...something unexpected becomes your favorite part?!
That's what happened when I recently had this iron trellis made for the courtyard to go over the barn half bath window.
It started with these two iron panels. We found them almost 20 years ago at an estate sale in Dallas. They were originally porch supports on a 1950's ranch-style house. These are the more desirable vintage supports since they are all iron; the newer (1960's versions) had iron frames, but aluminum inserts. In Dallas I hung them on a painted fence partition Dan made at the corner of our garage (photo below.) It was built to block the view into our next door neighbors bathroom from our terrace- not pretty ;) The staghorn fern was the size of my thumb when someone gave it to me! Note the tongue-in-cheek "mount" that Dan made for the "staghorn" fern! When we left Dallas I gave away all my outdoor plants. I still miss them. (Hey Prissy.... how's Mr. Staghorn doing?!)
The panels have been in the basement since we moved into the farmhouse. I decided I needed some vertical height in the courtyard and one day remembered these iron supports. I then designed a trellis that would encase the barn bath window that I could grow a vine on. I've mentioned our wonderful neighbor down our road who does welding before, but he doesn't work on "cast iron" (did you know that is a totally different skill-set than a regular welder and very difficult to find these days?) We were very happy to get the recommendation from an antiques shop of the nicest elderly gentlemen who welds cast iron. We've used the man several times now to repair an antique urn, to repair both log rests on the barn room andirons, and one of the front brass legs that was missing on one of the andirons, and to repair a bronze bird leg that broke when it fell off a table. He lives in a charming town several miles away. While these particular pieces aren't "cast" iron, we have been using him lately for all our welding. Note the piece on the right has one "leaf" missing.
This was my drawing for the welder.... the bottom of the pieces needed 34" legs to clear the window and be set in the ground with a cross-bar for support being close to the bottom and therefore not visible (i.e. not a visual part of the trellis); the missing leaf side goes on the right (I felt it would be less noticeable on that side); the wall-mounting brace was 3" trellis to wall; there were 6" from the top of the pieces to the bottom of the arch and 6-3/4" to the top of the arch. If braces were needed in the arch I wanted them divided into thirds. Oh, and the inside measurements between the two iron pieces was 45".... be sure to take note of that measurement! We discussed if a center brace would be needed for support, but I recall him saying it would be fine without one. Good.
We discussed all the measurements with the welder, who is clearly an artisan, and I could tell he understood my drawing and what I wanted the trellis to look like. He then asked me if I would like for him to make the missing leaf. Told ya... an artisan. Yes, please!
When he called to tell us the trellis was ready he told us it was tall at 11 feet! And, sure enough it was really tall! Except for the new weld, the new leaf was difficult to discern from the originals... same thickness, same leaf veining.
We drove up to the piece thinking it looked exactly as I had designed it...... except- what was "that"?? That piece in the middle between the two leaf supports??
This piece... the crossbar.
While first looking at the trellis we were questioning a particular measurement, so the welder went to get my drawing to check the number.... and as I'm looking at my drawing I said "OHHHHHH.... I see where the crossbar came from!!"
Well.... turns out I inadvertently designed it! I had drawn the "brace or curly bracket" into the drawing to note the measurement between the two iron pieces, not to be a crossbar! To make it even more complicated our welder didn't have a metal bender, so he handcrafted the curly bracket by hand, inch by inch, shaping it by hammering the iron on an anvil. . After the initial scratching my head about it, I thought it was a charming little detail and somehow made the trellis look vintage instead of new. Thank goodness I didn't draw a squiggly line or arrows between the two iron supports!! Note to self: be very careful what you draw or say in explanation!
The cross-bar clears the window at the perfect spot (the kind welder said he would come over and move it if it didn't) and every time I see it makes me chuckle and smile thinking how the unintentional became my favorite part of the whole project! The welder was also concerned how the arch wasn't uniform (equidistant across the whole arch), but went ahead and made it as I had designed it. Thank goodness, as a perfect arch would have read as too new/contemporary and this seems older to me. Don't you love a contractor who takes you at your word/drawing?!!
I have Moonflower vine growing at its base which blooms white and only at night!
If you hold your finger over the crossbar and imagine the trellis without it, you'll see how this little miscommunication really "made" the piece!
So, in closing... may all your pain be champagne, and may all your mistakes be good ones!