It’s like making a Giant Painting…

…overheard while eating chicken soup on a tuesday night…and the rest of the sentence was, ” but it takes three years of your life and a ton of money.”

Latest Zaitz Original!
Latest Zaitz Original!

Michael was referring to the renovation of White Church Gallery, specifically the altarpiece we’re working on.

The sides are the pillars.
The sides are the pillars.

This past weekend was all about putting some wood up on the front of the church. I started the ball rolling on Friday by pulling staples. It’s been awhile since I’d done it, and it seemed harder somehow than the last time. The staples were rusty and stubborn. It was the opposite of fun.

Ugly, ugly staples.
Ugly, ugly staples.

I had to clear the floor around the pillars, because work was about to commence on them. So I pulled staples and sanded around the front of the Church. Saturday morning, bright and early, we got to the church filled with eagerness and a bit of anxiousness. We’d been working on the wood planks for almost two months now, taking them from rough sawn planks all the way to the glorious art pieces they became. But now, after weeks and weeks of planning and plotting, we were finally going to see how the whole thing would look. Would it look as we intended- to be a glorious work of art? Or would it look like Dean Martin’s living room? (Actually- Dean Martin’s living room ain’t too bad!)

Owners: Dean Martin…Tom Jones…Nicolas Cage…then Citibank…
Owners: Dean Martin…Tom Jones…Nicolas Cage…then Citibank…

The first step was to do the bottom border. These border pieces came from giant planks of walnut.

Mitering needed!
Mitering needed!

This procedure took some hours, since it needed to be practically perfect. Level, fitted, and mitered.

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All went fairly smoothly; there was a rhythm of measuring thrice and cutting once.

Measure it one more time…
Measure it one more time…

And then it happened. A boo boo. A piece of walnut got cut too short. Red Alert, Emergency! Luckily we had a chunk of unprocessed walnut nearby. I ran it through the planer a few times, I jointed the edges, then did a quick but thorough sand job on it. It would have to be clear-coated in situ. But it looked fine, and work could continue.

All angles and edges…
All angles and edges…

Walnut is a VERY hard wood, but it keeps a nice edge.

Ah, mitered!
Ah, mitered!
Sweet! It all fits!
Sweet! It all fits!

Once the base was finished, we started on the upright pieces.

With a little help from our friends!
With a little help from our friends!

Thanks to Rybak’s owners Paul and Ann for burning the late night oil with us and getting the first layers of the altar piece up. It was grueling, exacting, tiring, but inspiring.

At last!!
At last!!

And so it goes…piece by piece, bevel by bevel. Screw by awkward screw. Awkward, because Mike had to screw each of the boards in from the back.

His arm had to fit through the space you see here at the side. And then somehow bend around enough to put pressure on the driver to screw into extremely hard wood from the back. (After drilling a pilot hole.)

There's not a lot of room behind!
There’s not a lot of room behind!

We had two different nail lengths depending on which wood it was going through. There was a lot of thought put into this! And it was exhausting work.

But we think it was worth it. Here’s the other side.

It looks better in person…
It looks better in person…

There are imperfections, and we’ll fix a few next time, but this represents so much effort that I hope it shows.

I had to take a selfie- and I think it’s my fave so far. Blurry, wrinkled eyes, weariness, but a sense of purpose and accomplishment.

Hey now!
Hey now!

The next morning, things still looked good, so we did a photo shoot.

The Artist
The Artist
And the apprentice!
And the apprentice!

Until we meet again!

 

– The White Church Gallery

 

 

 

Enjoy the Process!

We have a lot of wood that needs to be processed. Processing wood (my definition) means taking it from a rough-sawn piece of lumber to a finished piece that can be used as art.

Hey! That sounds like work!
Hey! That sounds like work!

Yes, it is a lot of work, dear Thomas. But it won’t cut into your nap time, never fear!

The beginning of the process was to plane the wood, as we saw in a previous episode.

