Wednesday Vignette – two boots

Joining in my own meme over on Flutter & Hum this week, with a couple of photos from my recent trip home. Both are from my hometown Åtvidaberg, and both feature boots of one sort or another. The first is a vignette from Åtvid’s Bruksmuseum, which celebrates the little town’s heyday, when copper and furniture design were major sources of income. The second is a wonderfully quaint sign that remains, long after the business it once signified has faded into the depths of memory.

Boots and ladders

Shoemaker sign

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The seven year wait…

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So far, this week has been a pretty normal week for me, but it contains a GIGANTIC mile stone for my friend and co-worker Gina.  After the upcoming weekend, she and her husband will be at the end of a process that has absorbed a significant portion of their lives, and practically all of their savings. If all goes well, it will come in the form of a hotly coveted Occupancy Permit to their new house, built to their specifications, on a wooded lot in the magnificent Columbia River Gorge. Gina and Raul knew early on in their relationship that they wanted to move outside of the city. About seven years ago, or so, they found the perfect lot – 5 acres of forest with a creek running through it.

The creek.

The creek.

For a while, they poured over house plans, comparing, combining, tweaking, until they had found the right configuration for their highly energy-efficient dream house. Then came the arduous process of shopping for contractors. They settled on a Portland company called Coho Construction Services Inc. – a company which prides itself on environmentally responsible construction. So far, it sounds pretty dreamy, right? After spending a lot more than planned on a building permit (it apparently costs a lot more to build in the Gorge than in the city) they worked out the details with the owner of Coho. They had enough money for the foundation and to erect the shell, he said, and so it began. After the foundation was in place, Coho packed up his stuff and left. They were out of money, he claimed. So, instead of the promised shell, they now had about 1/3 of what had been agreed upon, and an empty bank account.

UPDATE: One of Coho’s subcontractors – JRA Green Building was instrumental in helping them finish the shell after the GC left them stranded. After Gina read what I had written, she wanted me to add a big shout-out to JRA, so here it is… Per the happy couple, James Ray Arnold is the guy you want. Check out his website – if you are bucking the current Portland trend of  crappy housing development – he is definitely worth considering. A certified Passive house consultant, and with Living Building Challenge credentials to boot, I would have to agree – he sounds very much like my kind of people.

This was back in 2011, and this is where it all slowed down. Since then, they have juggled two mortgages, and spent just about every penny and available moment on-site, building their dream themselves. Everything else were set aside, as all efforts went into The House. Building permits come with expiration dates. Soon after I got to know Gina, I learned that the time for the original permit was up, and they were applying for an extension. It was granted, but if they were to not have received their Occupancy Permit by September 21, 2015 (i.e. next Monday), they would have to reapply for an entirely new building permit, thereby being forced to comply with any and all changes that had been adopted by the code since the last one was issued. (Under their old permit, they would be allowed to squeak by without making the changes.)

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Through all this time, they have managed to not only staying together, but also kept their eyes on the goal. They have not compromised on their high standards. Building is expensive enough as it is, and building to this level of energy efficiency costs even more. Granted, with rising energy costs, those extras will soon pay for themselves. Gina and Raul essentially built themselves a Passive House. A Passive House is a house that is so well insulated that it does not need a heating system. It is heated by its inhabitants, and by appliances. It’s pretty amazing – you can read much more about Passive Houses here.

If you build a Passive House in the US, you may apply to have it certified so by the  PHIUS (Passive House Institute – US). To get this certification, certain criteria have to be met, both in terms of design, construction and site orientation. One of the main reasons their attempt at certification was denied, was that they didn’t absorb enough solar heat through expansive south and west-facing windows. This is one of those things that bother me with these certifications – certain aspects of them are so unforgivingly irrational. Having sufficient solar gain designed into a project presupposes that you are on a lot that enables that. It’s not really going to be all that realistic when your house is in the middle of a forest.  But, as I said in that Passive House post from so long ago – the certification itself might be fun to have, but in reality it doesn’t really mean jack. What really is important is that we all try our best to make sustainable choices, tread lightly on the planet we all share, and try to remember that we are not the last generation on Earth. I’d be the first to tell you that most of us – including me – could (and should) do a lot better. People like Gina and Raul inspire me. They have put their all into this house, and I want to see them succeed. So, let’s take a look at what they have done, shall we?

