respecting the space
I had all these plans for installing the large painting rack for Amy’s paintings in one of the upstairs storage rooms. They even involved my use of a plumb bob, a beautiful tool used by carpenters and masons to find specific points on a true vertical line.
Two hundred years gives a building character. While this historic structure has a sense of permanence, with its thick brick walls, the catacomb-like cellar, its history dating back to Lincoln’s time, there is also a definite sense of change. Modern physics says we and everything in existence are physically a mass of atoms and particles in motion, resembling the solar system, a galaxy or even the universe. Well the building almost seems to prove that point, because nothing is straight, nothing is flat, nothing is square and nothing is truly vertical.
I was going to attempt to fit the racks to the wall in an upstairs storage room. We plumbed lines along two walls preparing for anchoring the rack to the walls for support. I was getting all technical, pulling from my brain rationale from my high school geometry class, planning.
I bought the plumb bob nearly forty some years ago at an Army Surplus in Missouri. “Why?” my graduate Professor asked. “Because I like it!” was my answer. It’s such a simple, elegant little object for a difficult problem to solve. How else can we find the true vertical from any point? Never had a use for it until today. But I never felt it was a mistake to buy it. My Dad had one. He used it to build a new house when I was less than 10 years old. I used to help him by watching the instrument swing the a given point, telling him to move one way or another, until he quickly made a mark. Typically, just like Amy did today as I held the string to the ceiling, she would try to stop it from its motion to see where it would settle, while my arm fatigued. Finally we found the spot and quickly marked it, just like my Dad, when he was building the house.
I had the newly painted wall all marked up. Stepping back getting ready to go downstairs to the sculpture shop to make some fixtures to attach the rack to the wall, I stopped and contemplated the pure geometric beauty of that object, the plumb bob. Then it dawned on me! We do not have to attach the rack to the building. I thought of ways to give it minimal support and avoid chewing up the walls with workman gymnastics. I found a way to honor the building, to respect the space.
We then quickly assembled the rack and set it in place. We couldn’t wait until tomorrow to place Amy’s large paintings in there before going home for supper. The result is almost as elegant as the plumb bob, but not quite! Such is the process of creative making, to stay loose with your plan.
Oh! We did clean up the markings on the freshly painted wall, um, er, that Amy painted.