The Existential Drip

This may be My Favorite Connection. The combination of client, setting, process, and product is irresistible. It all started simply enough: when a timber is wider than the timber in which it terminates, “something needs to happen.” Most times, we simply taper it into a smaller timber; one that fits more readily and elegantly. This tapering gets boring pretty quickly, since the only decision is how long is that taper – a relatively random and meaningless dimension.

In a crucial spot, high in a dramatic space at the core of an amazing home atop a wonderful hill overlooking La Bras D’or (in Nova Scotia, eh?), we had a ten inch wide post landing on an eight inch wide timber. When I sketched and proposed my "drip solution" to the crew, I met with fairly universal wide-eyed stares. Way too weird for them, let alone the client, thought all. A mockup was in order. I talked Brian Smeltz into helping me to build it and to hang it from an overhead hook for the client to see. The Drip has carved pieces on either side that stand proud of the supporting timber and extend past it, carved to appear to be melting around it. Furthermore, there is a center “tenon,” also carved to appear to be melting through the supporting timber. I was physically restrained, from hanging a literal drip of wood from one of them, on a monofilament line. It can be good, to have "The Top" pointed out by others, before you go over it.

As we walked the client up to the prototype drip, I explained where we proposed to put it, prefacing it by warning him that this might be more statement than he wanted in his home. Bart Weller looked up at it, looked up at me, and said: “Why not?” Brian and I turned toward one another. Our Favorite Line, from one of our Favorite Films – The Wild Bunch. The most existential line in a remarkable film. William Holden has walked into a room full of his equally disenchanted, functionally obsolete, fellow gunmen. He is strapping on his sidearm, preparatory to taking on an entire Mexican quasi-army. He says to a pair of brothers, played by Warren Oates and Ernest Borgnine, “Let’s go.” The brothers look at one another, and one utters Bart’s line.

Tragically, Bart fell to his death; landing at his wife’s feet, just days before we arrived to start erecting what remains one of the more special timber frames I know. I could tell tales about this project, the people involved, and the raising process, for hours. But I won’t. Well, OK - but just one: Joe maintains the BWC yard and is a pillar of reliability and physique. He came to me, soon after we had cut The Drip and told me that he knew why I had done it – because each peg now passes through four shear planes, rather than just two. I looked up at him, chuckled, and STILL wonder if he was teasing.

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