Around Midsummer, when the daylight lasted as long as possible, they invited us to come see The House and the property. William, I and my husband John drove out together after work.

Our hosts, meeting us in the driveway.

Our hosts, meeting us in the driveway.

The first thing we did was walk around the back. This is the floor of the Sunroom to be. Eventually, it will be glazed in, and it will house an aviary. Both Gina and Raoul are avid bird lovers.

The first thing we did was walk around the back. This is the floor of the Sunroom to be. Eventually, it will be glazed in, and it will house an aviary. Both Gina and Raul are avid bird lovers. You may wonder what that thing snaking through the concrete is. It is a river which will be filled with all the agates collected by Gina’s grandmother and great grandmother during their entire lifetimes. She is cementing them into the floor! This summer, during the worst of the heat waves we had, bees from a neighborhood beekeeper gathered to cool off in the water that had gathered in the river. It must have been quite the sight…

Here is another view of the river, seen from the glass doors that lead into the large, two-story living room.

Here is another view of the river, seen from the glass doors that lead into the kitchen and the large, two-story living room. I love how this is not just a house, but how all the thoughtful details are incorporated to commemorate loved ones, and celebrate memories. No one else can live in this house – it is so intensely aligned with its owners – it truly is their forever home. Of course there are plants everywhere, waiting to go in the ground, when all this is over, and they can breathe again.

A better view of the Sunroom. This is where we had dinner - a wonderful salad Gina made.

A better view of the Sunroom. This is where we had dinner after walking through the property – a wonderful salad Gina had made.

Adjacent to the Sunroom, down on the ground is something wonderful...

Adjacent to the Sunroom, down on the ground is something wonderful…

... the sump where all the water run-off from the roof is collected in underground tanks. There is also a pump which will pump the water uphill to where Gina's garden will be. So cool - from up there, she can let gravity do the watering.

… the sump where all the water run-off from the roof is collected in underground tanks. There is also a pump which will pump the water uphill to where Gina’s garden will be. So cool – from up there, she can let gravity do the watering.

This is the top of the field where Gina plan to have her fabulously irrigated edible garden.

This is the top of the field where Gina plan to have her fabulously irrigated edible garden.

The generous sleeping porches that stretch along the side of the house are perfect for napping.

The generous sleeping porches that stretch along the side of the house are perfect for napping.

They had some issues with birds nesting in the eaves, so they put rolled up gutter netting in there to prevent them. But, nice as they are, they built a little shelf for them to nest on instead. :)

They had some issues with birds nesting in the eaves, so they put rolled up gutter netting in there to prevent them. But, nice as they are, they built a little shelf for them to nest on instead. 🙂

Gina's rain chains - made from these cute little metal buckets she bought from an online party supply store.

Gina’s rain chains – made from these cute little metal buckets she bought from an online party supply store.

The kitchen will go behind that arched stud wall.

By now, a kitchen has been installed behind that arched stud wall.

See how thick the walls are? They used Faswall blocks to construct this house. Faswall are stackable wood chip and cement blocks with exceptional thermal properties. Very cool - check them out here!

See how thick the walls are? Not counting the siding, which is not installed yet, they measure about 15″. They used Faswall blocks to construct this house. Faswall are stackable wood chip and cement blocks with exceptional thermal properties. Very cool – check them out here!

There is an upper level, but for now, it will be used for storage.

There is an upper level, but for now, it will be used for storage.

The roof was made with SIP panels (Structural Insulated Panels), and the insulation on the inside is made from recycled

The roof was made with SIP panels (Structural Insulated Panels), and the insulation on the inside is made from recycled materials – I forget exactly what kind it is.