After planing, we had a lovely pile of planks, all with slightly different widths and lengths. So we measured them and sorted them into piles.
Assorted widths!
Assorted widths!
Piles of planks.
Piles of planks.
After long deliberation, a decision had to be made. It wouldn’t have been as hard a decision if I hadn’t gotten all sentimental about losing width. The Cherry wood is so very beautiful, each piece with its own intricate and mystical design, that to modify it by sawing off an inch of it seemed a crime. Almost like cropping a painting!
What is it? Cropped!
What is it? Cropped!
Cropped it must be. The pieces couldn’t be different widths.
But wait! We can cut a straight edge without…a straight edge! So we had to use the jointer. The jointer is like the planer- it has rotating blades that makes a smooth edge. One side had to be very smooth so that it would glide against the fence on the saw and create a straight edge on the cut side.
The red warning label says: "Caution! Rotating knives"
The red warning label says: “Caution! Rotating knives”
It wouldn’t be a work-in-progress picture without the white orbs of dust! The camera (as you must have guessed by now) turns the millions of dust particles in the air into little white orbs of unfocussed annoyance.
White orbs of wonder!
White orbs of wonder!
Each time we planed or jointed, we made lots of sawdust. Since it’s March in the Thumb of Michigan, it’s still quite cold and snowy out. So we decided that sawdust would provide good traction on the ice!
Well, it seemed efficient at the time…
Well, it seemed efficient at the time…
Since I possess powers of looking into the future, I can tell you that we’re going to end up with sawdust “art” all over the front yard. But that won’t happen till the end of March!
Hey, how did she know?
Hey, how did she know?
I guess I was so busy looking into the future that I forgot to take pictures of sawing the wood to width. However my excuse is that when using the table saw, both people have to be on full alert. There really was no opportunity to take pictures and retain all our digits.
Hijinks under the Table Saw!
Hijinks under the Table Saw!
I did get some shots of the next step; cutting the bevels. We’d had protracted discussion about beveling the edges of the wood. In my minds eye, I thought it might look a little dated. In the artist’s eye (Michael), it would look great. Plus, it had the advantage of being the only practical way to ensure that the edges of the wood would line up and hide any imperfections. So the edges were all beveled. It was the right thing to do!
Beloved bevels!
Beloved bevels!
Perhaps you can see the level of alertness both participants needed for this kind of work!
Those are bevel remnants. Thin long triangles of wood. Fun!
Those are bevel remnants. Thin long triangles of wood. Fun!
That's a bevel!
That’s a bevel!
Next, we had to sand. And sand and sand. Again, as with the planing, ear protection is key to surviving the process without annoying “Wha?” syndrome.
Orange cuties!
Orange cuties!
Sanding is not a very photogenic process. Nor is it terribly exciting, but it did give me a sense of accomplishment, and I enjoyed it.
So I set up my sanders!
Three sanders…
Three sanders…
…three different grits.
…three different grits.
Oh yes, I had a little workshop set up for myself. My table top was an old door, and I had outlets and a light and everything! I masked up, squeezed in the Orange Cuties, and went to work!
Sanding
Sanding
I love you, Walnut plank.
I love you, Walnut plank.
I must say, I had more fun sanding these pieces than pretty much anything else I can think of. Mike says it’s because I like fiddly work. Perhaps, but I have officially begun a love affair with wood that I think anyone who works with it must fall into.
In between these activities, we just had to sneak peak at the soon to be Altarpiece. ( I looked it up- the name seems to fit what we are doing according to ancient church terms.)
Altarpiece- all in Cherry wood!
Altarpiece- all in Cherry wood!
Word to your mother: it doesn’t end up being all Cherry…
So: Here’s the results of weeks of work:
Walnut
Walnut
Cherry
Cherry
As hard as we worked, the maple was left undone. Mike the hero had to drive to Grindstone in the middle of the work week to take care of mailing back the water pump that arrived broken.
Broken bits!
Broken bits!
Meanwhile he sanded the Maple. No pix. Just an exhausting drive and more work.
So until next time, keep on keeping on…
He measures up!
He measures up!
– The White Church Gallery

It’s Friday, we must be…

Heading North!
Heading North!

