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Core Values

September 27, 2009

Stacked concrete core samples create graphic pattern

Over the years, my brother-in-law, José, has helped Paul and I with many home projects. Everything from schlepping my latest craigslist find, to re-doing our entire home’s exterior with a fine, smooth stucco finish. He’s been a real boon and we couldn’t have accomplished many things around The Rancho, and our other properties, without him. He’s also been witness to my more zany ideas and, without complaint, helped me achieve some of my more unusual design escapades. At this late date he really knows me and what I’m capable of. That’s why when he called one day asking if I wanted 100-plus free concrete core samples he’d seen on a building site, he must’ve known I’d answer with an enthusiastic  “yes!”. He delivered them the next day, stacking them neatly in our driveway and waited while I decided what I’d do with them next. And, waited … and waited some more. In the meantime I pondered and studied and looked at these concrete cylinders, wondering myself, if I could come up with a reason for them to be here. Months passed…


21.5 foot-long core sample bench

Then one day it hit me: we could use the cores, stacked, as a combination bench/end-zone, for a parking area at the back end of the property across from our garages. We’d recently cleared the land on the corner there and it was a nice area but not serving any real function. I figured we could use the bench as the new parking area’s physical border, serving as both barrier and seating area, while at the same time affording a nice view of the plantings at the end of the property and the historic Evergreen Cemetary beyond. I discussed the plan with Paul, then José and we all decided it could work. My only specification was that it be perfectly level in all directions, since if any of the cores were not, then the whole piece would look “off” … and, that would make me insane! José set a date to begin, and he and an assistant worked very carefully ensuring that this level requirement was met. Using flat, thick, steel stakes, the end cylyinders were held in position, with José deciding to stack the ends of the bench in a pyramidal fashion. Each foot-long by six-inch concrete cylinder snuggled up to the next and they all lined up perfectly. They looked great and I loved it! The new bench/barrier delineated the parking area and now had a distinct function. Only thing was, to sit on it didn’t really feel that great.

No matter how I positioned myself on the cores they always seemed to be in the wrong spot, so back to the drawing board. I looked around at everything that was available on the property, finally laying eyes on the concrete pans that were intended for some concrete planters, but that I wasn’t using. I figured I could position them upside down on the cores and use them as the seats for the bench. Paul and I hoisted each of the three pans onto a dolly, and, rolling them over to the bench, placed them in position. They were a perfect fit! The cylindrical cores were hitting just the right spot on the pans’ lip, holding them into position. And, they felt so much better to sit on than the cores themselves.


Jan Molen photo

The core bench has been a success, eliciting much comment from neighbors and passersby. I love the graphic repeat pattern of the circular ends and the fact that it really is precisely level from all vantage points: thanks José! It’s a great place to sit and look out at the scenery. One day a man stopped by and asked if he could use the bench as a spot to paint from. His plein air painting class was studying the cemetary and he thought it would provide him with an interesting view. I readily agreed. I enjoyed that another artist saw the bench for the perfect perch it is.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Denise permalink
    September 28, 2009 4:59 pm

    That is a wonderful use of the core samples. Aren’t they great stuff? I’ve been lugging about six around my garden for years — stacking pots on them, using them to support small tabletops. They’re so versatile. I was thinking of stacking three and mosaicing the pedestal to support a birdbath…who knows? The sky’s the limit with these cores.

    • reubix1 permalink*
      September 28, 2009 5:13 pm

      I agree! I’m almost hoping for more of them to fall out of the sky so I can come up with a new use for them. Thanks for commenting, Denise!

  2. Sheeba permalink
    September 30, 2009 1:45 am

    It is a gr8 place to sit, though I haven’t, I’ve only admired it!
    There are still spots around your home/garden that I still have to explore,discover & admire…but I’m in no hurry!!
    Keep the goods coming pal:)

  3. Elizabeth permalink
    October 5, 2009 8:29 pm

    Wow, Reuben, I’m very impressed with your design eye. You kept it simple and clean, and it looks like the entrance to a (grand) public building or something.

  4. November 12, 2009 9:18 pm

    Wow! You are brilliant, Reuben! I would never (in a million years) thought up such a practical use of those concrete cores. I love the symmetrical, gridded nature of your design – it reminds me of something I’d see at the Getty… and Jan’s photo of you is lovely, too. Score!!


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