Raoul (who is an engineer) did all the electrical wiring himself. Check out those wires - holy moly - they are so straight I bet you could use them as levels!

Raul (who is an engineer) did all the electrical wiring himself. Check out those wires – holy moly – they are so straight I bet you could use them as levels!

I bet the electrical inspector was duly impressed! They had just passed the rough-in inspection when we visited. I can't imagine they would have any trouble passing the final one too.

I bet the electrical inspector was duly impressed! They had just passed the rough-in inspection when we visited. I can’t imagine they would have any trouble passing the final one too.

Looking out toward the many windows that let the forest and the wildlife in.

Looking out toward the many windows that let the forest and the wildlife in. The super-insulated fiberglass windows were ordered from Canadian company called Accurate Dorwin, and are triple-pane with argon gas. Note the wood stove… I bet you they won’t have to use it much.

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Of course the windows have decals - to deter birds from flying in to them.

The upper windows have decals – to deter birds from flying in to them.

More windows!

More windows!

The flashing is neatly applied around the door frames.

Everything is so neatly done – labor of love, indeed!

Until the sunroom walls go in, this will be a fantastic place to sit long into the evening and listen to all the Gorge sounds.

Until the sunroom walls go in, this will be a fantastic place to sit long into the evening and listen to all the Gorge sounds.

There is a little bog pot with Carnivorous plants too, to admire...

There is a little bog pot with Carnivorous plants too, to admire…

... and another planter with water lilies.

… and another planter with mini water lilies. Every time they go out to The House, they bring things from their current garden. Gina is wise – she knows that if they don’t bring them now, by the time they have emptied the house, the last thing they’ll want to do is move the garden. So, the garden is moving now – one or two things at a time.

They had hoped that the final electrical inspection would have been completed and over today, but when I left work today, he hadn’t yet showed. I decided to go home and write this long overdue blog post about it, in the hopes that it would shake up enough good will and karma from the universe to make it all fall into place tomorrow. I hope the inspector comes early tomorrow morning, and that the Occupancy Permit can be issued in the afternoon, or Friday at the latest. In the state of Washington, the two fall under different agencies, and ne’er do the two align… No seriously, the hope was that both would be concluded before the weekend, so just in case there was anything that needed remedied, they could have the weekend to get it done before the big day on Monday.

Nerve-racking as this may be, I honestly think it will all go without a hitch. Both Gina and Raul are freakishly thorough, have sacrificed just about everything else to make this happen, and have done a completely fantastic job. They have worked so hard and they are exhausted. I’m in awe of what they have accomplished – they are SO close to realizing their dream… Won’t you join me in sending them all the good Karma in the world their way for their big, big day? I will send you good Karma back, in gratitude!

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Wednesday Vignette – Lan Su at night

It’s after 10 pm, it’s dark outside, and I just got back from work. Today was hot, hot, hot, but it has finally cooled off somewhat. I didn’t really get my customary chill-out time in the garden this evening, but seeing how dark it is, made me reflect on the importance of well-placed outdoor lighting.

I don’t remember the reason I was hanging out outside the Lan Su garden an evening a few years ago, but I do remember being impressed with their lighting, so I thought I’d dig up a couple of photos from their very photogenic front court yard, and join in the Wednesday Vignette meme over on my other blog.

In the harsh light of day, the details of the stone work are easily missed.

In the harsh light of day, the details of the stone work are easily missed.

I just love how the light falls on the sculpted granite. Isn't it lovely?

I just love how the light falls on the sculpted granite. Isn’t it lovely?

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Wednesday Vignette

This near empty greenhouse I happened upon last week, just had a beautiful stillness about it, that I couldn’t help taking to heart. Wouldn’t you agree? It is from Vassey Nursery – a lovely place I had the privilege to visit last week.

Greenhouse with old bike

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Wednesday Vignette – what’s that on your wall?

On my other blog – Flutter & Hum, I have hosted this meme for a few months now – the Wednesday Vignette. But, for some reason, I didn’t think to participate by posting an offering from this blog. Oh well, better late than never… right?