Yes, the weekend ritual, with small variations, is to get through the work week, discuss plans, throw a bunch of stuff in the truck, toss the dog in and point the Chevy toward the N. Pole.

We stop at the end of M-53, where this long road meets the Lake. Sometimes it feels like the N. Pole.

I must point out that every weekend, without fail, I toss my knitting bag into the vehicle we’re driving. And every weekend, without fail, it makes the trip back untouched, unloved and undone.
But I have eternal optimism that the green yarn you see there will be made into the blanket/hat/whatevah. Ha!
Not when there is a metric ton of wood to be processed!
For most of February and now into March, we’ve been processing wood. Pine, Maple, Cherry and Walnut. It sounds good enough to eat!

Lots of Fiber!
Lots of Fiber!

We had rough sawn wood.

That means pretty much right from the tree.
That means pretty much right from the tree.
I tried the best I could to capture the gorgeous natural beauty of the wood, but I failed. The wood is more awesome than my camera shows. But it all had to be processed; the wild ends where living pulp meets bark had to go.
The first step is to plane the wood. That means to shave off layers of the rough sawn jaggedness and leave a smooth, hopefully straight edge. The wood basically came from the tree!
The planer is a device that is:
1. Really loud
2. Really cool
3. Really slow
When we first started planing, we stuck the whole plank through. That was hard. And kinda dumb. We learned… better to cut it to length first, then push it through.
What were you thinking, humans?
What were you thinking, humans?
You KNOW there’s going to be gratuitous puppy shots now, right? Thomas has integrated deeply into our lives. I’m not sure how he’ll do once we open the gallery- Mini Dachsunds are traditionally shy with strangers. But we’ll see…
Gratuitous wood shots!
Gratuitous wood shots!
Meanwhile, there’s the wood.
Mike was at the feeding end of the planer, but I was at the fed-out end. I’m sure there’s a better name for it, but I’ll just call it the magical end. Because it was truly magic. Every time a plank went through the planer, more breathtaking views came out.

I don’t have many pictures of this process because I was busy holding wood! It takes focus!
Here’s one…

Pushin' it through!
Pushin’ it through!
And this doesn’t do it justice, but you can kind of see that bits are being revealed! (I might have gotten yelled at for taking pictures rather than focussing!)
Unveiling!
Unveiling!
And more…
In process…
In process…
I also have pictures of the process of figuring out how to do this in the first place:
Ciphering dimensions.
Ciphering dimensions.
And pictures of using the jointer. Jointing is when you make the edges of the boards flat. But it also can plane the wide face of the board. It’s fun!
Wee, this is fun!
Wee, this is fun!
You will notice the ear protection. I’m teaching about sound waves in Physics during my week-day job, and I’m blathering on to my students about how delicate the ear mechanisms are. And then I prove how old I am by giving them a frequency test. I only make it to 14 Kilohertz. The under-21’s hear into the much higher frequencies. I remind them that they, too, will get old one day and that perhaps they shouldn’t turn their ear pods up to full blast. They, of course, ignore my advice as only a 17 year old can!
Can you see the orange foam ear plugs?
Can you see the orange foam ear plugs?
I took breaks to do some testing. Hey, I’m a scientist! How will the wood look with different stains. I needed to know. So I set up a lab and testing began!
Testing, testing!
Testing, testing!
Turns out, we decided to go with clear coat. With this fine grained, dense, rich wood grain, clear seemed to be the way to let the beauty though.
Clear coats for you, me hearties!
Clear coats for you, me hearties!
More next time!
– The White Church Gallery

Wood, Lovely Wood

We’ve started working on the front piece. Grindstone Mike has taken to calling it a riser. Mainly because it rises up in the front.

