Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Wiring Up the Wood

When I explain stuff like this I always feel like I'm writing out a recipe. Especially something like cooking in a wok, where you need all your ingredients assembled before you start cooking.

On the left are some S-hooks, the kind we use to hang mounted orchids or other epiphytes. These are 18" hooks; I use all different sizes, including small ones I make myself.

Epiphytes are just plants that grow on other plants. They aren't parasites, they don't harm the host. They just benefit from the rainwater that trickles down the trunk of a tree, say, so they get water and nutrients that way, because their roots are on, under, and/or in the bark. Most orchids are epiphytes.

Unless they live on a rock. Those are lithophytes. Oh! And lots of lichens are lithophytes too. But you don't need to worry about that just now.

The rolls of wire in the back are the 14 and 16 gauge I use for most of the wood. Other sizes and types I use are out there too - 22 gauge for very tiny pieces, clothesline wire for heavy things where I also want the wire coated. There's a roll of sisal twine there too. Remember that.

So I sit down, as always, to work. When the big coil of wire does this, that old commercial for Slinky starts up an earworm in my head. It's Slinky, It’s Slinky, for fun it's the best of the toys, It's Slinky, It’s Slinky, the favorite of girls and boys, everyone knows it's Slinky, everyone's Slinky!

I realized I need two hands to do the wiring and one for the camera, so it's hard to show how I twist the wires. Um, just take my word for it. It's really simple. I just wrap each end around the wood, twist it up, and do the other end of the piece of wire the same way right next to the first one. That way it's held on by each end. Long hard experience has taught me this extra stability can be a very good thing.

With both ends tied around the wood, and the wire running between them, I now have a fast, simple, cheap, effective way to hang the wood. This may not be the final hanging for any of the pieces I'm doing here. Right now it's mostly to get them off the ground and organized so I can see my materials. Later, the weight of the plants alters how the wood hangs, so re-wiring at the very end has to be done carefully to balance it well.

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Pretty Lady said...

Your hanging-orchid forest is going to be SO COOL.

I have no idea if commerical patinas work on galvanized fence poles, but there's no reason not to research them. You could patina them like verdigris, or rust. Or you could just grow vines all over them.

Nancy said...

I was thinking vines too Pretty Lady...

humm, would the vines try to take over the orchids?

Perhaps something wrapped around the poles, like twine? Then painted with water proof paint or sealer? It would be a lot of work though.

Time to do some thinking.

k said...

PL, I did a little surfing after I read your comment. Apparently there are companies here that produce the long-lasting paints etc. one can use on galvanized. Much of it is large-scale industrial use, B to B stuff, but not all.'s all very expensive indeed. So that's out.

Vines are always meant for galvanized, aren't they? The only thing here is, our vines tend to grow so strong and fast that they'd actually eat through the wood, and/or bind it up irretrievably, in no time flat.

Nancy, actually I really like the idea of using twine. Even just around the ends that jut out from either side of the ficus patch. I have this thing about paint chips in my yard, I really hate them, so I don't like to use exterior paints except on the house.

But twine? I love it. I love sisal twine especially - like the roll in the pic.

So maybe I could use some sort of sealer...or maybe just wrap the pole in twine and see how long it lasts. If it frays after a year or two, that's okay. Long enough between re-wrapping. And the frayed string is all organic, so I wouldn't feel like I'm adding yet more pollution to my yard.

HMMM...Yeah, I'm thinking.