Laxskinn salmon skin on walls

This photo was taken at the Tanum Museum on the Swedish west coast. The museum was built to tell the story of a bronze age people that lived there, and left rock carvings that remain to this day. One of the first things you notice is this watery, light green color on the walls. There are also these vertically oriented panels, which upon closer inspection turn out to be tanned salmon skins. Turns out, the fish skin underbellies had just the color that is featured on the wall, thus setting the color for the entire exhibit hall. Fishing and seafaring was what sustained this people, and was vital to their culture. This made a lasting impression on me. I thought the choice of color for the place commemorating and celebrating their story was very appropriate, ingenious, and highly effective!

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An evening at the Japanese Garden

Seeing the Main Pavillion's inviting glow is a treat in itself.

Seeing the Main Pavillion’s inviting glow is a treat in itself.

Day or night, I rarely – if ever – turn down an invitation to experience the Japanese Garden. So when Drake (the owner of the company I work for, and also a board member of the Japanese Garden) asked if anyone had an interest in attending the opening reception for a new exhibit on Mashiko ceramics – naturally, I jumped on the opportunity. So did several of my work mates, who brought along their partners/friends. The ceramics were, of course, fantastic, and we had fun admiring the koi, and wandering the garden as dusk fell. I consider myself fortunate to be working with people I actually enjoy spending time with.

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As you might expect, seeing the garden in the blue light of night is different from seeing it in the daytime. I noticed several things I had never seen before. This is one thing I enjoy greatly about both our city’s Japanese Garden and Lan Su (the Chinese equivalent) – there is always something new to discover – some new detail that suddenly captures your attention.

Like this roof detail... I have never before noted that there is a row of tiles along the bottom that have a built-in, upturned arch that would catch anything that rolled down the incline. I don't imagine it is to prevent snow from sliding off the roof - if that was the purpose, I imagine these stops would occur in several places on the roof - not just at the bottom.

Like this roof detail… I have never before noted that there is a row of tiles along the bottom that have a built-in, upturned arch that would catch anything that rolled down the incline. I don’t imagine it is to prevent snow from sliding off the roof – if that was the purpose, I imagine these stops would occur in several places on the roof – not just at the bottom.

The exhibit featured the work of several Mashiko artisans - among them two Living Legends.

The exhibit featured the work of several Mashiko artisans – among them two Living National Treasures.

Each artist were quoted. This one made me  both nod my head, and laugh. Although I can see why he urges you to forget everything you learned in college, I do think I learned a few useful things. But there is nothing like the school of life, though.

Each artist were quoted. This one made me both nod my head, and laugh. Although I can see why he urges you to forget everything you learned in college, I do think I learned a few useful things. But there is nothing like the school of life, though.

One of my favorite things about the Japanese vessels is the attention wrought on the base. Rather than just a means to stability, it is sculpted to become an integral part of the whole. The textures imparted on the clay, are another source of delight, for me.

One of my favorite things about the Japanese vessels is the attention wrought on its bases. Regardless of material, rather than just a means to stability, it is sculpted to become an integral part of the whole. The textures imparted on the clay, are another source of delight, for me.

Mashiko ceramics

Love the elegant texture on this vase. For some reason – even if I can discern somewhat of a formal echo with the rim of the vase, I’m not as thrilled with the base on this particular one though, although it does fill its function. Can’t put my finger on why…

Ceramics

On this one too, the base is mirroring some of the forms of the vase itself. And I love the texture!

On any bowl or cup the base is a distinct part of the composition. It always elevates the elegance of the individual piece.

On any bowl or cup the base is a distinct part of the composition. It always elevates the elegance of the individual piece.

These pots were more whimsical - almost Disneyesque in their animated forms.

These pots were more whimsical – almost Disneyesque in their animated forms.

Got a kick out of this devil.

Got a kick out of this spiteful-looking devil.

