More good news this morning: the icehouse coving is complete!
It looks so seamless, so simple now that the woodwork is joined, the discrete elements have coalesced, and the paint has dried. Integration. Cohesion. Hurrah!
Only a few months ago, this vision — more mirage than meaningful map forward — danced in my imagination. It was a problem to solve, actually a couple of problems, plus the possibility of an elegant if understated solution.
During my recent on-site meetings with the team I discussed a specific twist that needs resolving in order to move forward with coving construction (and tie-rod fabrication). There are ledgers along the north wall and south wall top plates that were installed in 2006 as part of our roof rebuild. All of the rafters land on these ledgers. The rebuilt roof is robust in part because of this interesting workaround, but it creates a 1-1/2” step near the top of the wall that introduces an impediment (or possibly a benefit) for coving construction. Basically, our construction plan (A402, detail 4) does not account for this plane discrepancy. I’m endeavoring to integrate the step structurally into the cove construction. Although this structural element creates an added challenge, I actually think that it might contribute to a pragmatic solution… [However, this] idea doesn’t (yet) integrate electrical, focusing just on structural and finish integration. (Source: Ciphering on Icehouse Coving)
The electrical uncertainty pertained to low voltage lighting that is being concealed above the north and south side coving, gently illuminating the vaulted ceiling and allowing for a shadow line above the coving. (See the coiled wire in the image below?) That installation comes next. Here’s hoping that the results match up with my hopes…
Pieces of the Puzzle
The snapshot directly above and the next one below, offer a glimpse into the carpentry process for fabricating the coving detail. Multiple constituent parts comprise this otherwise subtle, understated design element.
Like pieces of a three-dimensional puzzle finding their companions, the intricate borders, contours, and profiles fuse into a whole. With an ooold structure like this late 19th century icehouse, there’s another challenging. Few, if any, angles are true. Corners are infrequently 90°, walls bow and they’re rarely plumb. So scribing and fine-tuning are constant and critical. Measure, cut, fit, tune, refit, re-tune,…
But, little by little, headway is made. And, as you can observe in the almost complete coving photo and the post-paint photo below, diverse puzzle pieces pull together and begin to merge. There’s a profoundly rewarding coalescence as heterogeneous components form a homogeneous ensemble. From pieces, emerge a whole.
Wait what?!?! How did we get here? What did I miss?
If you’re perplexed with my quasi communion-esque enthusiasm for carpentry-conjoining bits and pieces of wood into architectural poetry, I understand. I offer you my sincere condolences. My peculiar propensity to understand (and communicate) creative processes — and I’m speaking in sweeping, inclusive, and trade androgynous terms from gardening and landscaping to construction and cabinetry, writing and theatre to dance and song — in analogous and overlapping ways. It’s not a bug, it’s a feature!
But let’s double back a beat or three in case the coving journey slipped past unexamined.
Structural integration for coving in the icehouse’s vaulted ceiling area is now complete… wrapping around the north, west, and south walls at the height where ceiling and the north/south walls meet… a new horizontal ledger has been installed and the “shelf” has been fastened underneath. (Source: Icehouse Coving Progress)
From unanticipated challenge to opportunity, from draftsman’s drawing to incongruous field conditions, a carpenter’s quiver need be equipped with *BOTH* skill and art. Fortunately our team is innovative and creative and persistent. Hurdles are chances to share ideas and collaborate on workarounds.
The next step will be to encase the 2x8s with trim (dimensional poplar) that will meet up with T&G nickel gap paneling on the ceiling and walls as shown above. Cove crown will be installed beneath the shelf, and an aluminum track will be installed in the corner of the shelf to secure LED strip lighting. (Source: Icehouse Coving Progress)
Now we’re ready for the strip lighting. Imagine the view below as it will appear once the cove on the right is gently backlit…
With a flicker of fortune, I’ll be posting that update soon!