We tend to do all the documenting in huge bursts, which–believe me–is not the best way to do it. It always means faking “during” shots, re-cleaning and re-styling for after photos, and getting so frustrated that we didn’t take more befores. Two great rules we need to start following: 1. Clean as you go. 2. Photograph as you go.
Anyway, here’s a project from a couple years ago! My personal favorite actually, and one that we did manage to photograph while it was happening. And thank god we did. I don’t know exactly how many hours it took altogether, but I’d guess at least a hundred. I still can’t believe it’s done. And that I did it. Everything from pulling hundreds of feet of thick old oak basecap molding (yes, oak!) out of an abandoned school in North Philly to spraying on the final coat of paint. None of it was easy, but the final result was worth every second. I doubt most visitors even realize that molding hasn’t always been there.
The first step was salvaging all the wood, which I did solo one snowy winter day a couple years ago. A friend of a friend had shown me this amazing abandoned school in North Philly. It had been sitting for years, slowly falling to ruin at the hands of kids, scrappers, and the weather. It was slated for demolition any day (but actually took another year or two), so I didn’t feel too bad about trying to preserve some of the unbelievable craftsmanship that had gone into building the place. (School photos from a different mission on a different day, thanks to Hilly Cribben!)
It’s not easy to salvage around four hundred linear feet of molding, let alone singlehandedly. Pulling it off’s just the first step. A lot of hallways and rooms like this one were left cap-less that day.
After I reached my linear foot goal, I had to haul all the pieces down a few hallways and stairs, across a courtyard, up a few more stairs in the gymnasium, and out one of the former windows. Defenestrated, the molding would land in the quickly accumulating snow about fifteen feet below, ready for me to circle back and pick it up in the clean black minivan I’d rented for the day.
After all that, at the end of a very long day, the wood ended up in the dining room, ready for action. If you ever need extra motivation to get a project done, just pile up the supplies in your dining room to the point that you can barely walk past, especially if your supplies still need to be denailed. You’ll be dying to finish before you’ve even started! And just like that, the room quickly started coming together.