Outside, in the garden, there was an artist, showing how the rope textures featured on a lot of the pottery is created. We admired him for a while...

Outside, in the garden, there was an artist, showing how the rope textures featured on a lot of the pottery is created. We admired him for a while…

... and then turned around and took in the evening view over Portland and Mt. Hood instead. The mountain was shrouded in clouds.

… and then turned around and took in the evening view over Portland and Mt. Hood instead. The mountain was shrouded in clouds.

I usually spend more time looking at the gardens when I'm here. This time, I looked closer at the Main Pavillion. Check out the sheen on these sliding panels. Beautiful...

I usually spend more time looking at the gardens when I’m here. This time, I looked closer at the Main Pavillion. Check out the rich sheen on these sliding panels. Beautiful…

Sliding wood panels Portland Japanese garden

The setting looks marvelous in the twilight.

The setting looks marvelous in the twilight. This side of the pavilion…

... looks out over this.

… looks out over this.

Throughout, and interspersed within the pottery, were stunning examples of ikebana - the Japanese art of flower arranging.

Throughout, and interspersed within the pottery, were stunning examples of ikebana – the Japanese art of flower arranging.

Among other things, this one featured Stipa gigantea, Calla lilies and Asparagus foliage.

Among other things, this one featured Stipa gigantea, Calla lilies and the wispy texture of Asparagus foliage.

This one involved driftwood, ferns, and some kind of Ilex (I think).

This one involved driftwood, ferns, and some kind of Ilex (I think).

Walking through the Garden at dusk is quite magical. Throughout, you will see the warm light of lit up structures...

Walking through the Garden at dusk is quite magical.

Throughout, you will see the warm light of lit up structures in the distance...

Throughout, you will see the warm light of illuminated structures in the distance…

... and well-placed lighting to highlight selected trees and areas of the garden.

… and well-placed lighting to highlight selected trees and areas of the garden.

Walk in the park

Gnarly shrub

I like how their gardeners remove enough foliage on select shrubs so you can see the structure of the branches. It makes a nice contrast with the mounded, perfectly shaped Azaleas.

Large Japanese lantern

Beautiful sight lines everywhere you look!

We ventured down to the Koi pond.

We ventured down to the Koi pond.

Everyone's favorite was the one that looks like the flag of Japan.

There were lots of beautiful fish circling around in the pond, but everyone’s favorite was the one that looks like the flag of Japan.

Around the pond, the Iris ensete was in full bud.

Around the pond, the Iris ensete was in full bud.

The Japanese garden is at a higher elevation than most of Portland. Only one of the buds had made it this far.

The Japanese garden is at a higher elevation than most of Portland. As far as we could tell, only one of the buds had made it this far.

I noticed a Sho-shugi ban and bamboo edging by the pond, that I must have missed when I wrote about Japanese fences and screens. You can check that post out here, if you're interested.

I noticed a Shou-sugi-ban and bamboo edging by the pond, that I must have missed when I wrote about Japanese fences and screens. You can check that post out here, if you’re interested.

Too soon, it was time to head back down to the parking lot.

Too soon, it was time to head back down to the parking lot

I noticed the discreet light fixtures lining the path. Perfection!

I noticed the discreet light fixtures lining the path. Perfection!

Elegant simplicity.

Elegant simplicity.

On the way down, I saw this beautifully tree canopy, lit from above.

On the way down, I saw this beautiful tree canopy, lit from above.

Leafy shadow pattern

Further down the path, another well placed light created this marvelous pattern of shadows.

It is fun to ponder whether these wonderful, fleeting touches were indeed the implementation of an idea, or formed by fortunate accident.  Perhaps simply being in such a beautiful environment opens your mind up to see and absorb more of it? There is a lot to take in and think about here, for aspiring designers… Regardless, a visit to either one of our fair city’s Asian gardens, is a surefire way to ground yourself, help you shed whatever thoughts that might add to your daily stresses, and help inspiration flow. It is a restorative experience I wish everyone could enjoy. If you’re a local, or can make a day trip, I highly recommend the exhibit. In a world of dwindling crafts, where ancient skills are rapidly fading into oblivion, this causes you to pause and reflect. A wonderful evening indeed. Thanks, Drake – it was a treat!

