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I would like to take the time to tell you about the “S’mores Building”. I think the name alone may be enough to pique your interest. Perhaps you are envisioning a somewhat Hansel and Gretel-ish type building where the walls are made with graham crackers and bound together with marshmallow goo. The roof is of course shingled in Hershey’s chocolate squares and one can simply start licking the walls in this utopian architectural delight, because basically, her house is a giant s’more. Or perhaps the more practical, yet imaginative side of you is thinking it is a building that we have at the farm where one can enter and make a fine s’mores treat. Ultimately, you’re thinking that somehow s’mores are a part of this equation. If you know Brad and I at all, and have talked to either one of us in the last 5 years, you have most likely heard us mention THE “S’mores Building” at some point or another.
Alas, even though we have indulged in s’mores at the farm, I am here to burst your burnt marshmallow bubble and let you know that the building has nothing to do with s’mores at all. (But trust me, I am going to share some yummy s’mores recipes later in this blog and if you check out the resource library, I put a fun “s’mores randomizer in there for ya!)
You see, when the S’mores Building was still erect, one of the previous owners had taken the time to mount a quote on the building which said, “HE’S MORE THAN ENOUGH”. This was in addition to another quote that was mounted to another building that stated “THE LORD WILL PROVIDE”. Now, Brad and I are non-denominational, so these quotes do not have as profound of meaning to us as they may have on others (but on a side note, I am thinking of removing the word “Lord” from the garage building and putting an image of the earth there instead, because so far, out here at the farm, the earth has provided plenty and we are truly grateful for her bounty). But I am getting side tracked here…back to telling you about the S’mores Building.
The quote “He’s more than enough” was carefully scroll-sawed out of wood, painted red and mounted on the front or this building. Each letter was approximately 9 inches in height. It is also apparent when looking at the quote, that the designer directly painted the S on the building, and I wondered why. Incredibly, when we were cleaning out the back room of this building, we found the rough draft notes for this quote. The designer had taken the time to dissect the quote by letters, and did a count of the amount of E’s and T’s and so forth that he would need for this project. But no S. He forgot the S, and didn’t remember until I’m sure he was in the process of mounting the quote on the building.
I can hear the Homer Simpson-ish “Doh!” that would have resonated across the land. Because of it, the S, painted directly on the building is more faded than the rest and for some reason it just makes me see the word “smore”. That is why I started calling it The S’mores Building. I saw that word every single time I saw the quote and it stuck.
From what we can gather, the S’mores Building was a wood shed; a big wood shed, and that wood kept us snuggly warm in the house for a good winter or two. In the back of the wood shed was a small workshop that was absolutely one hundred and forty thousand percent over stuffed with everything from a large bamboo rice field worker’s hat to funky lamp shades to mouse nests, yet no s’more ingredients were to be found. (Don’t worry. I will share some s’more ingredients with you later!) The space was a 4’ by 15’ solid cube of junk EXCEPT for the newspaper we found from September 21st, 2000, which is the year my son was born. That was an epic find!
And this building was really structurally unsound. It definitely had a major lean to the left, and was only being supported by a few exterior logs wedged up against it to make the inevitable a bit slower, but not by much. We knew, for our safety, that it had to come down. So after taking a good week of our life to empty and sort the back room, we slowly and methodically took apart the S’mores Building.
The “barn board” of the S’mores Building (it wasn’t really a barn, but I can’t really call it s’mores board, can I? We will stick with calling it barn board) has the perfectly weathered grey patina that is so coveted by home decorators and artists, so we carefully removed each plank one by one and took the time to remove as many nails as possible. I have had many ask if they can buy a board or two off of us, but I am selfishly hoarding it all. You see, I’m a memory collector, and I do so in interesting ways; collecting bits of paper or doodads and thematically attaching them to the art that I’m working on. I can tell you where almost every single thing I’ve added to an assemblage art piece came from and how it’s connected to the file folders in my mind. So for me to give or sell this barn board just straight up would be disrespectful to the life of the building; a cheap cop-out to the history and memory of how this building served so many for countless decades. Instead, we want to incorporate the cracked, dusty, bug eroded slabs of wood into our future home as a reflection of what was and what will continue to be. They will also be a reminder of the memories we made as a family as we worked towards the difficult dissection and reassembling of a legacy and hopefully the creation of many more.
