Sunday, June 12, 2011


Recently, I had a reader ask me how I went about building things as far as making drawings etc. or did I just work completely from what I visualize in my head? Well, it's kind of a combination of the two. For the most part, I can see completely, in my mind, what I want to build, whether it be a building or a bowl. It took me a long time to realize that apparently, not everyone can do this. I mean, it would only make sense that artists can do this, so I thought everybody did. From what I gather talking to others though, some people lack this ability. I can see what I want and even walk around inside, in my mind, opening doors etc, moving from room to room. It does help quite a bit though to make a sketch from this. There are always a few corners or such, or shapes that I can't quite see clearly, so drawing things helps me to see these. It's an odd thing to describe to those who cannot work this way.

Here in these drawings you can see a few of the sketches I did for the chicken house. Most are fairly rudimentary. In the top photo, down in the bottom, right corner, you will see the sketch that comes closest to what I'm actually building. I did more sketches than normal on this one to work out the roof lines, since it is actually two buildings joined together.
For a building, I will then generally do a footprint drawing or cut, to work out my foundation etc. and also to do a materials list from. It helps me count up how many 2 x 4's etc. I will need. I was also calculating my roof pitch and such and, as you can see from the many scratched out places, I had trouble remembering the formula to figure rafter lengths! It had been so long since I have done that I messed up several times. So, see, even those of us who build can forget if we don't keep in practice. I finally saw what I was doing wrong in the formula (I could remember that part) and figured everything out. Still, even with the drawings, I ended up changing things as I built to save on material and such. For instance, the front wall is not a full 8 feet tall and the roof pitch is not a full 3/12. So, I don't know if this helps anybody! When I built the house we pretty much went by the drawings but we might occasionally move some framing just slightly. On something like a shed or so however, we might move stuff quite a lot.
So, I guess to answer the question; I do make drawings but they are just a suggestion! and to help me make up a material list. Also, since I often built with salvaged material, I have to go with what I have sometimes and that affects framing, looks etc. I guess my artistic side allows me to "go with the flow" on building. I know this is due to my nature because this method drives Jack bonkers. He is more of an analytical mind and it drives him nuts to watch me build some stuff because I won't have drawings and he can't see what I see. He is also very dubious about using reclaimed material, I guess for the same reason, and we often butt heads over this. Generally, he eventually "gets it" when he sees enough of the building standing but he often expresses his skepticism. He has gotten better about trusting my "mind's eye" though!


Anonymous said...

My "better" half and I work exactly the same way as you and Jack- he can see it in his mind's eye and "pre-lives" the whole building experience from stem to stern based on a few rudimentary sketches- and I follow dutifully along until about 1/3 or 1/2 way through when I finally see some of what he sees. However, when building timberframes from prints- my eye is much better than his because I see exactly what is drawn. His brain fills in details that should be but aren't on the prints which sends him in the wrong direction at times. Fascinating how brains and perceptions differ! We love reading your blog, BTW. He reads for the cabbage head pictures and I read for the welding and building thoughts!
Cheers~ Sal

ignatz said...

zackly the kind of info I was looking for!---you've got great vision, I can't see that, just a vague idea and then go with the flow---admiration here

Ed said...

People with excellent spacial recognition skills make good artists and good engineers too. I can look at a blue print of the house I am designing and see it all as well as if I were walking through the thing after it was built but my poor wife struggles. Since I have access to 3D software, I draw it up in 3D to help her out and that works a lot better.

edifice rex said...

Hey Sal! Ha! I busted out laughing at the end of your comment! I got more mileage out of those cabbages than I figured I would! I'm glad ya'll enjoy the blog so much. Yes, it is fascinating how people's brains work differently.

Hey Page! thanks!! the admiration goes both ways though!

Hey Ed! Yeah, I wish I had one of those 3-D programs; I think it would help Jack to see what I see.

HermitJim said...

Thanks for the peek at how your mind works! You are a very talented and fun person to follow!

Poor Jack must have his hands full keeping up sometimes!

Jenn said...

It is a leap of faith for those who don't have three-dimensional visualization to follow along with us!

Mark and I still have moments where he slaps his head and goes 'ah' when he finally 'gets' it.

edifice rex said...

Hey Jim! well, glad you enjoy keeping up here! Yeah, Jack gets frustrated sometimes I know but he is a good sport about it!

Hey Jenn! yeah, it's so hard to explain how and what I can see. But, in the same vein, I can't even begin to understand more analytical things that he can do.

Caroline said...

He is an architect, I am not. He has the whole plan in his head, I have no clue what it is we are building. I am the gopher, he is the craftsman and a good one.
After 40 years of marriage I think he finally gets it that I am not being difficult or obtuse, I really don't know what the "thing" looks like till it goes up. We built our house from the ground up with two small daughters under the age of 3 helping.
Divorce never was mentioned but murder and arson came into the conversation!
Jack has my complete sympathy and understanding. :o)

edifice rex said...

Hey Caroline! lol!! yeah, I think murder has been spoken around here a few times too! Or at least partial strangulation.....