Yeah, but I thought choirs stood on risers!
Yeah, but I thought choirs stood on risers!

Maybe someday a choir will stand here, but for now, it needs a facelift.
We have acquired lots of wood from our Amish friends, and it has been drying for some time.

Playing with wood.
Playing with wood.

This piece is going to be art, so much contemplation and experimentation must preface the construction.

Cherry, Maple, or Pine?
Cherry, Maple, or Pine?
Woof! (that means yes!)
Woof! (that means yes!)

– The White Church Gallery

 

Floored Part II

Last week in our exciting episode of “Let’s Renovate an Old Church in Our Spare Time” we left halfway done with the floors. So what was it like to go back at it the following weekend?

It was awesome. It was like getting back on the horse, after you had fallen and broken all the tender bits on your body!

The Stage is set for more work...
The Stage is set for more work…

And work it was.

Plug and play!
Plug and play!

When we finished last weekend, it felt like we might be halfway done. Or even more!

Nope.

Lots more to love.
Lots more to love.

But it won’t get done by wishing, so let’s get started!

First we used the large sander. Last week we had the drum sander, but we wanted to try the circular one. It had about the same effect. It took off the top layers a little quicker than the drum sander, but it was a lot trickier to handle. If you tried to steer it,  it had a tendency to spin off into its own circular spasm of cyclonic motion, taking the handler with it. But if you got all zen with it and let it do its thing, it would drift along in a cloud of dust and swirl its way down the planks.

Swirly
Swirly
Gettin Zen widdit.
Gettin Zen widdit.

But to really finish the job, the Bronco had to be engaged.

Engaging the Bronco
Engaging the Bronco

You can see the difference.

Bronco Mike and his Bulging Biceps!
Bronco Mike and his Bulging Biceps!
Viva La Difference!
Viva La Difference!

And so it went. Circular swirls and Bronco bucking.

Next thing you know,

Are we done yet?
Are we done yet?

Yeah, we got done. But did I get a shot of it?

Not really, so this will have to do.

Dunzo.
Dunzo.

 

– The White Church Gallery

 

Colonial Slate Grey

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That’s the color we picked for the enormous roof job on the Church. (It’s on the bottom left.) Scaffolding is up, weather is reasonable, and things are progressing.

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As you can see, the roof is rather steep, and the bell room especially so. I don’t envy anyone this job, but we have contracted the best around, Ron Picard.

P1010051

Stay tuned for updates!
Here’s the latest “investment” in grass care technology.
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Say “pretty please” and I’ll let you ride it!
PRETTY PLEASE???
WEE HOO!
WEE HOO!
How much fun I had mowing the lawn, only me and the dandelions will ever know!
We and our neighbors across the street split the cost and “elected” me chief lawn mower (because of me stuffing the ballot box!)
Over yonder, across Grindstone corners…
In Memorial, Grindstone City Pioneers, 1835-1938
In Memorial, Grindstone City Pioneers, 1835-1938
…activity revolves around wood!
OSB was laid in the top story of the barn, and wood will be dried there.
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Pat and Duane’s new puppy Millie helped!
Sniff sniff.. needs two years of drying, at least..ruff ruff...
Sniff sniff.. needs two years of drying, at least..ruff ruff…
Ok, let's let the wood dry in peace!
Ok, let’s let the wood dry in peace!
Nothing left to do but try out my new device! My incurably generous and thoughtful father sent me this in the mail! I think he found it on Ebay.
A Wool Cutter! With a foot pedal!
A Wool Cutter! With a foot pedal!
What is a wool cutter? In the world of rug-making, it is a device that cuts wool strips so you can hook them into the rug backing. I’ve been doing it by hand, which is  relaxing and fun to me, but this device is just too cute not to use, plus it cuts twice as fast! Some genius engineering husband of a crafty woman probably cobbled this together and used a motor with a worm gear to move the cutting heads.
Old method using fabric cutter and rusty square.
Old method using fabric cutter and rusty square.
It cuts two strips at a time, and straight!
It cuts two strips at a time, and straight!
Unfortunately, the (maybe not genius) husband of the woman for whom this device was made used a  metal worm gear with a vinyl plastic gear, and it wasn’t long before my fun turned to dismay as the metal ate into the plastic and it started to slip. I had stripped it a little. I had been warned not to use it until strong man hands tightened it up, but I couldn’t resist, and now I’ve gone and stripped the gear.
So back to the pizza-cutter method for now.
Strips of wood and wool, all to be made into useful helpful household objects.
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I hope the Pioneers of Grindstone City are looking down on us and smiling!