And I have also been using the wood in creative upcycled ways as well. Last year, I started making rustic barn board and license plate boxes (also collected out here at the farm). They are the perfect size for holding a potted plant, or whatever suites your interior decorator fancy. I have hacked up smaller pieces of barn board and shared them with clients at painting parties where we’ve created paintings such as mushroom laden tree stumps and a menagerie of paper flower arrangements in painted mason jars mounted on the barn board. There’s something about the authenticity of the wood that makes the art just that much more special and unique. And it’s nice to know that people are creating art on it that will be enjoyed for many years in their homes.
But on top of saving the wood itself, I also saved those original cut out letters that were mounted on the building. Then I put a shout out to my friends on Facebook and set up a contest. The idea was to use the letters that I saved from the quote and re-assemble them to make the name for my future art studio that will be built at the farm. All of the letters did not have to be used, but no new letters could be added. I upped the ante by saying that the winner would receive one of my art prints so that there was a prize connected to the challenge, because who doesn’t like to win a prize, right? It was a heck of a lot of fun, and we had a good laugh or two at some of the responses we received. If you want to see the final list of all the different names that were created, head over to my resource library where I shared the hilarious, unedited list of names that were created.
And just in case you want to play this game, here is a break down of the letters you can re-arrange, remembering that S cannot be used: A, E(x3), G, H(x3), M, N(x2), O(x2), R, T, U.
We truly believe in the philosophy of making something out of nothing, and the s’mores building was no exception. It served its purpose for decades and now it has been and will continue to be used in a multitude of ways. I always love seeing artists that are picking up what seems to be pieces of junk and transforming them into something both aesthetically pleasing and completely unique. Check out the hashtag #upcycledart on Instagram and you’ll be floored by what’s out there. And if you go to my art account on Instagram under the name theclevercorvid, you’ll see many art pieces that I have created out of reclaimed materials.
On Instagram, I have also been following Alberta based artist Joshua Alexander under the profile name Usihtat (which means maker/builder in Cree) for some time now and am always impressed with the work he makes with scraps he collects. (By the way, Josh is on all kinds of social media as well. Check him out!) Upcycling is the way we as artists HAVE to be. It’s actually the way that all people should be, in my opinion; it’s environmentally conscious to be considering our product consumption and art supplies are a part of that philosophy. It’s easy to become an art supply hoarder so being an upcycle artist takes that out of the equation. It’s not about buying something new and turning it into art; it’s about finding something old and making it into new art. It’s a fun way to think about life and always keeps the creative juices a flowin’.
So if you’re thinking of ripping down an old building on your land, keep in mind that there’s soooooo much to that building that can be re-used. Yes, you may think, “This is a rotten old piece of nothing!” but to artists like me and Josh and many other upcyclers out there, it’s a creative challenge (and also considered “shabby chic” in the designer world if you’re into fancy words)! It’s super easy to put a shout out on Facebook saying that you have reclaimed materials up for grabs and I am telling you, it will be gone. There’s a lot of truth to the saying “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure” and as cliché as it sounds, it’s absolutely true. Remember, Brad and I made an epic outhouse deluxe out of old hockey arena boards and I’d have to say it’s probably one of the best shitters in NWO. So before you set a match to the old barn, consider the artists of the world and what they’d create out of it; your run down old shack of a building and heaps of scraps in your yard just may be the catalyst for the next artistic masterpiece.
Now go on and play that word game! And while you’re at it, get a bonfire going and make yourself an epically amazing s’more! Here’s a couple delicious recipes shared by local S’mores aficionados!
And if you’re looking for more s’mores adventures, check out the S’MORES RANDOMIZER I have posted in my resource library. There, you can come up with a multitude of combinations for an out of this world s’mores experience. What kind of s’more will YOU make?! Let me know. Send me photos. I’d love to see what kind of creative, out of the box s’mores you come up with!
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