Tiling Columns ~ Three Down, Two To Go

The three front columns are done. We are happy with the way they turned out; natural, earthy, significantly-sized to go with the house but not¬†ostentatious. We’ve started thinking about light fixtures on the gate columns, but nothing yet design-wise. The gate still needs a couple coats of house-trim-color paint. Here are the columns all grouted and cleaned and the construction junk all picked up:

Remember those plant pot pieces that we poured about six weeks ago?

We hauled them out of the container and have started assembling them on top of the knee wall in the carport. My plan of using screws and plastic anchors failed miserably; the concrete cracked and split when the screws expanded the anchors; there just wasn’t enough concrete mass to contain the anchors. Plan B is to make bolts that go through the pots, a washer and nut on each side of the pot. I bought some threaded rod and am welding pieces of the rod to either end of a piece of rebar. Labor intensive but cheaper than using all threaded rod. In the next photo I have yet to drill holes and install the bolts. Can’t wait to see bamboo growing in the pots:

Today I started tiling the first of the two carport flying buttress columns:

I was stymied for a while as to what to do with the narrow sides of the columns. They are about a tile and a half wide. I wasn’t happy with my first thought of a full tile and a half tile, alternating up the wall. It didn’t fit with the stacked look of all the other tile work. After a few nights of dreaming on the subject, I decided to cut tiles in half and use all half tiles. I think it is well proportioned and looks great. Reminds me of subway tiles:

I’ve drilled holes for the plant pot bolts and have a couple bolts in place. Only sixteen more to weld and install…

Armando has been busy working on the window frames and security bars, grinding welds smooth and painting the first coat of primer. No photo, but all the windows for container 4 are now ready for us to install when weather permits. He also prime painted all the un-primed welds under the carport roof.

So bit by bit, we are getting a lot of the unfinished projects checked off the list. Next month I plan to work on Cynthia’s studio spaces so she can move her seed beads, hot-glass bead making, and sewing supplies to their new homes.

The next photo shows a slab next to my shop. This will be her hot glass studio. It is 5’x13′, large enough for her bench, kiln, oxygen and propane tanks, and glass rod storage. I’ll build walls at the outside of the slab.

She sure is looking forward to being able to work in studios that aren’t termite and spider infested like her current studios. And she won’t miss the gecko that lives (and poops) directly above her torch, nor the high-pitched whining roar of the dozens of two-stroke motorcycles that scream past our current house, only eight feet from her glass bead making studio.

That’s all for now.




Sliding Home: The Front Gate Ready To Roll

The front gate is rolling on its track. I am extremely happy with it as it looks just as I had envisioned it. Although there are more than 300 weld points, the whole gate has the minimalist feel that I wanted. A few people have seen it so far and easily identified the design as cat tails.

This was a fun project even if the welding, grinding, sanding, and painting was quite tedious. I spent a lot of time stepping back, looking at the progress and planning my next move. Actually, I had to plan three or four moves in advance, as in a game of chess, so that I didn’t end up with overlaps, gaps, or clutter that didn’t make sense in the design.

Although I was replicating a wild grass, I wanted order to the design, so I worked from the center out to both sides, fabricating two of every stalk. The left and right sides from center are mirror images.

Assembly: The frame of the gate is made of 2″ x 2″ x 1/16″ square tubing. The two square tubes at the bottom formed a beam once the stalks were all welded in place; the gate doesn’t sag at all. I drilled 1/2″ holes in the beam for the stalks to pass through.¬† The stalks of the plants are 1/2″ round stock. The seed pods at the ends of the stalks are made from black pipe; half-inch pipe fit well over the round stock but wasn’t fat enough for a seed pod, so I cut lengths of 3/4″ pipe, too. I pounded the smaller pipe into the larger pipe then welded the pipe assembly to the stalks. After I cleaned up all the weld points with the grinder, I applied body filler (Bondo) to most of the joints and the tops and bottoms of the seed pods. Then I sanded the body filler smooth. I topped everything off with two coats of red oxide primer followed by one coat of dark gray. This color may or may not change in the future; we’ll have to see what color the containers end up being painted.

Armando and I were working on the job, and I rounded up two other local workers to help us move the gate from container 3 to its place on the angle iron track. Although the design is very “airy,” this is one heavy gate. I think a gate opener is in order; I can slide the gate but Cynthia pushed on it as hard as she could but it was as if it was welded to the ground.

Here are some photos. Remember, click a photo to make it larger, click the back button to return.

Fabrication underway.

Here is the gate all welded and welds ground out, ready for body filler. I think the design is graceful and has a hint of art nouveau.

Looking out, you don’t feel like you are in a garrison. There is a hint of a family crest in the center of the gate.

Dog tired but happy. The curved stalks are strategically placed so as to strengthen the vertical stalks.

I welded this bracket from metal 2x4s. The wheels guide the gate as it opens and closes. Remember, there will be a concrete hat on top of the columns.

Next, I think I will take some pictures of a small model that I built showing the new and improved one-story design of the house. I’ll post them so you can see the new plan.

That’s all for now.

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