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What exactly is Cor-Ten, and is it worth it?

If you pay any attention at all to design and architecture, you may have heard the term Cor-Ten thrown around quite a bit. Cor-Ten is a registered trademark name for a type of weathering steel alloys, owned by the US Steel Corporation. It was first developed in the 1930’s for rail cars for coal transportation, and premiered in architectural applications in 1964, when Eero Saarinen used it for his design of the John Deere World Headquarters in Illinois. Since then, its popularity has skyrocketed for uses in architecture, landscape installations, and outdoor sculpture. Specifying it will land you at a price tag of double of what the regular A36 (that’s carbon steel, or mild steel to you and me) will cost. This made me ponder at what point it is actually worth specifying Cor-Ten as opposed to its humbler, more commonplace cousin. I had fun researching this, so bear with me when I start from the beginning.

Staining is the one thing you need to detail for, because it WILL happen.

Don’t you just love that rusty red? The staining is inevitable however, and one thing you really need to detail for, because it WILL happen. I will touch more on that further down in this post.

First, a little primer: All metals can be divided into two basic groups – pure metals (= basic elements), and alloys. The pure metals are down to their basic atomic structure and can’t be refined any further, but they can be combined with each other, in which case they become alloys. The alloys can then be categorized into two major types – ferrous (from the Latin word for iron) and non-ferrous. Since Cor-Ten is a ferrous alloy, lets start with a historical glimpse at iron. As a fun aside – to hear a stunning rendition of the Periodic Table, click here! 🙂

By adding coke and limestone to iron ore in a blast furnace, the iron is separated from its ore. In this state, it is still not pure – it contains about 5% carbon and smaller amounts of other elements. Back in the day, the molten iron from the blast furnace would be collected in a channel to which long molds were attached, like piglets suckling from a sow. The basic bars from these molds were called ‘pig iron’. Pretty fun, huh? From pig iron, two kinds of iron were made; cast iron and wrought iron. Cast iron is more brittle, whereas wrought iron lends itself well to shaping, but neither is as strong as steel. But, fast forward to now… The overwhelming majority of raw pig iron produced today, is headed for the steel mills where it is turned into thousands of different types of steel, depending on which, and how much of other chemical elements are added to the mixture. Generally, steel can be sorted into three different classification: carbon steel, alloy steel, and tool steel.

Here is a gate I designed for a client a few years ago. This is an example of wrought iron set within a framework of pre-fabricated steel tubing, and powder-coated black.

This is a detail of a gate I designed for a client a few years ago. This is an example of wrought iron set within a framework of pre-fabricated steel tubing, and powder-coated black.

Carbon steel is iron with less than 1% carbon and is the most widely used. Tool steel is a fine-grade steel, often made with only iron and carbon. Tool steel is the most expensive of all steel types. Alloy steels contain some carbon, but also other elements. From the excellent book ‘Direct Metal Sculpture’ by Meilach and Seiden: “For example, the addition of chromium to the carbon steel results in stainless steel – an alloy that is tough, durable and rust-resistant – properties that make it a favorite among sculptors. The addition of nickel increases toughness and resistance to heat and acids; manganese increases strength and resistance to heat; tungsten retains hardness at high temperatures; vanadium increases strength and resiliency or springiness. There are many other elements and materials which can be used for various purposes, but these are the most common.”

From Wikipedia.

From Wikipedia.

Cor-Ten is a high-strength, low alloy steel with the prime objective to obviate the need for protective coatings. Like any untreated carbon steel, its surface rusts when exposed to the elements, but its alloy metals allow it to develop a patina consisting of a protective oxidized layer that slows down any further atmospheric corrosion. According to this Cor-Ten Q & A, “Laboratory analysis of the rust film have shown that the alloying elements in the steel, particularly copper, chromium, and nickel produced insoluble compounds that clogged the pores at the rust/steel interface, thereby ending the regeneration.” On a microscopic level, the oxidized layer is smoother than the surface of carbon steel, and thus holds less water. The rate of corrosion in weathered steel slows after 2-5 years, but it will never cease to corrode completely.

