Monday, December 29, 2008

Update On The Earth Home Garden Temple Of The Lost Civilization, Tool Crib, Workshop, Fallout Shelter, Den Of Antiquities, And Beer Garden Pub...

The Chernobyl Door
Click on photo to enlarge - ©2008 jim otterstrom

One can't erect a monument of junk to the folly of the Twentieth Century without including a reference to our nuclear adventurism, so I've christened my new shed door in honor of that most infamous of meltdowns thus far.

I kept my eyes peeled for months, looking for an old beat up door I could salvage for the shed, to no avail. It finally came to the point where winter weather was bearing down and I had to buy a door.

The cheapest sturdy door I could find cost $88 at Home Depot, and, aesthetically, it was completely unnacceptable as an entrance for my funky Den Of Antiquities, but it was modifiable.

It's a steel door! Or, I guess I should explain, a wood frame with a thin steel skin attached to both sides, filled with expanded foam. And, It was painted white. Disgusting!

The day after I brought it home I was walking on a back street near the airport with Dallas and saw a perfectly good used wooden door sitting out with someone's trash. So, I figured I'd come back and carry it home, with some help from Peggy, and return the ugly metal door to Home Depot and get my 88 bucks back. However, by the time I went home, got Peg, and came back, the door was gone.
Alas, I was stuck with the sterile white door!
What to do?

To match the old junk that I built my new shed from, I decided to transform the new door into old junk!

Really a quite simple process, if a bit time consuming, but art takes time...

Sanding The Brand New DoorClick on photo to enlarge - ©2008 jim otterstrom

The first step in transforming the door into something I could live with was sanding off most of the white paint. This took less than an hour to accomplish. I left a little paint in the crevices of the stamped panels for character (or, out of laziness, whichever you'd prefer).

My plan was then to spray the unpainted metal door with a mixture of sea salt (from our condiments cupboard) and water, until it rusted to a nice reddish brown patina.

Detail Of The Sanded Door
Click on photo to enlarge - ©2008 jim otterstrom

What I hadn't anticipated, was that the steel under the white paint was galvanized, zinc coated to inhibit the formation of rust. Once I realized this, I had to spend many, many, more hours sanding off the stubborn galvanizing so the door would actually rust (nice stuff to breathe that zinc dust, but my beard doesn't accommodate a sanding mask very well).

Days later, once the door was rusting nicely (and my lungs were beginning to recover), I set the jamb and hung it in place. I installed a metal threshold, measuring the bottom clearance to make sure I had allowed enough room for the rubber seal to compress. Everthing looked like it would fit perfectly until I shut the door. It was a pretty tight fit at the bottom seal so I thought I'd open it back up and lube the rubber with some graphite.

But the door was stuck! I pushed & pushed, but the damned thing was frozen shut! Finally, I thrust all my 195 pounds against it with enough force to break the seal, which also peeled off the front metal skin to about six inches up from the bottom.
Hmmmmm! Now, how am I going to repair this disaster?

I got out the tin snips and raggedly trimmed about 1/4 inch off the bottom of the metal skin, screwing it back down with drywall screws.
Perfect!!! Just what my door needed, some authentic jury-rigged character borne of indomitable American ingenuity!

Almost Finished
Click on photo to enlarge - ©2008 jim otterstrom

Add some vintage porcelain enameled PG&E signs to the door, an old Cold War Fallout Shelter sign, and there you have it!

~The Chernobyl Door~

Just beautiful!!!
If I do say so myself...

I still have to distress (beat up with secret aging techniques) & paint the cheesy spliced jambs with some appropriate color, like flat olive drab or battleship gray, and, add a few more of my fence signs at the left of the door, but you get the idea.


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Blogger Madcap said...

Always inspiring for the layman to read about the methods of the master-artist... you'd have a blast with our "farm"... of course, there's not much left that hasn't had this treatment already!

11:43 AM  
Blogger Jim said...


Too bad this master of fine-art can't make a salvage run out to your place...


1:21 PM  
Blogger Brad Henderson said...

Nice work Jim, this looks like about the best door Home Cheepo has ever sold. Pity about the inadequate thickness of both paint and zinc :)

9:43 PM  
Blogger Val said...

Indomitable American spirit indeed! A great tale. I hope your beard acted as a filter for most of the dreadful dust. Did you tape it up over your nostrils Jim?

Shame you dont live near us, my husband is a builder. You would love his yard of stuff he cant bear to throw away. Thirty years worth!

5:48 AM  
Blogger susan said...

I wish you both all the very best for the new year in hope all the doors of illusion be unlocked.

7:31 AM  
Blogger Madcap said...

Happy New Year Yourself! Actually, I'm NOT trifling... the weather kept our guests away. You?

8:53 PM  
Blogger David Edward said...

Happy New year, jim and Peggy

10:05 PM  
Blogger David Edward said...

next time you need doors or windows -email me

10:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I see the cross of Jeesus on that
heavenly door.perhaps a shrine?
we must keep a close eye on this
temple of antiquities

11:41 PM  

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