– The White Church Gallery

Board, but not Bored

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So besides the furnace ouster last weekend, we also kept ourselves from being “board”…

Using old electric cords to bundle ceiling planks
Using old electric cords to bundle ceiling planks

by cleaning up the sanctuary, but not before trying out the art in the new venue.

This is gonna be good...
This is gonna be good…

Off with the carpet!

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Well those wires are a hot mess...
Well those wires are a hot mess…
Sharing the vision with daughter Eva...
Sharing the vision with daughter Eva…
....pretty sure these aren't "hot"...
….pretty sure these aren’t “hot”…
...pretty sure this piano's dead...
…pretty sure this piano’s dead…
...pretty sure this church is going to be awesome...
…pretty sure this church is going to be awesome…

Friend Duane was up with more freshly turned bowls and a check for the barn…

Coming soon to Grindstone City...Duane's Wood Shop!
Coming soon to Grindstone City…Duane’s Wood Shop!
The Ascetic
The Ascetic
The art looks great, with or without the finished gallery. I’m so lucky to have such beautiful art  hanging up around my house. I think some people shy away from art because they are unsure of how to react- or how to think or what to say about it. But painting, like music, dance, and other arts, can touch something in you that doesn’t need thoughts or words. This hand of an Indian ascetic, holding the prayer beads, buried in the sand, is such a vision of hope and devotion to me that it just touches me every time I look at it.
I’m sure that’s what these two were discussing…
...furnace needs to go...
…furnace needs to go…
So that’s the other part of the weekend. Family fun with Eva and Jack her boyfriend, Pat and Duane, and of course, the Don, Paul Fisher.
The Don poses...
The Don poses…
St. Michael and his seraphim
St. Michael and his seraphim

– The White Church Gallery

Friends and Neighbors

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Who’s that sneaking around back, hooking up… ELECTRICITY???  Power? Lights? All that comes with the modern age?

Far out! Electricity is surely on the checklist. Light, heat, and TUNES!

P1010022   P1010020

But nature is still in charge. Look at the beautiful art it makes on the INSIDE of the window!

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Friends and soon to be neighbors were up to help with demolition. Thanks so much, Duane and Pat. They will be Grindstone Corners neighbors soon!

Pat taking off molding
Pat taking off molding
Duane helping to de-nail lumber
Duane helping to de-nail lumber

 

Another building that needs love!
Another building that needs love!

The Barn Door is …closed for now! But not for ever…Pat and Duane are going to bring it back to life. A Wood Shop. Wood, metal, stone.

Can cute get any, gosh, cuter?

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So work progresses, even at night now. The ceiling tiles were held up by piles and piles of very nice, very expensive lumber!

$5-$6 a piece! American!
$5-$6 a piece! American!
Wood chair!
Wood chair!

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Happy Church!

New Friends and Neighbors across the street are renovating Captain Peer’s place, but it’s not mine to reveal:

The Old Peer Building
The Old Peer Building

It’s going to be awesome, though, and I can’t wait till it opens! Ice Cream, candy, and toys! Just for starters…

Meanwhile,  back to work..

I know how to use a hammer.
I know how to use a hammer.
– The White Church Gallery