Sometimes I spend so much time laboring on a job that visiting the installed material can feel like a reunion with an old friend (or “frenemy” depending on how much stress the project imposed upon my life). That’s how I felt last week, when on a brief trip to Chicago, I was able to squeeze in a quick visit to an old bleacher project that consumed my summer of 2012.
As you can see, the installation looks quite handsome (no we did not make the sneaker/basketball chandelier). The intent of the client’s design was to replicate the look of a traditional wooden retractable bleacher wall and in my opinion this is perfectly accomplished.
Often the simplicity of a design masks the complexity required in its execution. The demands of this particular job were especially rigid and resulted in an epic team effort.
We successfully sourced nearly 10,000 square feet of material from a school that was local to the Chicago area. This material was shipped to our shop in Farmington, NY where we…
- cleaned decades worth of gum off of every board, (this was full time work for several employees; we still have gum remnants on our shop floor)
- ripped the bullnose edges off of half the stock and then re-attached these bullnose edges to the remaining material
- milled a custom profile into the top and bottom of each assembled unit
- backed each unit with 1/4″ Luan to achieve the requireed thickness
- sanded and refinished each unit with three coats of polyurethane
We frequently are involved in projects of large scope but few have required the level of precision that this job demanded.
As I surveyed the installed project, I could not help but feel a disconnect between the drama that permeates my memory of its production and the simple, unassuming appearance of the material in situ. I found myself wishing that I could have experienced this finished project in the company of all the other co-workers who labored in its execution. We could have shared our battle stories as we toured the site. Unfortunately it was just myself and a herd of holiday shoppers, who I suspect found the display of Air Jordan’s more compelling than the bleachers on the wall.
On another note, I live with a daily reminder of these bleachers. Soon after the job completed I built a chicken coop in my garage. I used some of the left over bleacher scrap as paneling inside inside the coop. My hope was that the stenciled numbers would make my chickens more intelligent. It did; they escaped.
Anyhow, we still have some of these cool scraps in our shop. They are ripped to about 5″ wide and would add some real funk to any project. If you’re lucky, you might even find a remnant or two of juicy fruit stuck to the back.