Close up of plug

Centuries Old Barn Beam Becomes A Pedestal

From A Barn In England To The Gallery Floor: The makings of a barn beam pedestal.
A little over a year ago a good client and friend (well, a family of clients) gave me a wooden beam said to have come from a barn in England. I believe it to be old growth white oak and at the very least over a hundred years old. It’s natural beauty and years of character are undisputed. Take a look at the gallery below to see how I reclaimed this beam into a pedestal to rest a sculpture on. 
Close-up of resin and plug
Close-up of resin and oak pin

Upon delivery the beam was cracked on all sides and misshapen asymmetrically.  A shard of jagged wood ran lengthwise when I got it, leading me to believe that it was cleaved from a larger-in-circumference wood beam a long time ago. The shard pointed out about 7″, and I cut it off prior to this gallery. Some time ago, it appears that someone had recessed two large red oak pins into the cracks of one side in hopes of stopping the crack from worsening. Since the cracks radiate from the center of the beam like a rays of sun, recessing a pin parallel with the sides should (in theory) hold the wood together. The pin penetrates at a diagonal to the crack acting as a staple, holding the top layer of wood to the bottom.

I got the crazy idea to finish the restore job and match the pinning on the other face, which seemed to be riddled with deeper  and more numerous cracks. The first challenge: sourcing a piece of red oak with the same approximate age, diameter, and color. Assuming this farmer used materials at hand, I found a broken antique broom handle from my parents’ barn. *My dad is awesome at collecting amazing old barn stuffs.* It was similar in age and exact size and color. I lucked out!~

Barn Beam +  Barn Broom = Awesome!!

After the pinning, I decided to fill the cracks with a clear polyester resin. The resin acts as a binding agent to some degree. But more than anything, it’s just a nice aesthetic touch. The resin was poured and carved down to be flush with the sides, making for a completely true edge where there used to be a void. Next step, a good several hours of sanding. Then comes the polyurethane, followed by some sanding and more coats of poly. 

“What’s next?”

These steps have been taken so that this pedestal may reflect the same warmth and consideration as the artwork that rests on it. Traditional pedestals are generally white or black so as not to distract from the real focal point–the artwork. However, the reality is that a most pedestals are poorly maintained and overly painted. This is an obvious distraction  that  I decided to remedy years ago. My pedestals are designed specifically for an individual piece or made in the same style as a whole body of my work. This allows me to think of the pedestal as an extension of the artwork, not as an obstacle to be overlooked. In many cases, it  serves as a pivotal role in the overall piece. Keep an eye out for this base in future posts. Soon it should have a new sculpture gracing its crown.

6 thoughts on “Centuries Old Barn Beam Becomes A Pedestal

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