, it makes my head spin! 

Seriously, the work they do there for their clients is stunning, and they've just broadened their scope to include a local garden. They'll be able to grow fruit and vegetables for their clients, along with giving them meaningful agricultural opportunities. So when they asked me if I could build the top roof for this wishing well for their butterfly garden, I took a drive there to get some measurements. 

This area is named Maggie's garden, in honor of the non-profit founder's granddaughter. Maggie was born with a condition that didn't leave a lot of hope for her health. But she's defied the odds!

The wishing well isn't huge - less than four feet in diameter. 

The measurements I took let me do some geometry, which I love. 

(Thanks Miss Gibson!) 

Once I had a solid idea of what to build, I called a buddy for help. This is one of those projects that is better with two people, rather than one. And Dennis offered his shop and skill to complete this. 


We started with the skirting, since that was the one dimension that we had to stick to... and this hexagon was way to big for a strap clamp to told it together. That's when Dennis went "old school" and pulled out his spring clamps. You just don't see many craftsmen who own these, let along actually use them! But they're invaluable for clamping off shapes - like crown molding corners, or... well... a project like this!

I was really trying to keep this within budget, since building material prices are through the roof! (No pun intended!) So we needed a short piece of 4x6 for that center column, where all the rafters are attached. Sure enough, Dennis happened to see a short piece of scrap near a construction site and that saved us from having to buy a timber. 

Weird how that works out sometimes! We sheathed it with some exterior plywood - and then started laying cedar shingles. 

Wow - have the prices for these shingles skyrocketed!  

If I remember Carpentry 101 from back in my union days, a square of shingles will cover about 100 square feet. And there are 3 bundles in each square. So a bundle - in theory - will cover around 33 square feet.  One bundle would do!

It took a minute to track down a roofing supply house that sold these cedar shingles - and I almost had a coronary when I heard the pricing. Even then - there are different grades of these, and for budgetary reasons - I chose the cheapest grade.  

We even ran a bit short and had to make do with one or two shingles that we fabricated out of some leftover cedar boards. 

When we finished - Dennis (always the artisan!) decided the roof needed a finial, so he popped a piece of wood in his lathe and turned one in about 15 minutes.

And finally - the piece was complete! 

It's always tricky doing field measurements and then building something off site, but luckily - when I brought the piece over to the garden - it fit perfectly! I love everything about making pieces like this - the spirit of helping a nonprofit, the collaboration with another artist, and the thought that this wishing well will be here for many years, in the middle of Maggie's butterfly garden. 

One last piece I'll be making is a small bucket for the wishing well.... stay tuned!


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