Saturday, August 8, 2009

Arches and Spain

For the paneling project I need to create a nice curve.

We have several arched doorways in the house, and while they offer visual appeal--some curves in a forest of straight lines--they present some challenges in design and execution for the carpenter and wood worker. Our eyes have the knack of seeing geometric irregularities (like perceiving the difference between a frown and a scowl), so the curve has to be just right.

First I make a rough cut along the straight side and do a zig-zap curvy line around the arch.

Arches were used first underground, in tombs and drains, and then moved above ground to support the weight above the gates and doorways of massive stone buildings. We saw one of these big arched gates in the wall surrounding the town of Arcos de la Frontera in Spain, built by the Moors, who brought the technology and design techniques of the middle-eastern builders of the ancient mosques, long before the Renaissance. Much of this architecture in southern Europe was destroyed by zealous crusaders or converted to early Catholic churches.

I take the jack place and smooth out along the straight portion of the wall.

The streets in Arcos were so narrow that even a small car could barely get through. We drove along through a neighborhood where the windows had ears, sloping walls next to the windows that allowed Muslim businessmen (and teenage boys in love) the ability to call into a house and speak to a female without actually looking at them.

Then I gently chisel away at the curve. Michelangelo started out this way.

As we drove we came to a street so narrow that the rear view mirrors of the car nearly touched the whitewashed buildings on both sides. I had to back up, drive out of the city completely and come in again. Cheryl was so nervous she threatened to get out and walk to the castle (our B&B), even though we had not yet found it, so I had to reel her back in.

The Moors were chased out of Spain in 1492, abandoning Grenada as their last stronghold. Fortunately the Alhambra was not destroyed; Cheryl and I toured it during the day and again at night. Beautiful.

All finished.

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