The use of weathering steels is not recommended in overly wet environments – it needs distinct wet and dry periods to develop its patina. Per this source, it also is not recommended for use closer to marine environments than 2 kilometers. The reason is that salt in the coastal air retains moisture, and would maintain a constantly moist environment on the surface – keeping the essential dry periods at bay. (This surprised me, as – per the same article – it is the material shipping containers are made of. Mind you, they are usually painted, but still… I read somewhere that Cor-Ten should not be painted until it has weathered enough to have developed a complete patina, as the prematurely added coating would hinder the development of its protective layer. On the other hand, if painted after it had had a chance to weather properly, any damage to the finish would not result in the kind of rust that would ensue had the material underneath been mild steel. Still though – I have to wonder if weathering steel wouldn’t last longer than A36 at the coast. Sure, it might not last as long as it would in a more inland location, but my guess is that those copper, chromium and nickel compounds would slow down the deterioration process – at least somewhat. Per the guys at Delia which I wrote about in my last post, using Cor-Ten for planter boxes is overkill, unless you are on the coast, or in really exposed environments.

Anyway – to answer the title question – nope, it is very likely NOT necessary to pay double for Cor-Ten planters. You will get the same rusty look with A36, and with a thicker gauge – say 10 or 12 – it will last for many years. Remember – you’re not supposed to leave moist organic material like soil or leaves against the Cor-Ten surface anyway, as it will cause it to deteriorate in the same manner as “regular” steel. And, you probably would need to water your plants at least sometimes…. right? Also, to be picky – Cor-Ten isn’t really any one type of steel – there are variations:  … There are basically two types of Cor-Ten that are most prevalent, Cor-Ten A (generally up to 12mm thick) and Cor-Ten B (generally 15mm thick and above). The comparison of Cor-Ten to the ASTM grades is loosely stated as Cor-Ten A is equivalent to  ASTM A242 and Cor-Ten B is equivalent to ASTM A588 Grade A.  Cor-Ten A and B both meet and/or exceed the requirements of ASTM A606 Type 4. [A606 is the thin sheet version.]

Regardless of which steel you choose, you are going to have to plan for rust runoff – because it WILL happen. Unless you specifically want rust stains on surrounding surfaces, you should create some kind of way for the rusty water to collect and disperse, where the resulting orange discoloration won’t bother you. Or choose to have the steel sit on a surface of a color that blends well with the rusty water.

I'm thinking maybe something like an edge filled with gravel or pebbles, dark enough to mask the orange. Here, the vertical surface is concrete, but it could be steel... Terrible photo, but you get the idea...

I’m thinking maybe something like an edge filled with dark gravel or pebbles surrounding the steel – which, if it is Cor-Ten, can be switched out after the weathering is completed. Or, in the case of mild steel, dark enough to mask the orange runoff.  Here, the vertical surface is concrete, but it could be steel. Terrible photo, but you get the idea…

 

In the case of mild steel, I suppose you could clear coat it, once it’s reached the level of rustiness you desire. (With Cor-Ten you obviously wouldn’t have to.) Or, even better, you could incorporate the staining into your design like in the design below. I really love how this makes the inevitable part of the design! Good design really IS in the details! 🙂 Now go out there folks, and get yourself some steel! It’s such a cool material!

I love how this makes the inevitable staining part of the design!

Besides the websites I linked to, my research for this post came from my trusted old second edition copy of Edward Allen’s ‘Fundamentals of Building Construction, Materials and Methods’, the wonderful ‘Direct Metal Sculpture – Creative Techniques and Appreciation’ by Meilach and Seiden, and Rob Thompson’s excellent ‘Manufacturing Processes for Design Professionals’.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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