One-half inch balsa wood in 30” lengths made the structures. Faithful readers know that precision is not one of my strengths. What Mimi used to call “Oh pooh”, meaning “it’s fine”, doesn’t cut it with something like this.
For this project I used a tape measure as well as a right angle measure, a tack hamper, a small Japanese saw, rubber bands, Alene’s tacky glue and 1 ¼ “ brads. Once the measurements for the entire structure were figured out, I cut each piece of balsa in pairs and fours with elastic bands holding them together – just slightly speedier than one at a time. Balsa is very light and easy to cut. The sandpaper block smoothes any frayed ends.
Each structure consists of 4 pieces at 26” long and 8 pieces at 6” long, yielding at 6: square at 26” high. This gives two cross bar sections one at 8” high and one at 16” high. The easiest way to do this is to use a ‘template’ to help keep everything true to angle. The template is made from foam core and pieces of cardboard. The space between is exactly 6 inches and the base of the foam core insures that the bottom of the posts are level. Measure twice and glue once! Measure where each cross bar is to be placed, dab on a bit of glue and then nail it with two brads diagonally apart. Each of the vertical sections is made this way. Next the two sections are joined with the remaining cross bars. This part is trickier but uses the same dab of glue and then nailing process. If you are only making one, making a template might not be necessary.
For the Centennial dinner, the balsa frame was sprayed first clear Krylon to seal it. Next a light coat of copper spray was used to take away the raw wood appearance. We put them in plastic Lomey 11” dishes with a Oasis glue dot under each leg. They didn’t move at all, even after the water was added. Originally we wanted glass but most shallow glass does not have a level inner surface but rather a convex one. An alternative could be to put the frame in a metal dish and fill the dish with water and stones as I did below.
Recently I rescued a discarded early attempt at the structure (the eagle-eyed will notice it is not square and the top consists of two bars). It has been sprayed purple and filled with the flowers of summer picked right outside my door: Buddlea, Perovskia, lambs ears, Allium. Each corner has a different flower.