Tuesday, September 29, 2009


or, "Please approach the bench"
or, "Benchmark"
or, "How much ya bench?"
or, "Pepe le pew"

okay, not so much the last one.

It all began with a sketch.It wasn't a good sketch, but Cor and Sloan and I had been talking about a bench all day, and it was the sort of thing you just want to get started on. We were walking around Point Pleasant, and I was babbling about arm-rests and shelves and supports. The ladies were less enthusiastic, but they were generally happy to, y'know, have something done for them.

A half-dozen blueprints later, I was ready to build a bench. Out of posterboard.
The neurotic engineer in me needed to see the finished product before committing, plus it helped me picture how the boards would need to be joined (which, somehow, is not the same as joinery).

I read magazines on furniture design. I found DIY websites. I planned every detail.

And of course, I messed up. Often. While it might be fun to catalog my many slip-ups, of which there were a wide variety, it is better to point out the improvisations those accidents allowed. Mis-measured the bench? Well that support beam would supplement it nicely. And so on.

So the design changed, and the novelty of the thing increased with each audible. Aesthetic flair was the unintended byproduct of my mistakes. A simple plank with a decorative board at each end became a suspended shelf that highlighted negative space, somehow. Which I was okay with, and was actually totally on purpose, I swear.

I think it works pretty well. The paint scheme is unusual, too; my clients were going for a "beach-worn" look, like the weathered whitewash so common on the beaches of Pt. Pleasant. They described their ideal coloration, and I did my best to meet their expectations. But let's be reasonable: they were trying to verbalize an unusual look, normally produced by decades of weather exposure, to an inexperienced "craftsman". Who also happens to be colorblind.

What were they expecting?

As I've said, I'm happy with the way it turned out. Not the least of which is based on the fact that it's still intact! To wit:

If it can handle these two fatasses (one of whom seems to be perplexed by a bottle of Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA), it can handle anyone.

I said before that it started with a sketch. That's not true. It started with a Pinewood Derby car, in the spring of 1991. For which, you know who you are, and thank you.

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