Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Slide Show: Fence Extension and Moon WIndow

Below are photos from the spring 2011 construction of the fence extension and Moon Window.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Fence Extension and Moon Window

"The thief left it behind - the moon at the window."

The first project for summer 2011 was to extend the garden fence by three panels. The first of the three was designed to incorporate a Moon Window, a traditional element of most Chinese Scholar gardens and also found in Japanese architecture as well. Below are some images of inspirational Moon Gates that I saw while visiting China in 2007.

The first new panel, near the patio/fire pit area, would be the Moon Window. I also thought a Moon Window might incorporate some aspects of feng shui into the garden - as an outlet for negative chi.

Extending the fence design wasn’t difficult, since I had learned much the previous year when I constructed the bulk of the fence. It did take me a while to plan out and build the Moon Window. I simply built the panel with cedar boards, found the center mark and made a circle with string and a pencil. From there, I removed the boards, cut them out with a jig saw, and then reassembled the pieces as a big circle in the garage.

Creating the frame pieces for the Moon Window was a bit tougher. I took the cut-out pieces from the circle I had reassembled in the garage and then placed card-stock paper around the edges and traced out the circle. Using the same center board with pencil and string still attached, I drew another circle 3/4 of an inch larger. I removed the boards, and drew an additional circle 3/4 smaller onto the card-stock. I then cut out the pieces of paper as a template for six pieces. Using the cut-out circle pieces that were now scrap, I was able to trace the template onto the wood and then cut them out with a jig saw. Once sanded, they were attached to the panel boards with clamps, and drilled and screwed into place.

I then had to disassemble the entire panel and bring each piece into the garage where I spent the next couple of days staining each piece with two coats of stain. Once dry, I could then take the pieces back to the panel and reassemble them. Since everything was pre-drilled, it was a relatively easy task that took about 35 min. (you can watch a high-speed video of me building the panel below).

Dancing in the Moonlight

The soundtrack I used for this video was Axi Dancing in the Moonlight performed by the China Broadcast National Orchestra. The Axi (阿细) people are a subgroup of the Yi ethnic group (彝族) in Yunnan province. They are famous for the folk traditions, including music.

The panel looks good, but I do have two regrets: the stain I used looks a bit orange compared to the clear coat with which I covered the bamboo panels. Hopefully, it will fade to a more yellow over time. Also, the circle is not directly centered with the walkway between the house and garage.

Originally, when I laid out the fence, I divided the panels based on 7 ft. sections. If I had chosen 8 ft., the circle would have been centered. At the time, I had no intention of extending the fence past the edge of the garden into the patio area, and 7 ft. sections worked. However, once I made the decision to extend across the patio area, it was important that I maintain continuity with the overall fence design - three 7 ft. panels that match the existing design.

I could have created a 10 ft. panel consisting of four posts, but that would have left me with room for only 1.5 panels past the Moon Window panel up to the edge of the patio area, the end point of the fence that I did not want to pass.

Although the Moon Window would have been centered with the walkway, I did not like the 1/2 panel at the end. So, I decided to live with a slightly off center panel.

Hopefully, the feng shui practitioners out there will forgive my lack of perfect balance.

Once the panel was complete, I then transplanted one of my clumping bamboo plants (Fargesia ‘rufa’) from the edge of the gazebo to just behind the Moon Window.

In time, the bamboo should fill in nicely and perhaps with a couple of potted plants, there will be some more balance and harmony in the garden.