PARTICIPATORY SPORT FOR CRAFT ARTISTS
As a veteran bench warmer for many basketball teams in my youth, I spent a lot of time staring at gymnasium floors. Some gleamed smoothly with shiny layers of lacquer, while others were worn and splintered. Indoor basketball courts are generally made of maple and cushioned with a subfloor. The hard maple helps balls bounce higher, and gyms that are maintained well are refinished annually. But even when maintained, these floors do wear out and need to be replaced every 30 years or so. While that might seem infrequent, if you add up all of the gymnasiums in the nation (colleges, high schools, YMCA’s, community centers, etc.), that’s a lot of flooring. It’s a good bet that somewhere not too far away, a gym floor is being replaced.
Andy Cooperman, a Seattle based metalsmith, recently pounced on some salvaged basketball flooring that showed up at a Habitat ReStore. He’s been busy installing it as his new studio flooring. Here, you can see it laid out and ready to go.
The lines won’t match up, but he doesn’t care. Rumor has it that he hated gym anyway. Cooperman’s salvaged studio floor is a wonderful reflection of his studio practice, as he often incorporates found materials into jewelry. Here’s an example of his fabulous brooch, Cour, in which he set a ping pong ball.
Dan DiCaprio, a bench jeweler and part-time instructor at Virginia Commonwealth University used salvaged maple for an entirely different purpose. While taking an independent study course with Professor Tim Lazure as part of his M.F.A. program at East Carolina University, DiCaprio built this beautiful custom jeweler’s bench using a spare piece of maple bowling alley for his bench top.
DiCaprio’s penchant for wood is expressed throughout his sculpture and jewelry work.
Where can you find salvaged hardwood and other useful materials? Try your local secondhand shops that specialize in building materials. Habitat ReStores are a great place to start, but there are also a plethora of independent scrapyards that may have just what you’re looking for. These stores are great not just for bargains; they also keep tons of material out of landfills.
Great post! Thank you !!
I've got a hunk of salvaged bowling ally floor myself out in the wood shop. It is begging to be a tabletop of some sort. Though I should note that it's been begging to be this for over a decade now. I just don't seem to find the time. Dan DiCaprio's bench top looks like a great use of such flooring!
As a side scrounging note, old bowling balls can make for great raising stakes when working on large vessels.
Good to know, David! I've also seen old rolling pins cut in half used as stakes for making flat bottomed raised bowls too.
We've been sitting on a complete set of teak wood organ pipes that were salvaged from a church. The church, and organ, were built in the 1850's and the wood came by ship around Cape Horn of South America. The pipes are huge and have such an energy to them that we are still pondering just what they want to be in the next step of their journey.
I hope you will post some pictures when you decide what to do with it. Sounds amazing!
I think the floor is even better when the lines don't line up.