Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Splitting the Hairs of Perfection

If you have been keeping up with my life and my blog you may have heard about my attempt to build a shed. Since my last post, I have been to an auction where I bought used lumber, only to find out I needed more. I have visited the local big box lumber store and have bought my share of the Sherwood Forest. There is no one to blame but myself and my grandiose ideas of what a “cool” outbuilding should look like…enter my friend who graciously said he would help. I’m sure David was totally unaware of what he was getting into. David has the construction background to make this happen and the artistic sculptural background to make it look cool. I have the space and the need to build plus a secret weapon to make sure the job is completed; a home cooked meal.

One of the only differences between David and I is our version of perfection. As a painter I capture things to represent actuality or at the very least, a mere illusion of it. I have the license to leave details out while highlighting other parts of the painting to make a perfect composition. Close is usually good enough and allows the viewer to complete the image in their mind. With enough information I can create a sense of light, space, and mood. To me five fingers represent a hand…this does not translate so well in construction. As far as I knew, there were three other numbers on a ruler between five and six; five and a medium size line, five and a bigger line and five with a medium line after the bigger line which is all followed by the number six.  These same lines and numbers can be found all the way down the ruler. To a sculptor that combines precision cut steel with carefully aligned holes and screens that attach perfectly to their bolts, lines on a ruler have meaning. To my surprise there are eighths and sixteenths. All along I just thought carpenters had lisps. I was to learn quickly that unlike painting you can’t eyeball it. There are technical terms like a hair; just cut off a hair. These are things so small and fine I didn’t think they mattered. In a painting I wouldn’t paint every single hair.

It is now day three and “we” (I use the term loosely) have the floor in place, four studded walls underneath for a second floor. Up at the house dinner is served; there is enough food to feed an army. My plate is decorated with orange and green vegetables, the charcoal black lines create a diamond pattern on the steak, and my scarlet red wine clings to the glass; it’s a visual delight. Across the table David stacks his carrots and proceeds to cut his steak into eighth inch strips. I’m so happy he will be joining us for dinner next week to finish up my shed.


  1. Jeff - you describe exactly why I realized I was not a carpenter. How do they do it? Good luck with staying on David's good side until the shed is done.

    1. Nancy - Ha! I know. That is why I'm putting more attention on my cooking skills...a little bit of this, a little bit of that.