No beer, no cigars, no gambling. What’s a guy to do? Some nights I just can’t bring myself to write anything; I need to find more productive ways of passing time. Let’s call it procrastination with purpose.
I had been meaning to clean out the shed for some time, it had been left a mess by the previous owners and now I was the proud owner of that mess. Gardening paraphernalia, old shingles, cut ends of various types and sizes of lumber: it was the epitome of SHED. You didn’t know it was an acronym? Well it is. Stands for: Shit Hidden out of Eyesight and Daylight. Everything had to go, I have an aversion to junk. But there was one item I just couldn’t toss.
It was a very decrepit and lonesome ladder. My house was rebuilt so the ladder was likely bequeathed to the the unknowing couple I purchased it from before being endowed to me. And so it goes. This ladder was comically unstable. It had trouble standing on its own, I couldn’t imagine it bearing the weight of even a toddler. But It had an earnest, utilitarian patina.
But what to do with it? How could I retire it in style?
At first, I thought of using the front as a wall-mounted shelving unit but that would require levelling the rungs and they were riveted in. No dice. I noticed, however, when upright the face of a ladder presents its steps like angled signboards. I could get in four lines of text.
I had to separate the front of the ladder from the back first. Like the rungs, the frame itself was assembled with rivets so I borrowed a grinder from work. Then I almost set fire to my basement. So I went back to the shop for this bit. The sparks that emanated had me compulsively checking my hair to see if it had ignited.
I measured out the area of the rungs and used Word-Art (in MS Word) to print out the text I decided on. I glued a couple of sheets of tin foil together to increase the thickness of what would become my stencil. While doing this I realised cutting the stencil out freehand would have been easier for anyone with artistic ability. Unfortunately, I lack that ability: I’m the kind of guy that ends up with an egg every time I attempt a circle.
An unintentional benefit of using the tin foil was that it could be manipulated to rest snugly on each rung. How to write on a ladder, though? Yes, a ladder is used for going up but that means there are almost an equal amount of downward trips. It’s a glass half full or half empty argument. I shifted the text left as it moved up the ladder so as to direct the reader.
And then my grand plan, the reason I used tin foil: I was going to torch the text on.
After a quick spot test I decided a bucket of water would be a sensible thing to keep around. Coincidentally this ladder was all that remains from the original house after it burned down. Here I was, blowtorch in hand. This ladder was having flashbacks.
Did not work. Too much heat was needed to mark the wood, my stencil couldn’t withstand it. I broke out the spray paint instead. After I slapped on two coats of glossy lacquer to help maintain that patina I let it dry overnight.
In case it’s illegible from the pictures, it says: “The bad luck comes from not going up.” I’m still not sure if that’s pithy or painful but when I mounted it on a wall the next morning I realized two things: it felt way better than a hangover; and mounting it in the stairway to my bedroom could be construed as innuendo.